Friday, December 26, 2008

Give Me Liberty...

I was reminded of the Quote that Patrick Henry said "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" And began to ponder on what exactly is Liberty.

Now, such a word obviously has multiple interpretations, not to mention how many things have the word liberty in their title.

What I found was this: Liberty is the

  • Freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control

  • Freedom from external or foreign rule; independence

  • Freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc.; according to choice

  • Freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint.

I also looked at our family dictionary (Websters circa 1968) and it states: Freedom or release from slavery, imprisonment, captivity, or any other form of arbitrary control.

So, back to Patrick Henry's quote. One can assume that he was referring to freedom from oppression by the English Monarchy. But, it begs the question, "How does the unalienable, God given right to Liberty apply to today's political climate?"

With "Big Brother" looking over our shoulders at all times, how is Liberty maintained? Our Government has been set up to monitor our lives down to the littlest details. We can't drive down the street without a policeman running our plates to see if they have a reason to pull us over. We can't say "One Nation, Under God..." in the pledge of allegiance because it might offend a minority. How is that protecting the Liberty of those that want to say "Under God"?

Liberty is an all encompassing thought that governs our daily life. Without Liberty, we are no longer America, land of the Free. The Bill of Rights is a list that attempts to define some of our Liberties that cannot be taken away. The Founders did not attempt to write all of our unalienable Liberties down because the felt that it was understood by all at the time what was meant. Now, learned men attempt to twist and corrupt the meaning of those few articles of Liberties prescribed by our Founding Fathers into a way to manipulate and control the people.

Liberty is something that can only be taken away if you commit a capitol crime. Otherwise, we all have the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution and it's Bill of Rights found therein. Liberty is what this great country was founded upon. Liberty is what our Founding Fathers fought for. Liberty is what our ancestors died for. Liberty is what we are losing in today's political climate.

Do you feel that the government is acting in accordance with the basic Liberties of the very citizens it's sworn to protect? Are our politicians fighting for out Civil Liberties in Congress? If Liberty is unalienable, how are we as citizens protecting it from the government?

I'm reminded of a quote a friend uses "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees!"

"Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Cost of the Loss of Rights

Recently I read an article on the ACLU site that talked about One in Every Thirty-One Adults having a criminal record. They quoted the report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) which, to give you the gist, states that numbers are up for people on parole/probation.

I bring this to your attention to illustrate a simple idea that occurred to me. If you took the 7.8 million offenders that the report talks about, and gave them the ability to be productive members to society, what would the influx of tax monies entail? Think on it this way; if you took each offender and multiplied it by an imaginary number of $10,000 (roughly the taxes to be paid by someone making $50,000), what would you get? Roughly 78 BILLION dollars. Now, if we had received the taxes on theses people in this amount for the last 10 years, would we have needed a Federal Bailout?

But, with the criminal record and the loss of rights that each offender has received as part of their sentencing, they lose the ability to become productive members to society.

Now, some offenders are unable to control themselves and recidivate. Those will be perpetually in the system. But, those offenders who learned their lesson, and have tried to return to society to gain employment have found it difficult to get jobs because of their record and our publics perception.

Recently I learned of a program that helps offenders get back on their feet. In the manual for that program, I learned that persons with Criminal Records and are on welfare, make up 46% of the welfare population. This program is designed to help overcome the "barriers" these offenders have in getting employment and getting off of welfare.

If the public perception wasn't so strong against those that have criminal records, they might have an easier time at getting work. Then, they would be able to contribute to society. And a lot of them would make more than $50,000 in a year. Some would make upwards of six figures.

So, with such a sizeable chunk of our population unable to gain meaningful employment, and unable to pay their potential in tax revenue, our Country is continually losing out on some serious revenue potential.

Do you think that offenders who have learned their lesson and are trying to reintegrate with society should be segregated from the other potential candidates for employment? If an ex-offender has the potential to contribute to society more than they currently are, shouldn't the door be opened for them? If 1 in 31 has a criminal record, and has lost their rights, wouldn't voting on new laws be skewed from their true potential?

Is ostracism effective?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Complacency: The Freedom Killer (Part 3)

"The greatest obstacle to those who hope to reform American education is complacency."

---Diane Ravitch

Complacency has the ability to lull us into thinking that everything is OK. It provides a sense of false security. A security which, if unchecked, has the potential to rob us of our very foundation as a country.

In our effort to understand this vicious and quiet disease that is plaguing America, we have learned that not only does it teach us ignorance as Citizens, but that we also can potentially lose our ability to fight back.

In this final segment, we are going to discuss how the loss of our ability to fight back and our ignorance leads to us losing our Rights.

There is another quote that I've been meaning to share:

"You need to have a redesign because familiarity breeds a kind of complacency."

---Timothy White

In the "Civil Rights" Movement, we all became accustomed to hearing about Civil Rights. Some, even to the point of rolling their eyes. We all became "familiar" with the concept. Now, we are complacent to the idea of reformation in the area of Civil Rights.

The familiarity is where the ignorance comes from. In our familiarity, we stop caring enough to pay attention. While we are not paying attention, we quietly and slowly lose our ability to fight back. Laws are passed and judgements are made in Court that slowly and silently remove our ability to say "No!"

The intent of the article is to bring to attention the dangers of allowing ourselves to become complacent with anything in our lives, let alone becoming complacent with our Civil Rights.

