I feel some compassion for authors who write books with some ignoble biographical information they wish they had not written. I feel a similar empathy for the essayist or blogger who speaks or writes hurtful thoughts about an adversary or friend, with words they might wish they had not chosen. In writing my sixth book, Main Street Philosopher, I carefully chose sixty chapters that were biographical and some that were philosophical just to give credence to the title. I struggled with the need for humility and appreciation while telling a rare and exemplary, slightly enhanced success story.
Much of what I write and talk about is related to the First Amendment and the freedoms of religion, speech, print, assembly, and complaints about some grievance, real or imagined. I believe in the separation of Church and State, and the Bible and the Constitution. When I write about the rights that I enjoy and defend, I realize I am thinking from a narrow viewpoint. I am an over-sixty-five, southern, white, male, Christian, Liberal, Democrat, and it is difficult to think in terms of universal rights or voter demographics. I don’t spend a lot of time defending the Second Amendment, because I have never had a desire or need for keeping or bearing arms. I spent 6 years in a well-regulated militia, but the government furnished me a rifle and a typewriter for everything they wanted me to do.
As a male, I have never had an unwanted pregnancy or wanted an abortion. After a midlife vasectomy, I haven’t needed contraceptives even though they might be covered in my medical policy. I like Social Security and Medicare, and having supplemental coverage with no co-pays or out of pocket costs except for a few prescriptions. As far as I know, I was born heterosexual and have been blessed with a traditional civil marriage contract, which Brother Ira North said was an institution ordained by God for better or worse. It has survived 50 years of better, with one woman who loves me and our three daughters and seven grandchildren.
Our children attended public schools, and we didn’t worry about them learning something they shouldn’t know, or we couldn’t help them with in subjects we had not learned. As a school board member, I respected and trusted the teachers. We still taught our children about church and religion at home, and answered the questions they asked, as best we could with what we knew and believed. We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Nobody ever told me I couldn’t vote, or drink from a water fountain. Ever since I was fifteen, I had a job on Main Street. I went to college for fifty-nine years and have no student debt. I don’t mind paying taxes to the government for things I can’t do, or build, or make happen, by myself. I feel safe in Franklin and Williamson. Wherever I go I feel that I am among friends who have no intention of doing me any physical harm. I was in thirteen elections, won ten and lost three which is better than some Democrats.
It doesn’t bother me that in my years of teaching Sunday school I couldn’t convert everybody in Franklin to the Church of Christ. I get along well now with Unitarians, and a few friends who might not believe in God, and some who might be a little too religious. Even as a Liberal Christian, I don’t feel persecuted. A few of my literate friends buy my books, many of whom are “not from around here” who found and befriended me on Facebook. I don’t feel guilty from the advantages that made my life disproportionally good, just fortunate, being at the right place, with the right people, at the right time in history. Nobody told me than never having known my father and being raised by a single mother was the proverbial and overrated gateway to greatness that people often claim. I wasn’t successful in spite of where I came from, but rather because of where I came from.
I don’t do a lot of praying, but I do a lot of thinking, and feeling about things and people. With a lot of wishing and giving thanks, not out loud and not in complete sentences, but that seem like praying. I really don’t understand God, and the voices I hear in my head are probably not his. A long time ago in Boston, in school, in church, at home, sitting with my mother and grandmother, I decided that I believed in “Good.” That is not a misspelling. I equate and interchange that with my conversation about God. I don’t find any conflict or disharmony between my faith and reason, between the spiritual and the secular, or between law, logic, and love.
But this morning [November 14, 2015] I am angry, and I am sad, for the people in France, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria and throughout the Middle East, in Palestine and Israel, in theocratic Islamic countries, and for people who live in states, in cities, in neighborhoods, on streets and sidewalks, in homes without loving families and the basic needs and the peace and freedoms and education that sustain life.