Peace and Freedom in Berkeley
As we celebrate our national Independence Day, I am pleased that my award-winning novel, The Fire Trail (eLectio, 2016), a literary suspense set at UC Berkeley, freely expressed through the art of fiction the dangerous times in which we live. I am also pleased with the Presidential election outcome of last year, a year of hope and change, in spite of those who are dividing America with violence and vitriol.
As an irredeemable deplorable, I have no voter regret. I am glad I voted for Mr. Trump. He is working hard to protect our country at home and abroad. He is fighting for peace and freedom. He is a man of substance over style, policy over personality. It is a travesty that he has been so viciously attacked by the Left, who continue to goad others in their hysteria. It is even worse that the President’s own party has not supported as they should, elitists who look down on his common manners. But in spite of the witch hunts from all sides, the President retains his focus. He is a man of strength and vision, working to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, bolstering world peace and ensuring our freedoms – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He is honoring the need for the rule of law and the authority of the Constitution as the necessary threads that will reweave the fabric of our culture.
I attend a small collegiate chapel one block from UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. We witness first hand the violence of the illiberal Left, the name calling, the derision, the hate. At the last confrontation, when Ann Coulter was forced to cancel her speech because of "safety" issues, the police increased staff in case the mob appeared, which they did. The police succeeded in keeping the peace with a handful of arrests. Our chapel so far has not been harmed, and we keep the doors open to all peaceful visitors. Later that week Melanie Phillips, the noted British journalist, spoke to Cal students in a secret meeting on campus, the university fearing more violence.
Cal is, after all, the home of the Free Speech Movement. With the Presidential election I had hoped that our freedom to express our beliefs would be protected. I had hoped that peace and freedom would be reborn. Our country, held hostage by political correctness, crime, and anarchy, was in trouble. Without shared law and order, a common ground, a uniting demos, tyranny rules. I had hoped that the country would honor whomever was elected President, simply because he or she was the people’s choice, simply because we are Americans, simply because we honor our democratic process.
I was not prepared for the civil unrest that continues to this day, gripping and paralyzing academic institutions, our supposedly great centers of debate. Here in Berkeley – and Middlebury and Claremont – tyranny reigns in the public square. It is a tyranny of elites, not unlike those we fought in 1776.
Our "free" press, largely owned by the Left, take sides in an ongoing onslaught of derision and invective, hurting and dividing our nation. Hysterical and irresponsible, they laud style over substance, personality over policy. They fuel hate through social media, through Hollywood and New York entertainment, through network news, encouraging the deranged to kill and maim innocents.
Our collegiate chapel is an icon of peace and freedom, our civil expression of the love of God for the students and the community of Berkeley. Our chapel is a word in itself, an expression by its very presence. We host recitals. We chant psalms at noon. We celebrate the Mass on Sundays. We light tapers before icons. We are allowed to do this – to make, to be, a public expression – for we have been guaranteed free speech in the First Amendment.
Americans desire peace and freedom, law and order. They want equality under the law. Many women voted for Mr. Trump for we want safe streets and schools for our children. We want protection from assault. We want crimes prosecuted and criminals removed from our sidewalks and parks. We don’t want to live in fear, hiding behind locked doors. We are mothers and grandmothers and aunts and sisters. We care immensely about family, the next generation, and the one after that. We fear for our daughters and granddaughters.
I am proud of America. I am proud that her citizens could see through the hype and slander and lies of the media and the elites on both sides. They saw through the fog, the evasion of the issues, the focus on style over substance, the outright fear-mongering. They were labeled, punished, and scolded into silence. They were accused of racism and homophobia and judged deplorable, derided by friends and family.
We must find our common ground as Americans. As Roger Scruton wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal in "The Case for Nations":
"Democracy means rule by the people and requires us to know who the people are, what unites them and how they can form a government… We need an identity that leads to citizenship, which is the relation between the state and the individual in which each is accountable to the other. That is what the nation provides… that defines us…the sovereignty of the people, in a place of their own."
We share this place, America. We share her land, her history, her ideals. We share a love for freedom, human dignity, and equal justice. We must join hands together if we are to win against a world of tyranny, slavery, and inequality. As historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote recently in "Can a sharply divided America still survive?":
"Today’s growing divides are supercharged by instant internet and social media communications, 24/7 cable news, partisan media and the denigration of America’s past traditions. All Americans need to take a deep breath, step back and rein in their anger. Things are bad now. But our history suggests that if we are not careful, they can get even worse."
Indeed, they can get far worse without respect for one another. Many Americans have fought and continue to fight for my right to worship in our beautiful barrel-vaulted chapel alight with song and thundering organ and flaming candles and hovering angels. They fought and fight today for my right to write these words. This is is our common ground, our shared vision and history.
We light our candles in our chapel. We pray for a more perfect union, a more peaceful union. We pray for peace as we exercise our freedoms on this Fourth of July 2017 in Berkeley.
0 0 votes
Article Rating