Do your research, study up on what's going on around you. Become active. It's the only way for things to turn around. I cannot remember where I heard it before, but it's been said that "The only way for Evil to win is for enough good people to do nothing."

Don't be one of those that stood by and did nothing only to kick yourself later in life for failure to act. Complacency is (in my opinion) the leading cause of the failure in our Legislative Branch to create new and better laws. We see many many laws being passed that waste money, create hardships for citizens, and set precedence for future equally absurd laws.

Are you willing to continue to let this happen? Are you willing to stand up for no one else but yourself? Does the direction of the country worry you? Do you feel that things are being handled the way you think they should? Do you realise that a phone call to your local Senator makes a HUGE difference?

Complacency creates danger in all of our lives.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Complacency: The Freedom Killer (Part 2)

"I hate to see complacency prevail in our lives when it's so directly contrary to the teaching of Christ."
---Jimmy Carter

The United States of America was founded on the principles of Christianity. Some may not be Christians or even believe in God. But the truth is, all men were created equal. In that equality, we all have a certain set of "inalienable" or "natural" rights. These "natural" rights come directly from God.

These natural rights have never been put into a complete list. Simply because it was presumed at the time of the Constitution that people knew what these rights were. For the sake of trying to prevent the Government they were trying to establish, the founding fathers put a few on paper.

This is known as the Bill of Rights.

The first 10 listed in the Bill of Rights are a pretty straight forward and simple list. What many people may not know, is that there is a bigger list of substantive rights. These substantive rights are the extension of the basic rights listed. For example, Freedom of Speech gives us the right to say what we want, when we want it. What people may not realise is that they also, under freedom of speech, have the right to: freedom to assemble, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to petition. All of the minute and infinite rights that are protected under those are considered to be substantive.

These substantive rights are vitally important to the continued success of the American people and the "dream" that is America. For example, imagine the loss of the right to petition. We would no longer have the right to gather signatures for important matters. This would effectively stop the citizens from helping to create legislation. Imagine the havoc that would create and the doors it would open for the Government to bring in a different style of government.

So, in understanding that we have a need to fight for our rights and to protect them. Even if it means that a law that "feels good" or looks good on paper needs to not be passed, it's the greater good of protecting our rights that is more important.

Complacency breeds a need for bigger government, more "security", and allows us to turn on our fellow men.

Complacency by the people will be the downfall of this great nation.

Do not let complacency rule your life. Can you imagine what will happen if you keep on with the same things you are doing? Can you imagine what will happen if you don't stand up for your rights?

It reminds me of a poem I know of:

When the Nazis came for the communists,

I remained silent;I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,

I remained silent;I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,

I did not speak out;I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,

I remained silent;I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out...

Are you going to allow this to happen to you?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Complacency: The Freedom Killer (Part1)

"I have absolutely no idea what my generation did to enrich our democracy. We dropped the ball. We entered a period of complacency and closed our eyes to the public corruption of our democracy."

---Wynton Marsalis

Many an author has written about the disgraceful state of mind called Complacency. Few have managed to stir people to action. We all aspire to create a burning need in the hearts of Man to get up and do something to change their world.

The more I read on personal development, the more that I learn that change always, and only, begins inside of one's self. Leo Tolstoy says "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

To understand complacency, we need to only examine the pace of our lives. Most people spend their time pretty much the same way. Few people actually strive to grow as individuals. Most are too busy trying to stay afloat in life to move forward personally. That, believe it or not, is stagnation. Also known as Complacency. They are complacent with their lives, how they live their lives, their surroundings, and where they are headed overall. The problem with that is that if one only thinks about today and how you are doing, you'll never see the speed bumps of tomorrow.

Complacency programs our brains into accepting that the dreams and goals that we sought after while we were children are unreachable. Or that we lack the power within ourselves to change and become the person that we always dreamed of.

How does complacency affect you? Think of it this way. If the Constitution is slowly and quietly being taken out of our country, and you are OK with how things are today, you'll never recognize the danger that lurks around the corner as our liberties are slowly eaten up.

As our liberties are taken away, you might think "It's not that bad" or "It sucks to be that guy" when you see him affected by the loss of liberty. But what you fail to realise is that as one right is effectively taken away, it sets us up to lose more.

"The only way for Evil to prevail is for enough Good people to do nothing" is a quote that I've heard many times. The more we think that this won't happen to us, or that it's the other guys problem and not mine, we lose our ability to stand up and say "That's not right!"

If we stay complacent, and do nothing, then nothing changes. Have you ever heard the saying "Nothing changes if nothing changes"? If you don't change, then the way the world is headed will not change.

Complacency will kill our ability to fight for our Freedom's granted by the Constitution of the United States of America. There is a sentence I recently found in the book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that I'd like to share with you. It's found on page 60 and 61, "Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal."

So I humbly ask, Open your Gate. Let the change begin in your heart. In John C. Maxwell's book Thinking For a Change, he has a quote in there that states, "A belief is not just an idea that you possess; it is an idea that possesses you." Believe that you can make a change in your own life. Believe that you have the voice to stand up and be heard. Believe that through small changes in ourselves, big changes in our world can happen.

Fight for your Freedoms before they are all gone. Don't let the hubbub of life keep you stuck in the "rut". Stand up and be heard. Take complacency out of your life and replace it with belief and purpose.