OPINION – I have often wondered if my voice matters.
With the passing of Obama’s executive orders that strip us of our rights in times of peace and with Congress passing bills such as the NDAA or Detainee Bill (March 2012), why are we not angry? Why are we not shouting outrage from the rooftops?
As American citizens, we can exercise our First Amendment rights to speak out or protest what is happening. Are we taking advantage of these rights or passively sitting by, waiting for someone else to make the changes we desire?
The First Amendment gives us the rights to practice the religion of our choosing, to speak freely against the government without interference, to gather in public together, print materials or even protest in a nonviolent way.
What power we have.
Yet we hardly even show up to vote. Do we feel defeated? Do we feel that our individual voice will not make a difference? We have busy lives. We work, raise families and enjoy hobbies. But what are we doing to ensure and maintain our freedom? It’s ironic that we are so busy working for the pursuit of happiness that we fail to realize our core happiness is afforded to us by our rights and freedoms. Maybe we should give it more of our time and devotion.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks used their First Amendment rights to change civil liberties and draw attention to human rights. Maybe the majority of us will not find our names added to the history books, but we too can make our dent in the universe.
Bridget Mergens wanted to start a small after-school Bible club at her high school. Her principal told her she could not. Bridget challenged authority and the case – Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990) – went all the way to the Supreme Court. The resulting decision made it possible for a voluntary non-curriculuum related club, such as a religously oriented one, to meet at a public school.
Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, changed the face of political activism and human rights when she refused to give up her seat to a white person when she was riding on a bus and the bus driver ordered her to do so.
Cesar Chavez, a migrant worker, fought for union rights that supported fair compensation and working conditions for migrant workers.
None of these had a larger megaphone than the rest of us. None had endless resources of money and time. They simply spoke out.
Tremendous change starts with one person.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” Nelson Mandela said. “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
There are over 300 million American citizens. There are only 535 members of Congress that govern this nation and make the laws. Our politicians are definitely outnumbered. We have more power than we realize to create change.
Many people have thrown their hands up and have accepted defeat, as though we must adapt to laws or changes that threaten our free society. We believe we cannot fight the government “machine,” that we cannot stand up to Big Brother.
But we can.
As long as we have free speech, we can inspire change. Many have fought for, died and sacrificed to uphold these rights. Is it not our duty as citizens to continuously fight for our rights? Our Congress needs true patriots. We have a duty to vote and ensure that those that lead our nation are true freedom fighters. An overhaul is in order.
At the very least, it is worth 15 minutes of our time to enter a voting booth.
Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.