Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sparking Patriotism

Last week, while out for a drink at a trendy, local martini bar, I was drawn into a conversation with two men sitting near me. The icebreaker was a comment about my drink - I had asked the bartender for something special, to celebrate the Halloween weekend. He made me a drink in a large martini glass, starting with Kahlua, floating Bailey's on top and then floating Goldschlager on top of that. He then set the Goldschlager on fire, and threw a pinch of cinnamon into the flame, which made sparks! Very impressive!

So, after the two men on nearby stools (I will call them Mr. A and Mr. B), made a pleasant remark about my exciting drink, we all began to talk. I know, there are two subjects you are supposed to avoid when there is alcohol involved - religion and politics! Well, somehow we got into both. When Mr. A heard that I do not believe in organized religion, because I think history shows that much of the world's violence has been committed in the "name of God" by many religious groups, he said that I am not a good American! I was highly insulted by that statement, and advised him that my religious beliefs have no relation to my patriotism to the USA. He insisted that it does.....but that was when Mr. B told me that Mr. A was a natural- born Canadian!

I asked Mr. A why he had come to America (he has been a naturalized citizen of the US for 30 years) and he answered "to make money." "Oh," I said, "you abandoned your country of birth for personal financial gain and you dare to question my loyalty to my country? I have never left the United States and pledged my allegiance to another country. Why didn't you remain in your country and work to make it a better place?" He floundered and defensively stated that he goes back to visit regularly.

I find it commendable that Mr. A put out the effort to become a citizen of his chosen country, and defends its honor, but his religious zealousness is a big part of the problems here in the U. S. and around the world. Everyone seems to feel that their religion and their "God" is the best, and anyone who does not share their beliefs is wrong, bad, evil...damned! I always thought that people came to the "New World" (of existing North America) for religious freedom...because they did not fit in with the popular majority in their respective countries. But now, hundreds of years later, we are imposing our beliefs on one is celebrating and appreciating each other's differences anymore. Why does a politician's religion matter? Why do we even know what their religion is?

Religion should be a personal and private matter. If you can't discuss it out of curiosity and interest, to broaden your knowledge of life and the world, and can only discuss it as criticism and disdain, then please, do keep it to yourself and your God!