Secede! For real?
I’m sure you’ve all seen the news stories about the petitions signed by citizens of each of the 50 states to secede from the union following the recent re-election of President Obama. It’s true that the majority of those who drafted and signed these petitions were just feeling the initial salt in their wounds because their Presidential candidate lost the electoral college as well as the popular vote. That can be excused or at least understood; let’s not forget all of the people who wanted to move out of the country after Bush was elected for a second term. Reading the petitions on the We The People White House site is interesting, and comical in some areas, as you see what is on the mind of some of our passionate fellow Americans. If you peruse the site the majority of the petitions have a few hundred signatures, but these secession petitions have several thousand and states like North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee have upwards of 30,000 signatures. The state where I live, Texas has over 100,000 signatures. There’s quite a movement here.
State pride is cool of course. I have pride in my home state of Massachusetts for reasons like, that is where America began and it is home to some of the best schools and hospitals in the world, etc. I never met anyone from Massachusetts with the state flag tattooed on their body, but I see that all the time here. My nephew came home with a picture of the Texas flag he drew in the shape of the state of Texas – when he was FIVE. It’s just been a bit of a culture shock.
Moving to Texas has been quite an educational experience for me in many ways, but specifically in the realm of this secession issue and state sovereignty. I honestly didn’t think “secede” was a contemporary word. I thought it was associated with the Civil War era in our history, since that’s the only context I have ever heard or read the word referenced in my lifetime. Well now I’m in Texas, and I’ve seen the bumper stickers! The exact bumper sticker that you see at the top of this post is the bumper sticker I have seen in real life on real people’s cars in the 2000′s. It blew my mind the first time I saw it. I was in the parking lot walking into a church that I used to frequent and there the truck was sitting in one of the visitor spots close to the entrance. I stood there for what seemed like 5 minutes in disbelief. It made me nervous. I think the other stickers on the truck, “NO-BAMA” and the “Sons of Confederate Veterans” which featured a confederate flag added to the nervousness I felt. (No church is perfect, but I haven’t been back to that particular one in over a year for more reasons than this isolated observation, but it hasn’t yet been erased from my memory.)
I went to the Texas Secede! website to get a sense of what their deal is. Why is it so hard to just identify as an American who lives in whatever state you live in? The site appears to be written by a lawyer or someone with higher education. I say this not to put anyone down, but I think a lot of us might dismiss this movement as simply a bunch of illiterate fringe crazies united by the Internet (have you seen the SECDEE picture?), I did at first! But it appears there are some well-read, well-educated people who are very serious about this movement, or they paid them to write their website. Their website features this passage from the Texas Declaration of Independence of 1836 several times throughout the site and in almost every answer in their FAQ section:
“When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived…[it is] the inherent and inalienable right of the people to…abolish such government, and create another in its stead…”
Of course, these liberties and this protection of lives did not apply to the slaves whose free labor basically created the wealth and power that came with it in this state. In referencing the reason Texas and the other confederate states wanted to secede from the Union originally, this website claims that:
“The Confederate States (including Texas) withdrew from the Union lawfully, civilly, and peacefully, after enduring several years of excessive and inequitable federal tariffs (taxes) heavily prejudiced against Southern commerce.”
“Prejudiced against Southern commerce” which was basically what? Forgive me, I can’t get away from this slavery issue for some reason… I read this as, “we want to be FREE to get rich off of the enslavement of people and if you have a problem with it, we don’t want to be a part of your country”. Did I mention that the Texas slaves didn’t even find out they were lawfully free until 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation? Yes, this is where the Juneteenth celebrations originated. Regretfully, I have yet to see the Lincoln movie, but I hope seeing the details of this history on the big screen will remind people why we might be nervous about states that STILL want to secede from the Union. What would an “Independent Republic of Texas” look like for me and my family? What about those who are less fortunate than we are? As it stands now, Texas, despite having the largest medical center in the world, has the highest number of uninsured and scored below average on preparing students for the science careers of tomorrow (and today). The secessionists also don’t want citizens to pay taxes, but I still need someone to explain to me how roads are built and maintained, how police officers get paid, how schools stay open without the support of tax dollars. As it stands now, the majority of fire fighters in my city are volunteers!
Perhaps my bias as an American that is a descendent of slaves, and that identifies as an American before a native of my state, will never allow me to see the sense in this secession movement. Although I didn’t find explicit mention of a particular spiritual affiliation involved with this movement, I would bet the Powerball jackpot that the majority of the petition signers identify as Christians. With this said, I would like to remind my brothers and sisters in Christ of this passage in Romans 13:
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (NIV)
I’m just saying…
DISCLAIMER from Kara: I feel the need to say that I do not hate living in Texas. I know the picture I have painted makes it seem like I hate it here, but I truly enjoy it. Despite the experiences mentioned above, which are all true, I feel relatively comfortable here. I like Houston for the following reasons:
- the weather is great almost all year
- even though Houston is the 4th largest city in the country it really have a small-town or suburban feel
- the neighborhoods are cute and you can get a lot of house for not a whole lot of money in a major city!
- it’s easy to drive here (especially after learning how to drive in the Boston area)
- it is home to the largest medical center in the world
- I have family and good friends here
- strangers are nice to you for no reason
- people have strong faith here and aren’t ashamed of it
- people in the HOOD have horses and they ride them to the corner store (one of the funniest sights I ever did see!)
- there are great restaurants here
- there is a sense of freedom here in that you don’t feel like you will be judged because you don’t have the right clothes, shoes, hair, etc (but people wear slippers to the grocery store sometimes and that’s really weird to me)
- my son was born here
- and most importantly, I feel like this is where God wants me to be right now
Sorry if I tainted anyone’s view with the original piece. Notice the political climate was not on my list of likes, but no where is perfect!
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