The International Writers Magazine: Free Speech - Free Country
are perhaps no sins in America today greater than those of silence,
ignorance and complacency. These sins are compounded by the context
in which they are committed. The freedom of speech infused into
our culture is in immediate danger of atrophy from lack of use.
the last decade we have witnessed atrocity after unspeakable atrocity;
the Columbine High School shooting, the Oklahoma City bombing, the fall
of the twin towers and a president who misled his people into a war
and who is unrepentant about doing so. Yet far too many Americans remain
silent. The voice of the people must be used viciously, savagely, and
it must be made to be heard. We have to use the rights we have while
we still have them, not only to preserve them, but also to remind ourselves
why they are there.
The freedom to make yourself heard is one of our most basic and cherished
ideals; failure to use it is tantamount to being anti-American. Not
that I enjoy listening to people blather on in righteous political outrage.
On the contrary, I find most of what I read and hear to be uninformed
and not worth heeding. Some, but not all, so I encourage it. Why? Because
its necessary; we have to put up with the garbage to get the gems.
The long term effects of disuse are/will be disastrous to the spirit
of Americas foundation. The only possible outcome of ignoring
our right to a voice is that it will be lost, and will have to be won
all over again. If history is any indicator, such a struggle would be
bloody and unpleasant; just ask Louis XVI, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
or Anne Frank. America is alive with the written and spoken word, but
it must be much more so if our freedom is to endure. When you consider
the prices that so many have paid to give us what we have, the sin of
silence appears all the more obscene.
The sin of ignorance is in and of itself an abomination, which has been
embraced by so many Americans that it has decimated our culture and
shamed us globally. It is important to note the difference between uninformed
and ignorant. "Ignorant" implies an intentional unawareness,
as in willingly ignoring a fact, whereas "uninformed" simply
means not possessing specific knowledge. In a country with a literacy
rate of 97%, there is no excuse for this sin. In a society where information
is more plentiful and readily available than at any other time in recorded
history, there is no excuse for ignorance. Everything you ever wanted
to know and much, much more is out there waiting to be found.
Complacency feeds off of silence and ignorance. It begins when you place
too much faith in the leaders. It fills them with a false sense of self
importance when they assume the power we give them. We sin in complacency
when we arbitrarily choose our leaders. True, the choices are often
a decision between the lesser of two evils, but though there may not
be anyone worth voting for, there is always someone to vote against.
The government of this country belongs to us. Not just to George W.
Bush or Dick Cheney, or to any one person more than another. The people
need to remind their leaders of this.
"...what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers
are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
I have been as guilty of these sins as anyone, but our absolution lies
in taking back what is ours. It is attainable by simply taking responsibility
for the political authority you exercise when you vote. Forgiveness
is in the libraries and coffee houses and on uncensored airwaves all
around us. The price for it is that we must expend the effort to attain
it, and this cost seems negligible when compared with the wages of these
sins. We have the freedom for now. It has already been purchased with
the blood of patriots, and our failure to live up to their sacrifices
is a slap in the face of their memories. The peoples America must
be tempered with reason, rationality and wisdom. We have to arm ourselves
with the facts and fight no less valorously than those who have come
before; we owe it to them and to ourselves and to those who will follow.
© Brodie Parker March 2004
all rights reserved