bunt sign

Thursday, June 27, 2002

As I was walking along Sebastopol Road this morning on my way to the post office, I saw a worm crawling across the sidewalk. It wasn't until the worm appeared in my path that I noticed something else. It was eerily quiet, because there were no birds in the trees. Without the traffic, there would have been almost no sound at all.

The street is lined with maple trees. Other kinds grow there as well, but it's the maples that dominate the landscaping. When I walk to the post office in the winter, the branches are bare of leaves but decorated with birds, spaced out like ornaments on a Christmas tree. And the birds are there from April, when the small green maple leaves (or "leafs," as they say in Toronto) start growing on the branches, to October, when the leaves are big and brown and mostly found on the ground.

For whatever reason, today was the exception. The trees are still there, the leaves are all green, but this morning the birds were elsewhere. School's out, so maybe they were confused by the lack of chattering human voices from the middle school across the street. The fireworks stands are up and ready, so maybe the birds are starting to get nervous and looking for places to hide. Possibly they saw me coming and could tell I needed some space.

I live in a country where the minority is protected from being tyrannized by the majority. This isn't always possible, but it's the goal. Nobody can prevent groups bound together by race or religion from trying to make life harder for people on the other side of the fence. But we don't institutionalize it. We don't allow our government to support trampling on the rights of the less enfranchised.

One of the easiest ways to keep government out of the minds and hearts of its citizens is by not making a law respecting an establishment of religion. It's even written down that way in a document that goes back to the nation's founding. What one person or group believes is not the government's business nor anyone else's. The separation of church and state is, for lack of a better word, sacred.

If there were only one person in this country who didn't believe in God, I suppose we could just stone him and have done with any controversy. Unfortunately, there are enough atheists and members of minority faiths to insist on being accorded their right not to be proselytized by the government. Individuals can go door to door offering religious recommendations, but my tax money can't pay them to do it.

Did the federal appeals court have any choice? They ruled yesterday that the words "under God" made the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag unconstitutional for use in schools. The words were inserted into the pledge in 1954, to distinguish us from the godless communists. This remnant of the McCarthy era exists to this day.

There's a bit of herd mentality in Congress's rush to record its disapproval of the ruling, I'm afraid. The Senate wouldn't vote 99-0 on whether the sky is blue. I'm always suspicious when that many politicians agree on something. We've gotten into a couple of regrettable wars that way.

I have no dog in this hunt, I swear to— well, I just swear. It doesn't matter to me what words are used in the pledge of allegiance, because it's nothing more than a symbol. Symbols reflect how we think and feel, and how we react to them tells us about our values, but in the end it's what they represent, such as for example liberty and justice for all, that matters. Not the symbols. Not the flag, and not the pledge.

bare limbs

Find the birdie.

I watched a wonderful movie last night. Everyone else who's always wanted to see The Piano has seen it by now, so I guess I'm the last in line. I started to watch it on one of the satellite channels a while back, but after about five minutes I realized I was missing something. I was missing about a third of the picture. I've been so spoiled by widescreen DVDs that I can tell the difference. This beautiful movie, equally ethereal and earthy, deserved better. I'm glad I waited.

previousbunt signemailnext

Latest recommendation:

Bev, Funny the World, June 28, One Nation Under God...Maybe

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Summer Showers
"Isn't it funny how money isn't a problem until you don't have it?"

Two years ago: Taming the Wilderness
"Spare me from high-spirited children with new toys."

Subscribe to the notify list to be advised when this site is updated.

The South moves north, the North moves south,
A star is born, a star burns out.