Copyright © 2007 Henrietta W. Hay
The Culture Wars
October 21, 2007
The world is full of problems and it is awfully hard to see the solutions. We are fighting two wars today and we see no clear solution to either of them. The Iraq War might end in a decade or two, but the religious problems it has exacerbated may never end.
Leaving the Iraq War to the politicians who are running it, I have been thinking a lot about that other war-the culture war. Every now and then I get philosophical, and that is dangerous to my sleep pattern and ability to write with any logic.
It generally requires a serious discussion with my friend the philosopher.
Thinking out loud with someone who is a history major, and a student of anthropology to boot, generally brings me back to reality
So is the American culture changing? Of course it is. It is threatened.
One dictionary definition of the word "culture" as," The customs, arts,
social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other
Early man (and woman) had their own cultures.
Throughout the ages cultures have been changed by wars. Most of them have
been over somebody's religion, or have used religion as to cover another reason, namely power. But whoever won most of those wars, women were, the real losers. The men had the power.
Then the United States of America was created with a brand new idea. Our constitution separates church and state. It gives freedom to both, but as separate entities.
But in spite of Abigail Adams' plea to her husband, John, to "remember the ladies," they didn't.
So we really started out with women in the same position they had always
been in. No property rights and no voting rights.
American culture should have changed in 1920 when women were given the vote.
But not all women became involved in political thinking. A woman I knew right here in Grand Junction was sitting down at the polling place one election day. I asked her whether she had voted and she said, "I'm waiting for my husband to tell me who to vote for."
Our culture really started to change again in the seventies, influenced by the Vietnam War and the emergence of the second womens' movement.
Women started demanding equality. They finished college in ever increasing numbers. They became doctors and lawyers and engineers and executives and governors and senators. They started reaching for the glass ceiling. That represented a major change in American culture.
But religious fundamentalism was gaining strength and threatens another kind of major change.
Another dictionary definition reads, "Culture War: A conflict between groups with different ideals, beliefs and philosophies."
The Christian fundamentalists believe that they alone know the ultimate truth and that law should be based on that truth. Sounds like Islamic fundamentalism doesn't it?
So we are faced with social "issues" instead of governmental problems and once again women are the victims. One of the most serious issues is the attempt to substitute Biblical creationism for the teaching of scientific evolution in the public schools.
Women are threatened with being denied the power to control their own bodies. Medical science is limited in stem cell research and other areas.
Some people would even limit freedom of speech to ensure that their values prevail. The wall between church and state is in danger of being torn down.
This is a culture war. If our Republic is to stand and our grandchildren are to enjoy the freedoms we have, we must defend those freedoms-the freedom to speak, to choose our way of life, and to worship as we choose.