So, here's the thing, I am really sick and tired of people trying to tell me what I can and cannot do when it comes to my personal beliefs.
Where does this rant come from? Well, there have been letters and comments by the Essex County Board of Supervisors about whether they should be saying an invocation, or prayer at the beginning of their meetings.
The answer is simple - of course, they should.
Why shouldn't they? Because someone thinks it infringes upon their either lack of belief or personal freedoms? Of course it doesn't.
As a Christian, if anything, people advocating against having an invocation is infringing upon my personal freedoms.
Back in the day, Chris Jackson, aka Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, had a problem with the National Anthem. You know what he did? Nothing.
When it was played, he didn't stand. He did nothing. And you know, I have no problem with that whatsoever, because he felt that it was his right not to stand for something he did "not believe in."
The same is true for anyone that doesn't fell it is appropriate to have an invocation at the beginning of a board meeting. Do nothing. Don't bow your head, don't close your eyes, think about baseball or what you're going to have for dinner instead of listening to the words, although I doubt anything is going to be said that makes you want to run screaming from the hall or make your ears bleed.
In short, if you don't believe in prayer, don't do it.
It's just like the radio. When it comes to the "shock jocks" and Howard Sterns of the world, I don't storm the palace, calling for them to be banned. There's no need to take away someone's free speech because I am morally offended. You know what I do? You got it, I do nothing.
By nothing, that means I don't turn their station on, I don't involve myself in conversations about their shows and what "wild and outlandish" thing they did this week. I don't let my kids listen to them while I have influence on them and hope that my example will lead them to do the same. So, my doing nothing makes them "nothing" in my world.
Why do people feel that everyone must enjoy the same things and that all prayers, speech and art must conform? They shouldn't. I have heard all sorts of prayers from all sorts of people, and as far as I'm concerned, they're all good ones.
Just because I don't like what someone on the radio is saying doesn't mean that someone else isn't cracking up or really interested in that host's political views.
In short, this push to censor and streamline is trying to turn us into robots with no sense of personal worth or thought, but rather making us a collective of ideas. Please stop it, because you're not going to win.
So, when the county board says the invocation, I will bow my head, close my eyes and listen to what is being said. You can do nothing and my guess is you'll be just as happy when it is over and there will be no lightning bolts coming from the skies because you didn't listen.
Just do nothing.
Keith Lobdell is the editor of the Valley News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org