Friday, October 10, 2014

What do you love most, your religion, race, country, profession or kind?

Mohandas K. Gandhi
"I am an American first, " Marty boldly stated, as he asserted his position in response to political issues around the world.  "I make my own decisions and believe that my country is the best in the world, so what other people think doesn't matter much to me."  Many people identify themselves first by where they live, but what are the other factors Americans use to view themselves and others or use as a measure for love and respect?

Marty is a Midwest fellow who knows how to maintain an argument by simply reminding people that he comes from a country identified by its leadership.  An American flag at his doorway proudly shows people where he stands politically. And in the tech corridor of Portland, where religion is said not to predominate, Marty remains an individual who is adamant about immigration and America's involvement in foreign wars.

"I believe if we stuck to ourselves and didn't get so involved with other people in different parts of the world we would be a whole lot better off.  When I vote, I want to make sure that the person I vote for stands up for this country first.  And this is what I say to people who don't see themselves as patriotic Americans and put our nation at the top;l I say love it or leave it.  And I'm a Catholic, but the Church doesn't tell me what to do.  I vote in the interests of being an American, and I love this country first."

Like Ron Edmundson, whose blog is dominated by topics related to America being first at almost everything and church as a dominant force in life, Marty sees himself as a patriot.  And so does Edmundson, for whom church is also important but loving America too as he explains:  "We love our country.  Period."

Americans of Spanish origin are often referred to as Hispanics or Latinos.  But how do they view themselves?  According to research by the Pew Forum, most of them self-identify by their country of origin.  This means they refer to themselves as Cuban, Mexican, Peruvian, etc.  Only 21% use the term American in how they label themselves.

CNN recently reported that most Americans maintain religion's influence is waning, so they want to see more religion in politics.  Many say they will vote for candidates in November's election based upon their religious views.  For them faith comes first.

For other people, what they do, the work they perform, is favored over many other factors in life.  Forbes investigated why people love what they do and found a number of areas that make work satisfying and sometimes predominant in life. Often people who are successful at what they do, and love it, are said to live in the Now.  They worry about what is happening around them as opposed to fanciful concerns about the negative what'ifs.

While people identify themselves, or favor most, what they do for a living, the country where they live, or their particular ethnic group, still others see themselves as reaching out beyond the limited borders of these factors to the greater good they see as coming from a world of options.  Gandhi viewed himself as not being limited by his ethnicity, although his devotion to India was clearly demonstrated by his life and actions.  Gandhi saw the struggles or the people of India as not unlike the struggles of others in the world and underlined peace as the overriding value of people everywhere.  In other words, his love for others crossed the borders of religion, ethnicity and profession, as he maintained his affection for people of the entire world.  To that extent, his views are similar to those of Buddha who said this: " To him in whom love dwells, the whole world is but one family"or Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith, who saw all humanity as the leaves and branches of a single tree of humanity and said,  "Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind."

How we decide what is paramount in our lives differs from one person to another, however in many cases there are overlaps as well.  Most people will underline a balance of affection for what they do and where they live, or their faith and their ethnicity, but how those decisions are made are deeply personal and make a difference in how relationships are made and whether one strives for a peaceful accord or a debate in deciding who and what is best.