Forgive me, for I have sinned: I’m a political junkie.
Today it’s Super Tuesday which means a lot of states are going to vote for presidential nominees. I heard a quote on the radio this morning from a southern Baptist leader, who said this election cycle is like they “put LSD in the water”.
I have to agree.
Today is also the anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials.
I also must confess that I am a student of history. You know the saying, if you don’t remember and learn, you’re doomed to repeat? That’s where we are today. There are so many signs pointing to the past (some even flashing neon) telling us to not go down that road. It’s up to us to pay attention.
Salem wasn’t so much about witchcraft as it was fear and greed. There was an element (maybe) with the preachers daughters using divination with their slave…how’s that for irony, a man of God owning another person as property, rather negating the whole no Jew or Greek or slave or free thing in Paul’s epistles. By the time the madness had settled (and the governors wife had been accused), there was a lot of blood on people’s hands.
Twenty people were put to death, mostly by hanging, one crushed by heavy rocks. (Giles Corey, who until he was accused along with his wife, said during the experience instead of confessing, to add more weight). Many of the accused were different, outsiders, not part of the in crowd. A slave, a beggar (who had a dispute with her son over his inheritance), outspoken political critics, non church goers…all were marginalized members of Massachusetts society, and easy targets.
The “trials” were a joke in terms of legal proceedings. They allowed “spectral evidence”, meaning ghosts could influence the testimony. A 4 year old was questioned and her mother was convicted and executed, partially based on it. That’s a heavy load to bear.
Fast forward to 2016. Who would be accused of “witchcraft” today? We have candidates who espouse their divine selection, others that attempt to marginalize those who are different, even more that behave like the petulant child accusers. Their campaigns use spectral evidence to try to derail discussion of the real issues.
In my son’s 7th grade current events class, they are focusing on the campaign. He and I have had a lot of great discussions about the process, the policies and the psychopathy of it all. It’s amazing hearing and seeing the world through his eyes, and what matters most to him. At his age, I was worried about Red Dawn really happening (Colorado was right next to Utah), but what I was worried most about was if I was going to scrape together enough pocket change for the tickets to see the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag or the Circle Jerks as they made the drive of shame through Salt Lake City. (I swear the great Jello Biafra rant “Night of the Living Rednecks” took place there)
He’s living in a vastly different world than I inhabited during my teen years. He’s a lot more hip to what’s going on than I ever was at that age. The 24 hour news cycle and the Internet are a huge part of that. I love discussing what issues matter most to him, and while we don’t always agree, it’s awesome to hear him form his own opinions and not get spoon fed, regurgitating mine.
As we remember a dark moment in US history today, we need to not repeat it. I want to think that my fellow Americans are hip, cool people who have it together and want to have it all. If your state is voting today, do it. If not, make sure you’re registered so you’re ready for your turn. Don’t get swept up by mass hysteria. Don’t force others to stand for examination before those who have already determined their guilt based on their socioeconomic standing, color, creed or who they love. Be ready to condemn those who have let things get to far. Most of all, make your voice heard.