Friday, April 15, 2011

Moment of Silence Vs. Prayer

You're sitting at you're child's (or friend's kid's) graduation. The students make their way to the stage area, and the announcer proclaims something to the effect of "An now, please observe a moment of silence." Are you angry? Isn't this a time for prayer? Isn't this a time to thank God for getting the kid through the rough years of high school or college? How dare the institution be so insensitive to your religion! Dang it, you should be allowed to pray! My question to you: Why are you so angry?

Let me tell you a quick story. Back in 2006 I was finishing up my freshman year of high school. The graduating class was ready to go down the aisle to get their diplomas. A few days before the graduation, however, the ACLU got involved. Every year my school said The Lord's Prayer during the ceremony, and the organization stepped in and stopped it, citing a separation of Church and State. Everyone, me included, was furious. It was tradition! It was graduation! This wasn't right! We were letting the Godless atheists win! But there was nothing we could do. The decision was made, and the prayer was off. Instead, a moment of silence was implemented "to do what you wanted with." The day of graduation, during the moment of silence, the entire graduating class (save for a few), led by the valedictorian (my former team captain), lead the class in The Lord's Prayer. A victory! We had shown them! They beat the system! After that, any and all attempts to recreate this were foiled, but it was still well remembered.

I tell you that story because it brings to light a very important question: What's wrong with a moment of silence? The atheists didn't win. The Christians didn't lose. The ACLU wasn't the evil organization the administration and local newspapers made it out to be. The moment of silence could have brought us all together. Instead, the ignorance of others helped it to drive us apart, on the happiest day of 300 student's lives. 

Alright, I think that was enough set up. Observing a moment of silence instead of praying is a good thing (yes, my ideas changed between 2006 and 2011. Got a problem with that?) It's not a bad thing that Christians can't say their prayer all together, out loud, for everyone to hear. And the atheists aren't winning just because they complained the loudest about the prayer. In fact, in this instance, everyone wins. How's that? America isn't just Christians and atheists.

Despite what the media would have you believe, America is a melting pot (sound familiar? Maybe elementary school?). There are people of all races, genders, and creeds here. In one public school, there is guaranteed to be at least one Jew, one atheist, and many Christians. And that's just for a rural area. In a larger city school, there are sure to be Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccas, and maybe even some other religion. Wouldn't a moment of silence better serve all these people? That way, everyone could reflect or pray in the way that suits their needs the best. 

Now, I know some people won't get this. "America is a Christian nation though!" No. It is a melting pot. Did you not read that, or do you fail to understand the concept of immigration? It's been happening for at least 100 years. "Why should I have to hide my religion? I'm proud of it!" Great. Show it off. But don't let it interfere with someone else's beliefs. "But my way of thinking is correct! My god is the only one/There is no God!" Ok, go on thinking that. The people who believe differently are probably thinking something along those lines too, but they have the good sense to keep it to themselves. Why must everything be your way?

Short and skinny of it: A moment of silence is better than prayer at pretty much any public event because it better serves the entire populace. The people who are getting offended probably wouldn't be if they stopped and reversed the roles for a minute, or even just thought as everyone as just people. Prayer alone divides people at times when they should be united as one. And finally, no one is "losing" anything, and no one is "gaining" anything, except maybe a mutual tolerance and bond for and with each other. Food for thought as many ceremonies are just around the corner. 

What do you think? Am I right? Or way off base with this? Tell me what you think! Leave a comment or contact me to let me know your thoughts! 

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