Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Last Lesson My Father Taught Me

To my dad, David P. Wagner, may he rest in peace. January 3, 1956 - February 6, 2012.

When I respond that I majored in history at university, most often people ask "So, do you want to teach?" After I say my two cents, most people will ask "Why did you major in history?" My response is usually "History teaches you to learn from your mistakes so you don't make them in the future." This is not only true of global events, like the Holocaust, but even in our own personal histories.

The day my father died, my sister and I had a fight and I stormed out of the house without saying goodbye to anyone and drove back to school. About six hours later at 9:30pm, my sister called me and said our father died. On the way back home from school, about a 90 minute hike, I kept thinking to myself that I did not say goodbye to my father while he was still here.

As I went through the next week, even after myriads of people tried to console me, I blamed myself for not saying goodbye to my dad, even though he knew I loved him and I knew he loved me. Then it came to me; my dad taught me a lesson, his last one, one I will never forget: Never forget your past experiences because they can teach you something in the future.

Never was this more true than about a week after my dad died. I was over at my grandparents' house discussing bills and such. My grandfather said something that deeply offended me. I flew off the handle and, as i was getting ready to walk out the door, it hit me: My father's lesson! I immediately apologized to my grandfather and said I loved him and that I appreciate all he is doing for my mother, sister, and I during this difficult time. It seems that dad's lesson was guiding me.

The moral of this blogpost is that history has an uncanny ability to remind you of your past mistakes to make sure you try never to repeat them again. That day I ran out of my house and did not say goodbye to my father is something that I will never forget. For this, I am eternally grateful because my dad taught me a lesson.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Letter to Mr. Obama

Dear Mr. Obama,

            I am writing to you today to inform you of my disapproval of your administration’s policies toward Catholics in United States specifically with regard to the recent law demanding that Catholic institutions go against their consciences and provide for the termination of the lives of the unborn.

            As you may know, sir, history is something that does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. One of the founding principles of the United States of America was the free exercise of religion for all of the citizens of this great country of ours; this is preserved in the First Amendment. As you also may know, Catholics have always been looked upon with fear and suspicion. We accept the pope, not only as the successor of Saint Peter, but as Christ’s Vicar on Earth. I can understand why some people of the past were apprehensive about accepting Catholics in politics; there is always the temptation to say Catholics will obey the pope over their own president. But as you can see, Mr. Obama, Catholics are some of the most faithful Americans because we acknowledge and practice the idea that each human being has worth and each person’s opinion matters. This, sir, is democracy. Catholics, though, have lost the right to practice their faith, just like before the founding of the United States. The present, it seems, rhymes with the past.

            You, though, Mr. Obama, have effectively told Catholics that we are not valued citizens by taking away our right not to submit to a law that violates our beliefs. I suspect, sir, that if other religious groups, like the Amish or Muslims, opposed this, you would have done everything in your power to protect their rights. Catholics are often relegated to being second or even third class citizens. Our rights are sometimes not taken into consideration and we are always left wondering why. Did we offend you somehow? Did we do something to warrant our rights being taken away from us? Obviously, the higher-ranking bishops of the country cannot dissuade you from going through with this piece of legislation. I must ask you though, sir, would you please preserve our right to exercise our beliefs freely?

            I voted for you in 2008 when I was studying history at Quincy University because I really believed that change could come, quite possibly, ushering in a new era of equality for the American people, regardless of gender, color, race, or creed. I am sorry to say, Mr. Obama, that you have failed not only me, but also all of the Catholics in this country. You are not defending our rights; rather, you are acting like a tyrannical dictator who wishes to impose his will on his subjects rather than the president I elected you to be. Please do not count on my vote this November.

            I know you are busy, so I cannot assume you will read this letter. All I ask from you, Mr. Obama (or whomever is reading this), is that you defend my right not to end an innocent life.

            Please be assured of my prayers for you and for your family.


                                    Joseph Wagner