Whether it comes out of the mouth of a beauty pageant contestant, a
peacenik, or even a politician, “World Peace,” the concept, is not
Ah… but world peace, the reality! That’s another story.
World Peace, the reality, takes in the whole “workplace,” the whole
world. It is not about one country coming out on top, or becoming “top
dog” — even if those would-be contenders for that top position believe
they are truly that much better than the rest of the world, or the
only ones in such a position to take on that role.
Normally, or perhaps just usually, people tend to give allegiance to
their own country. They agree -more or less- to their own country’s
policies, laws, constitutions or bill of rights, and say something
like “My country, right or wrong”- unless, of course, the powers that
run the country are so demeaning and treacherous that the people have
risen up to overthrow their own government.
So if the powers that be of Country A feel that they are most
qualified and/or suited to running the world-in their stated quest for
furthering world peace-how do the powers that be of Country B feel
about that, since they obviously feel that THEY are the more suited
for that position. And so on and so on, with other countries. We would
then have a standoff as to which country is most identified with
peace, is most peace-conscious, and is most able to project peace,
insure peace, and (good grief) demand peace throughout the whole
Hmmmm. Isn’t that really like proclaiming to the world that you’re
better than all the others? The more a country proclaims how much
better it is than another, the more it becomes clear that the
proclaimer doesn’t understand world peace.
Now let’s consider for a moment those who might not desire world
peace. Could it possibly be those who really and truly prosper from
having their country at war or on the verge of war? Could it be those
whose job it is to design (and/or sell) weapons of war, whether of
mass destruction or simply one-on-one, up-close-and-personal or “low
key” sources of human devastation and death? Could it be those who are
in charge of planning and overseeing wars? Could it be those whose
only job is war-related, or military-related, or those whose jobs
would simply disappear if all countries were at peace?
Chances are the world at present is not ready for world peace. We in
this country are hardly ready for state, city, or even neighborhood
peace, closing our doors to those we do not want in our shops, our
businesses, our homes, our organizations. If we can’t accept each
other in our own neighborhood without venom or hatred in our heart,
and we are (or are trying to be) all part of the same team (Team USA),
how can we possibly make the giant leap of accepting those on all
those other teams — Team Russia, Team Iraq, Team China, et. al.?
So now we have SB 1062 up for consideration: religious freedom vs.
constitutional equality, to more or less cut to the chase. Nothing
like bringing public discrimination back again! That will go far
toward preparing us for that ever-elusive world peace! How could we
(those speaking for the United States of America) talk about the
wonders of world peace when tiny segments of our society (or are those
segments really that large?) might choose to open a business and yet
refuse to serve certain individuals that come to them to be served? I
think the idea is supposed to be: “Serving you does not mean that I
agree with you or your behavior in any way. It simply means that you
want my product or service as a customer, and I am in business to
serve you.” (Imagine if a doctor refused to stop the bleeding of an
accident victim before him/her because that victim was known to be
gay, or openly affiliated with an organization that is not popular or
generally accepted. The outrage would never cease!)
Consider that it’s all about how something is worded. While those who
are for SB 1026 insist that it’s not about being anti-gay or
anti-anybody, but about demanding their religious freedom to do what
they think God would want them to do; should it pass, those
religious-freedom folk will feel justified and happy that they will
not be “forced” to serve those whom they have already pre-judged to
not be suitable candidates for their public services. I kind of
thought that we had faced that issue down, at least publicly if not in
the objectors’ hearts, during the Civil Rights Movement.
In issues such as this, we need to first identify what each side wants
as the outcome of their particular demands. One side obviously wants
to be able to NOT SERVE certain customers because of their own stated
religious beliefs. The other side obviously wants to be served as a
basic human or civil right, although I think we would all agree with
policies that would allow a business to NOT serve the blatantly rude,
disruptive or immodest: the screaming, dish-breaking, fist-fighting,
naked, topless or bottomless type of customer. So, now that the
desired outcomes have been identified (what it is each side wants),
how does one satisfy both sides?
There’s a story about a man who was a heavy smoker. He also wanted to
be closer to God, but didn’t have much time for churchy things, so he
asked his pastor if it would be alright if he smoked while praying.
The pastor gave him one of those “Have you no respect for God?” kind
of looks, and of course said no to his request. Well, not about to
give up on his simple desire, he thought about it and went to a pastor
in another town to get a second opinion. This time he asked if it
would be alright if he prayed while smoking. “Of course,” said the
pastor. “God accepts all prayers at all times under all conditions.”
Funny how those who are demanding religious freedom for their
discriminatory stance claim it by virtue of being affiliated with
Christianity. Didn’t Jesus tend to mingle with the so-called
“undesirables,” and didn’t he tell people to “love your neighbor as
yourself”? And even more, didn’t Jesus also state that God requires an
even higher level of loving our neighbor — that of loving each other
even as God has loved us? How then, in any possible interpretation of
claiming religious freedom for one’s Christian beliefs, could a
follower of Jesus claim that serving any particular individual would
be against his religion?
Why must there be two sides to this issue? First, isn’t business
business? Are you not open for business to the public at large? Did
you not start your business to make money? Is not the money from one
customer as good as the money from another? If the answer to that last
question is no, perhaps you are not meant to be a businessman or
-woman. Perhaps you should seriously consider closing down your
business since you may well go bankrupt after word gets around.
Two questions for those on the Religious Freedom side to ask themselves:
–Wouldn’t it be wrong to serve a gay person who comes to my business
or establishment when I’m trying to live my life according to my
sincere Christian beliefs?
–Would it be okay to love and serve all my neighbors (which would
include any gay customers that come into my place of business) just as
God has asked us to love (and serve) each other as He has loved us?
Two questions for those on the other side to ask themselves:
–Which would I prefer: To resolve this issue, or to criticize,
ridicule and embarrass those who haven’t understood the great lessons
that Jesus taught?
–What is more important: To finally get, once and for all, what ought
to be equal rights for all customers to be served — period — or to get
some kind of revenge for the salesperson’s refusal to serve?
(Remember that scene in “Pretty Woman” where the salesperson did not
want to wait on Julia Roberts’ character — a “hooker”- because she
wasn’t their store’s kind of client and/or she assumed the “hooker”
didn’t have any money? Regardless of the “why,” that saleswoman lost
out on a huge commission. I can’t believe that anyone watching that
movie was on the side of the snooty saleswoman.)
The words we choose to state our situation can help us determine the
outcome, but first we must identify just what it is we really want. Do
we want to support our own prejudices by claiming that is what our
religion teaches, or do we really want religious freedom (as in this
particular case) to follow the teachings of Jesus, who would have us
love one another as God has loved us?
So, prejudice vs. love of neighbor. Which will it be?
World peace awaits the outcome of SB 1026.
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She
writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether it comes out of the mouth of a beauty pageant contestant, a