Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fourth of July Postscript

My latest letter to the editor didn't get published, so I'm posting it here for you to peruse at your leisure:

For most of us, the fourth of July means a day off work, a barbeque or a picnic, fireworks at night. We may feel some pride or gratitude for living in a free and prosperous country, but like most holidays, the celebration of the day has overtaken the meaning of it.

This year, with our constitutional and civil rights threatened by all three branches of the federal government, let’s take some time to practice the independence that we are celebrating.

* Read the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. These are the principles on which this country was founded.
* Write or call your elected officials. We can only be a government of the people, by the people if the people are participating.
* Contact an advocacy organization that interests you and get involved. Sign a petition. Write a letter to the editor. Attend a rally. The more you exercise your First Amendment rights, the stronger those rights will be.
* Read a controversial or banned book, preferably one borrowed from the public library. Free access to knowledge and ideas is essential for a healthy democracy.
* Watch an independent film, go to an art exhibit, attend the community theater, or listen to local musicians. Two hallmarks of free expression are that it is diverse and it is open to everyone.
* Learn more about threats to our constitutional and civil rights. The Web sites of the American Library Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Common Dreams are a good place to start.
* Visit the Web sites of Amnesty International, the American Friends Service Committee, or international aid organizations. Every day, people are subjected to violence and imprisonment for seeking the very freedoms we take for granted.

Then, having done your part to fight for our ongoing independence, have a barbeque and enjoy the fireworks.


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