Monday, June 8, 2015

Freedom: What are you gonna do about it?

I have a two year old nephew. He has curly blond hair, big blue eyes, and a continual smile on his face. Every morning when he gets out of bed, usually around 8:30, and walks into the kitchen he can always count on finding a plate full of breakfast waiting for him. Still in his Olaf pajamas, he climbs onto his chair and spends the next half hour joyfully eating his hot breakfast. The rest of his day will consist of playing outside in his front yard, watching a Disney movie, reading a couple of books with his mom, coloring a picture of a dinosaur, and eating several more delicious meals.

Yet a toddler of the same age located halfway around the world has a completely different morning routine. He most likely spent the night sleeping on the floor, in the dirt. He has never heard of Olaf or pajamas. He sleeps in the only outfit he has, an over-sized shirt.His hair is matted, his eyes are sunken in, and he rarely gets breakfast. His day will consist of merely trying to survive.

What is the difference between these two boys? One was born in America and the other was not. What does it mean to be born in America? It means you enjoy freedoms that no other nation does. You have access to education, you can pursue any occupation you wish, you have the opportunity to make something of yourself. You are free to live your religion. You can own your own property. You can own firearms. You get to participate in local as well as national politics. You have been give opportunities that others will never have. And you are responsible for those freedoms. Those who think that we will always enjoy freedom without any effort are gravely mistaken. The life style produced by freedom will soon vanish if Americans do nothing to support and defend their freedoms. Freedom isn't something that exists on its own. It cannot exist on its own. Just like any other luxury it must be earned and preserved if we are to continue enjoying it.

All Americans are personally responsible for their freedom. Some Americans have been called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. The price that they individually and their families have paid is high. What is required of the rest of us pails in comparison. However, our participation is vital. Here are four tasks that every American should be taking very seriously.

1. VOTE!
Voter Turn out 1824-2008
Since the early 1900's voter turn out has dropped significantly. In the presidential election in 2008 only 71% of Americans eligible to vote were registered. Of those registered 63.6% voted. The following presidential election showed similar turnouts with 61.8% of registered voters who voted. The turnout is significantly less in a non-presidential year. For example, in 2010 only 45.5% of registered voters voted.  To sum it up Americans are terrible at voting.  Just when I thought it couldn't get worse I decided to look into why Americans don't vote. I found the following reasons.  It takes too much time. I don't know whats going on in the political world. I don't care about politics. What goes on in politics does not affect me. I don't have time to vote. My vote doesn't count. All politicians are corrupt....If you have thrown away your right to participate in the political process for these or any other lame reason please consider the following.

  • US Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president and then confirmed by the Senate. These judges serve for life. We currently have two judges appointed by president Reagan. They have been serving on the Supreme court since before I was born. The judges who serve on the court of appeals as well as all district judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Before you say that the judicial system has no direct affect on you think back to 2012 when the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. Before you say that district judges do not affect you think back the 26 States where a district judge over turned amendments, supported  by voters, and made same sex marriage legal. The president may only serve for a maximum of 8 years but his judicial appointments will serve for a lifetime. 
  • To those voters who choose to only vote in presidential elections, remember we have a checks and balance system. Congress supported the Affordable Care Act. A decision that has affected every American.
  • Bills originate within in Congress a.k.a your US Senators and US Representative have a direct affect on you and your family. 
  • James Madison said the following "If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these [elected] men. so that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them."
If you choose not to vote you are sending the message that you do not care about Americas future.

2. Be informed about current events.
Understanding current events is essential if you want to be an informed voter. I am not saying you have to be an expert on all American affairs both international and domestic. But you should be as informed as possible. Here are some easy ways to stay informed.

  • Read the news! This one is easy especially in our day and age. Download  a couple of news apps, real news not the tabloids, and then read them daily. This is probably the best way to stay informed on a national level. Depending on how big or small of a town you live in you may even be able to get a app for local news. If you can't then just do it the old fashion way and read the local newspaper. Staying informed on a local level is just as important as on a national level. 
  • Attend town halls, city council meetings, and other board meetings. These kinds of meeting are open to the public. It is good to know what issues your city council are dealing with, what changes they are considering, and problems your local community is facing. Often when a city is considering a big change they will hold a town hall meeting and invite all the community to voice their opinion. Attend these meetings, know what is going on in your community, and participate as much as possible. 

3. Educate yourself about our nations history.
This should be the life long goal of every American citizen. You could study our history for a life time and still find that you do not know it all. Understanding the principles that our nation was founded up is essential if we want to continue to prosper as a nation. Our Constitution has survived longer than any other Constitution in history. We can reasonably say that the principles upon which it was founded are just and that they have created a form of government under which the people can prosper. That kind of track record is one worth studying.

4. Make a stand.
Finally, decide that you stand for freedom. Unfortunately our  society has labeled those who are passionate about their country as radicals. If  you oppose same sex marriage you are a radical. If you support the right to bear arms you are a radical. If you mention God in public or believe in public prayer you are a radical. If you don't support government hand outs you are a radical.....I have never cared for labels. I care far more about my freedom than public opinion. Stand for what is rightfully  yours.

The comparison that I made earlier between the two little boys may have seemed extreme. However, that is the reality in many places around the world. It is also a reality that the life that my nephew enjoys here in America is not guaranteed to the next generation. Our generation will have to be active participators if we are to continue to enjoy our current lifestyle.

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