Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bob S.

My name is Bob Stapp.

I am 57 years old.

I am the father of three grown children and two young grandsons.

I am a liberal, a humanist, and a spiritual person. I choose not to label myself with political party or religious affiliation because I believe those labels are too confining and, in the larger scheme of things, transitory.

My very life is a testament to my higher power and the existence of miracles. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I have been looked after in this life by someone or something, guardian angel, higher power, spirit guide, call it what you will. This realization has steadily grown as I've tapped into the enormous gratitude I feel for all the events which have shaped my life and that only now do I dare call miraculous as opposed to merely fortuitous.

I believe that we in the U.S. carry a heavy burden of responsibility. We partake of the riches and blessings of this world like no other nation in history. We have a foundation of law and government that has seen us through the worst of times, times that would have obliterated a weaker nation. Our citizens come from every corner of the globe and add their richness to daily life in ways immeasurable. Because of this great power and privilege, we have the obligation to set the tone for civilized, compassionate, and creative discourse and to take the lead in positive action both within our borders and around the world. Anything less would be squandering an opportunity.

We are squandering that opportunity.

We are victims of a terrible delusion in the U.S. We believe that God has favored us because we are somehow better and more deserving than other nations. We believe that the deep Christian tradition of our country somehow gives that tradition pre-eminence. We believe that this pre-eminence justifies any actions taken in its name and that it can stand before the even deeper tradition of the common good. The longer we insist on adhering to that mistaken notion, the more our country runs the risk of being permanently divided. Establishing a religious rule under the Christian flag, no matter how well intended, can only serve to divide and alienate, not bring

The U.S., as envisioned by our forefathers, must be a country where everyone can find his or her place, where everyone can make a decent living, where everyone can choose to raise a family free of the religious dictates of others, where everyone can live a life of dignity, and where everyone can grow old, secure in the knowledge that a lifetime of good citizenship will not go unrewarded.

As I travel around the world, I am often asked if I am an American. I want to be proud to say yes. I want my country to be seen as the shining example of how the world could be, the model for the peoples of the world to point to and say, "How can I make MY country like that!" It's not too late.

Bob Stapp
Reno, Nevada


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