‘Just Walk Away, Renee’

Back in 1965, many from my generation were singing along to our radios, and to television’s American Bandstand, Shindig, and Hullabaloo, enjoying the Rock and Roll explosion that our country was experiencing at that time.

One of the hit songs of ’65, was performed by a group called Left Banke. It was called “Walk Away, Renee.”

In the 1980s, First Lady Nancy Reagan used a phrase to encourage young people not to use drugs, which became a catchphrase of that time. Her anti-drug program was based on three words, “Just say no.” (Just walk away.)

Many people have become accustomed to eating out more these days due to busy schedules, kids’ participation in so many things that take up the time that cooking a meal might take. In some of those instances, it may be ordering pizza, or doing the fast food thing, or maybe even a choice of buffet places in their area. Regardless, whatever we want to eat is a choice we make by looking at a menu, or seeing what the buffet includes. If there are things on that menu we don’t like, chances are we aren’t going to order that. If there are things on the buffet that we don’t like, we’re not going to include them on our plates as we serve ourselves. (Just walk away.)

How many times do we channel surf in today’s world? I know I’m constantly on the Direct TV Guide to see what might be on at times other than what we regularly watch. We want to find something that looks good or might look good based on program information.

If we check something out and don’t particularly like it, for whatever reason, we can turn to another channel, or turn the television off. (Just walk away.)

We listen to music we enjoy. If a song comes on our radios and it’s not one of our favorite songs, we have the choice to turn the station, or turn it off. If we don’t like to watch a certain sport on television, we don’t have to watch it. (Just walk away.)

Bottom line is that all people are different in various ways. Some share likenesses of the same foods, music, entertainment, styles of clothing, but some have differences in their tastes of all of those things as well.

Fortunately, we live in a country that allows us freedom to enjoy what we like, or to speak our minds, even if we don’t agree with someone else. We also enjoy freedom to do something that someone else may disagree with, and they enjoy the freedom of not doing it.

I am of Italian heritage. I enjoy Italian food (Pasta, Meatballs, Eggplant Parmesan, Cannoli, etc.) I also enjoy cuisine from other heritages (Mexican, Swedish, some French, some Saudi Arabian too.)

I enjoy Italian entertainers (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett Dom Irrera) and I enjoy other entertainers whose backgrounds came from other ethnicities (Sammy Davis, Jr., John Denver, Jimmy Buffett, Jerry Seinfeld) too. This doesn’t mean someone can’t like foods or entertainers that I don’t particularly care for, nor does it mean that they have to like the foods or entertainers that I do like.

We also have freedom of worship in this country. People can choose if they will exercise that freedom, or choose not to do so. Those who choose to worship, have the freedom to choose what religion or denomination to which to follow or belong.

I’m a practicing Roman Catholic. I follow that faith. I don’t always agree with all doctrines, or policies of the Catholic Church, but that’s the faith I follow. I have friends who follow other religions, and I have no problem with their choice. I also have friends and acquaintances who choose not to follow a religion, and I have no problem there either.

So, what does all of this mean? If, I go into a restaurant and don’t like something they have on the menu, do I have the right to demand that that item be taken off of the menu? If I’m not a fan of opera music, do I have the right to ask or demand that all opera music be taken off of any form of musical entertainment in existence?

If I don’t care for a certain entertainer who comes to Jamestown during Lucy Fest, do I have the right to demand that that person be banned from ever performing in Chautauqua County? Because I’m a Catholic, should everyone be one, or should every other denomination be banned from practice?

I enjoy the sound of Jamestown High School’s A’Capella Choir. Their annual Christmas concert is a holiday treat I look forward to hearing as much as possible. Much of the music performed has religious connections. I don’t really think about that as I am enjoying the beautiful voices in unison. It’s just beautiful music.

The A’Capella Choir and many other choirs from schools in the area take trips to Europe, and Canada, maybe to South America, and almost inevitably the trip includes at least one church or cathedral where the groups perform.

Because of the connection with religion, should all of those trips be banned and those students who have the opportunity to experience travel to another country, other cultures, other types of food and customs, miss out on that? The students and/or their families have the choice of not going on the trips, but why should some lose out on an amazing experience, because there are a few who don’t agree with them?

And recently, a decision was made in one local school district to eliminate the Baccalaureate (which I believe is an optional part of the graduation week activities), because some don’t feel that religion should be promoted in connection with schools. The Separation of Church and State seems to be applied, and/or adhered to, with regard to schools, but not necessarily with all aspects of the rest of the state.

The day after 9-11, the Legislature of these United States gathered for a prayer service, yet many public schools were not afforded the same privilege. There’s an annual Prayer Breakfast held at the White House (usually during the first week of February) with many religious leaders from all over the world in attendance. When I was in Washington, in 2008, we saw a motorcade traveling to the White House, transporting the Pope to the White House. Separation of Church and State? It seems like policies need to be followed by whomever our leaders tell to follow them, but those enforcing the policies have “diplomatic privilege” to do what they want.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with allowing prayer, and sponsoring prayer breakfasts. I don’t have a problem with people objecting to those things, but why can’t we let those who believe, do it, and those who don’t, be allowed to not participate?

Kudos to those in Clymer who sat down and allowed that to happen. Baccalaureate will go on in the tiny Dutch Village this year. It’ll just be moved to a church in the community. Those who want to attend have that option. Those who don’t have the same right to follow their hearts and minds too.

So why can’t schools have a gathering place where students and staff can meet daily for five minutes of prayer if they choose to do so, and allow those who don’t wish to participate to remain in homeroom with staff who choose not to participate. We don’t have to eliminate some things for the sake of the beliefs of a majority, or a minority, of people.

It’s like not liking a TV program, we can choose not to watch it, or not liking a certain food at a restaurant, we can choose not to order it, rather than taking the program off TV or the food off the menu. We have the option of walking away. We need to stop looking for ways to divide us as a people and come up with more ways to allow us to co-exist.

COMMENTS