One of the challenges of caring citizens in America today is how to frame the conversations about how to expand and strengthen our 1st Amendment freedoms to one another. There are five basic freedoms all of which are focused on how to have conversations that matter: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition.
One thing science is teaching us about human beings is that we are ALL hardwired to practice morality, i.e. well-being of ourselves and others. One doesn’t need organized religion to learn well-being. If I don’t eat or drink, I die. Therefore, it’s right to eat. It’s wrong to starve.
Our 1st Amendment freedom of religion simply means that if you want to participate an organized religion, great - “We the People” are not going to force one on you. At the same time, because we’re human beings hardwired to make choices - our founders wanted and expected us to bring our diverse moral perspectives into public conversations about how we can make our common life better. If our common life is happy, more than likely our private lives will be fulfilling as well.
Thus, our 1st Amendment freedoms focus on civility at the local level and diplomacy at the national level. It’s only when our 1st Amendment freedoms break down that our 2nd Amendment becomes important. We have been neglecting our 1st Amendment freedoms locally and nationally, and it shows.
by Sara Robinson, originally published on AlterNet, July 2012
One of the great historical strengths of the progressive movement has been its resolute commitment to the separation of church and state. As progressives, we don’t want our government influenced by anybody’s religious laws. Instead of superstition and mob id, we prefer to have real science, based in real data and real evidence, guiding public policy. Instead of holy wars, othering, and social repression — the inevitable by-products of theocracy — we think that drawing from the widest possible range of philosophical traditions makes America smarter, stronger, and more durable over time.
That said: while we all want a government free of religion, there are good reasons that we may not want our own progressive movement to be shorn of every last spiritual impulse. In fact, the history of the progressive movement has shown us, over and over, that there are things that the spiritual community brings to political movements that are essential for success, and can’t easily be replaced with anything else.
Clark: When it comes to breaking down how language matters to our ability to address political issues, no one has been more influential from the progressive side of any discussion than George Lakoff. As a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley and an author of books such as Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate–The Essential Guide for Progressives, Lakoff has spent years writing about why we use certain words and why, as he says often, “language matters.”
Saturday’s Melissa Harris-Perry brought in a panel to discuss the Associated Press’ decision to stop using the word “illegal” to describe immigrants; Lakoff spoke with MSNBC.com about that change and the other linguistic tricks and frames to keep track of in the immigration debate.
This week the Supreme Court is considering a case about the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and legal protections granted to same-sex couples in states where gay marriage is now legally recognized. This is a watershed moment in US cultural history and internet activists are doing their part to make a collective statement.
If you’ve been on Facebook in the last two days, you have likely seen an explosion of red squares that look like this:
By George Lakoff, Republished with Permission from the Author, Originally published in Alternet
Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz, Robert Reich and other major economists have pointed out that the deficit is not an urgent economic problem and that, to the contrary, the economy would be helped by an increase in public investment and harmed by drastic cuts. The Sequester would hurt the economy, millions of people, and the country as a whole.
Let's make it official. I hereby reject all labels.
It seems that more and more often people are getting hung up on the labels of conservative, liberal, moderate, right wing, left wing, on and on. Just name the issue, any issue, and someone has a label ready to attach to the person supporting or opposing that specific cause.
Hearing labels tossed about is nothing new, but during an election year, labels are thrown from one person to another like dodge balls. They might hurt a little, but it is the whacking, the smacking, and the stinging of being hit with a label that has a negative effect.
The thought of being smacked with a label sometimes keeps good, caring people from even considering another viewpoint.