Secular Waves

There seems to be a movement lately to remove god from the heart of our
country.  Pointing to the separation of church and state, Christmas carols have
been removed from school plays, court actions have been instituted to have
the words “under god” removed from the pledge of allegiance, and crosses
have been asked to be removed from city and state logos. If allowed, the
promoters of this secular wave would wash god completely from all
government buildings and documents. We would be a godless country
insomuch as our institutions and government are concerned. Is that desirable,
or even possible?

Not to sound Clintonesque, but that depends upon what the meaning of the
word god is.  To our more primitive ancestors, all that was good was god, all
that was evil was the devil, thus the similarity of the words; good is god, evil is
devil. If god were all that is good, then I wouldn’t expect anyone to be sawing
off people’s heads in his name. That seems unjustifiable by any logic, save
Muslim terrorists. Maybe it would be simpler if secularists just mentally
replaced the name of god with the word good in all our culture. On the top cap
of the Washington monument would be: “Praise be to good”. On the Great
Seal of the United States, Annuit Coeptis could be reinterpreted as “Good has
smiled on our undertaking”. On legal tender, and hung in the house and
senate chambers would be: “In good we trust”.

Secularists, spurred on by activist courts, have reinterpreted the constitution to
call for a separation of god and state, instead of church and state, as was
written. God in our multi-denominational culture is omnipresent and is
representative of diverse beliefs. And yet even someone who does not believe
in god as a living entity surely must believe in good. This makes the brash
assumption that we are speaking about someone who is mentally well
balanced and able to function in modern society, and that such person is not
some malefactor out to cause harm and hurt. All that any individual holds most
holy, the highest ideals to which one aspires, would most hopefully in any
civilized society be good.  So the only argument left would seem to be a
childish one of semantics, consisting of the meaning of the word “god” as
used in a governmental context. Any civilized individual must have some set of
tenets, which guides their life, above and beyond the restrictions of civil law
that are imposed upon them by the society in which they live, even if they are
not verbalized. Therefore, logically, the secularists are left only with a fear of the
word “god”.   

Now a secular wave has hit hardest at the most heavily Muslim-populated
country in the world, Indonesia, amongst others. An unfeeling, uncaring wall of
water that washed away human lives with an efficiency and swiftness that no
terrorist group has heretofore yet to achieve.  It was a truly secular wave,
claiming also Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and Jews. There was no
distinction, no reprieve or safe passage granted for those it claimed. It was a
reminder of our fragility and insignificance to the forces of nature. To ask why
misses the point. The point is how we all care for one another. In the
aftermath, another wave is building, one of felicity and empathy and caring.
With over two billion dollars in aid already pledged, perhaps it pays to look
from whence these donations come. Over a hundred thousand dollars per
hour has been pouring into the Catholic Relief Services in this country. Japan,
once an aggressor nation, has pledged over five hundred million dollars.
Across the spectrum, millions of people in America and the world are reaching
out across thousands of miles to help strangers, whom they have never seen,
souls they will never know; extending human compassion and kindness on a
scale never before seen on earth. Look no further for god than in such deeds.

Perhaps Tolstoy said it best in his days of agonizing self-doubt, when he had
lost all meaning to his life, and he searched for some existence of god: “I am
the little voice within that cries out.” That little voice is in all of us, and we are at
our best when we listen. Perchance, the fear of god is washed away by
secular waves, and we are left with the understanding that all acts of good and
evil on this earth are our own.

In America we are one nation, under god. Praise be to good.

Michael P. Sakowski
January 1, 2005
Copyright 2005 All rights reserved

Op-Ed 2