Here is my advice as we begin the century that will lead to 2081. First, guard the freedom of ideas at all costs. Be alert that dictators have always played on the natural human tendency to blame others and to oversimplify. And don’t regard yourself as a guardian of freedom unless you respect and preserve the rights of people you disagree with to free, public, unhampered expression.
~Gerard K. O’Neill, 2081
As I was looking through quotes for today, I ran across this one and thought it was very fitting for the climate in our country right now. There is a lot of political tension in regards to Obama, gay marriage, gun control and national finances. So many people want to discourage others from expressing their opinions and views when they are not mainstream or popular. Too many times people get all defensive when someone disagrees with their particular stance on something. It still kills me that people throw out the race card whenever someone dislikes something Obama does or disagrees with something he or his supporters say. It isn’t racist to disagree with someone. It is using your First Amendment right to express yourself.
It really is sad how many people only want the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and to apply to them and those who agree with their line of thought. What kind of country are we driving ourselves towards when we only let those who agree with us be heard? Do we really want a country where information is withheld and opinions and ideas are quashed? That goes against what our country stands for. Our country was founded to be a place of refuge from tyranny and oppression. This country was created so people could make up their own minds and live as they chose.
As we all go about celebrating the day our country came into being, we should all take a few moments and reflect on what it was that our founding fathers were fighting for and what they wanted for their posterity when they signed the Declaration of Independence. They wanted EVERYONE to have the ability to be free, mind and body. They wanted us to be able to express our opinions without fear of recrimination. They wanted us to be able to express our disapproval with our leaders and hold them accountable for their misdeeds.
So, next time you are having a conversation, looking through posts on facebook or reading blogs and find an opinion being expressed that you don’t agree with, be thankful that you have the ability to see that. Be thankful that you have the right to disagree openly with someone else. Be thankful that you have the right to petition and rally for causes that you believe in. Be thankful that you live in the United States and have freedoms we all enjoy.
And also be on guard. For some of the freedoms we hold dear are under attack. Freedom of Speech is being hammered away at by those who can’t handle people who disagree with them. The Right to Bear Arms is slowly being taken away by those who want the power out of the hands of the people. Our Protection from Unreasonable Search and Seizure is being violated by those who say it is in the interests of national security to monitor all US citizens. And the Power of the States is slowly being taken over by the power of the federal government.
The United States is a great country and I am very thankful for having had the privilege of growing up with the freedoms I have enjoyed. The rights our founding fathers have endowed us with are precious and sacred. We should all be thankful for this gift they left us with and we must all be diligent in making sure that our rights are not taken away. If we become complacent to the wrong deeds that are going on around us, we are handing our rights away with a smile. Be thankful for the freedoms we have and remember that they are not free. These freedoms were paid for with the blood of our ancestors and continue to be paid for with the blood of our friends and neighbors. Do not make their sacrifices be in vain. Remember the gifts of freedom you have been given and do all you can to ensure that future generations will enjoy these same freedoms.