“Your Right to Swing Your Fist Ends at Where My Nose Begins.”

For the better part of my life, I have avoided discussing two topics: religion and politics. They are private matters (at least to me). I don’t wish to offend anyone, especially family or friends. Everyone has their own opinions and their own views, beliefs and values. I certainly don’t wish to beat someone over the head to make them agree with my way of thinking, and I don’t want it done to me.

Speaking only for me, I don’t like arguing or trying to get someone to agree with me when they clearly do not want to. It’s a form of bullying in my opinion, and I’d just as soon keep my opinions to myself. I can count on one hand those I feel relatively comfortable with about sharing my political or religious views.

The acrimony, disrespect, and the sarcastic and downright rude behavior that some have shown in public forums appalls me. I fail to understand the celebrities who, upon receiving a coveted major award like an Emmy or an Oscar, turn it into a platform to shout their own political agendas. Yes, they have a right to their opinions, and they can believe and say whatever they choose to; it’s a free country.

However, there’s a time and a place for personal agendas. It used to be that the award ceremonies were a pretty class act, and brought some grace and gratitude to the podium. Taking over the mike with your award clutched in one fist and spewing your personal political rhetoric is a lot like going to someone’s house and throwing garbage in their living room.

America is a wonderful place to live. We have freedoms unheard of in many other countries. We are fortunate enough to have an abundance of so many things other countries and their people lack: fresh water, fresh food, personal freedoms, schooling, and so much more.

That said, our country and also our leaders are not perfect. Neither are we. For the most part, we are all doing the best we can and we often fall short.

We also have the right to our opinions, which is granted to us by our system of laws. In many countries, citizens who show disrespect or speak out against their leaders are summarily jailed or killed. They do not have the rights that we enjoy in our country. In America, everyone has a voice.

However, we in America might despise some individuals and groups for what they stand for, but they have a right to speak their minds, to assemble, to protest, and so on because we live in a free country.

Politics and religious views can turn inflammatory in a second. Whatever happened to “live and let live?” In my own lifetime, there have been some presidents and politicians I did not agree with or like. However, every morning and night I prayed for their safety and sanity because I respect the offices that they held. I follow the same practice now.

It is this divisive trend and behavior that makes me think that, sooner or later, we will fall as Rome once did. At this point in time, it appears that we are rotting from the inside out, as Rome did. It’s not too late yet, and I hope that we can pull ourselves out of the mire we have created before things have gone too far to recover.

So in these times of so much vitriol and hatred shown to our elected officials, government and others I would respectfully remind the “haters” of this credo: “your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”

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