History shows that Jimmy Carter may not have been the best of Presidents, but he was surely one of the kindest. He is also an excellent speaker whose morals are never questioned, and his true contribution to society started after his presidency ended. A truly religious man, Carter never uses the Bible as a weapon but as a tool. When asked about his feelings on religion as it pertains to gay marriage he answered, “I believe Jesus would approved. I don’t have any verse in scripture. ... I believe Jesus would approve of gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else.” Such a simple premise could bring such positive change in so many walks of life.
Carter gave the commencement speech at Liberty University in Virginia on May 19th. He talked about what he sees as the biggest problem facing our world today. He didn’t focus on world hunger, climate change or even the Middle-East issues. He clearly stated that the biggest crisis our world must address is discrimination against women and girls. He spoke about human trafficking and sexual assault, and he mentioned the countries that abort or kill newborn girls. It is difficult to conceive of these things happening in the twenty-first century, but indeed they do.
This past year has brought our attention to the abuse women experience in our country every day. The correction of these problems must begin with mothers and fathers as they raise their sons and daughters. Amy Schumer said something on Saturday Night Live several weeks ago that resonated with me, and I have been thinking about it ever since. When I was in second grade, there was a little boy, Harvey, who used to annoy me constantly. He would push me, trip me and make fun of my curly hair. When I complained to the teacher, she smiled and whispered, “ that is because he likes you, Beverly. Some little boys are embarrassed to show their feelings, so they hurt you to get your attention.” WHAT!!! At the time I just nodded my head like I understood, but WHAT!!!
Think about it. From the earliest days of social contact, girls are taught that boys show affection in violent ways, and boys are taught that girls will accept it. Harvey needed to learn right then and there that violence against women is NEVER acceptable, and I needed to learn that I should never allow ANYONE to disrespect me. I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who instilled this in me, but that didn’t protect me from some unpleasant situations as I matured. We tried to raise Michael and Beth to be respectful of all people and hopefully they too will continue to rise above what society considers the norm.
It is all in our hands. In fact, the only thing that we can truly control in our lives is how we act and react, and that is the lesson that parents and teachers need to focus on. In his commencement speech President Carter shared similar thoughts with a rapt audience. “We're the ones who decide, do I hate or am I filled with love? We're the ones who decide, do I only think about myself, or do I care for others? We ourselves make these decisions and no one else.” Hopefully his audience got the message.
I was interested in finding out more about Jimmy Carter and his presidency, so I read
President Carter: The White House Years by Stuart E. Eizenstat. Our 39th President is quite an interesting man who probably doesn’t get proper credit for his accomplishments while in Office. While not my favorite book on a President, this was is definitely worth reading.
As usual, a complete review of this book will follow my blog.