Today is Independence Day in the United States of America, and I believe this post rings true today as it did when I first wrote it. Some may argue by saying, “But they…” and I will listen to each and every argument as it is your right to debate an issue, as long as it is true exchange of ideas and is not an excuse for hate mongering. I still believe in our Constitution and will defend your rights even if your belief in it differs from mine, and truly hope one day we can remember the true meaning of E Pluribus Unum, and what our forefathers were fighting against. (End of Update)
I originally did this post as a guest for Tanya Contois with All Things Books. Since then I’ve received several comments in favor of what I wrote and, while I’m thankful I didn’t get hate mail, it has made me wonder just how far we have gotten from the basics. Please read and feel free to let me know what you think as well!
Here is the link to the original posting if you’d like to swing by and look around as well: http://speedyreader-allthingsbooks.blogspot.com/2012/02/guest-post-by-janice-grove-author-of.html
Posted by Tanya at 6:31 AM Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I want to thank Tanya for being such a generous host and allowing me to be a guest blogger today. When she told me I could write about whatever I wanted I thought, “Oh, boy!” and came very close to talk about my books, my characters or even my fly by the seat of my pants method of writing. However, something has been occurring lately that struck a chord within me so strongly, I knew had to be written.
Awhile back a friend and I met for coffee and to take a couple of hours to catch up. Being a writer herself it was nice to compare notes about the publishing industry as well as life itself and just unwind with someone who understands the craziness that sometimes overruns the mind. It was during this little get together that I said something that I think surprised both of us, “We as writers and artists are a reflection of life around us.” I don’t think it was the actual words that took us off guard, but the thought that we don’t really think about it as we’re doing it. Which leads me to wonder what we will see in the upcoming months and years as our current affairs are unfolding.
The past several months have shown a leap in many things; political awareness, technological advances, and the increase of people demanding their rights be acknowledged. Normally, I think we’d just overlook many of these things and hope it all worked out for the best, but right now, it’s a bit different, this time it’s an election year and everything is a potential hot button leading many to take a more personal slant on things to get their point across. Now don’t get me wrong, in America we have a great thing called the Constitution that guarantees our rights as free people and many of those rights are freedom of speech, religion and the press, and I welcome anyone to exercise those rights. However, the one right that I have yet to hear anyone declaring, that would stop a lot of the hate mongering going on, is the Ninth Amendment.
Our forefathers were brilliant men who believed that we the people were intelligent beings who could and had the right to govern ourselves and instated certain rules, laws and guidelines to ensure that those rights were guaranteed. That means that I can read and write whatever I like without fear of persecution as long as there is no threat to another person. It means that I can assemble with likeminded people and either discuss, debate or protest an issue as long as it’s in a peaceful manner. I can be atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or even Pagan, and practice that faith, religion, or even no religion without fear of death or arrest. There are so many other things guaranteed in this document to allow our citizens to express, and govern our activities according to our own values – we can even change a law should it be deemed necessary. Isn’t that wonderful? I think so! So can someone please explain to me how out of the whole document, it’s becoming increasingly frequent that the First Amendment is being used to harm others who are protected under the same right?
Yes, every citizen has the right to express themselves, to worship how they see fit, to assemble peacefully and have their press unfettered by government or other type of interference. However, as I mentioned, lately the Ninth Amendment has been completely ignored.
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
I love the Ninth Amendment! This means that while I’m protected to say what I want, to worship how I’d like and to even get together with whomever I choose, I can only do so as long as I do not interfere, threaten, or disparage someone else’s rights at the same time. While I can speak out about my disagreement with a person or group about their beliefs in either religion or politics, I cannot do so in a manner that will incite hatred and or violence upon that group or individual. Don’t believe me? Read the Ninth Amendment again. Now, look around. Now, really look and listen to what is going on around us. We have people hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to spew hatred in comments to news articles. I’ve listened to supposed leaders insult other countries due to their religious beliefs while claiming evidence of wrongdoing of a few to condemn the whole. Issues that should be debated respectfully have become flashpoints of slander, hatred and yes… persecution of our own citizens. It’s shameful! I’m more ashamed however that we as citizens have allowed and even encouraged it to happen.
What will our future generations think of us when they look back during this time. Remember, we used to think that the world was flat and the sun revolved around the earth, and to say otherwise was punishable by imprisonment and even death. Our own history shows that we “proved” certain races to be inferior and that sparked prejudice and unthinkable actions, that we even now cannot fathom why we allowed such things to happen. What we see as right and just now can just as well be proven faulty and biased thinking later. So instead of screaming about the violation of our rights while denying others of theirs, how about we all encourage each other to remember that we are small pieces of a whole and that we all are equal and deserving of respect and consideration. One of my all-time favorite quotes isn’t from a book, it’s from the movie The American President by the character President Andrew Shepherd:
“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.”
That is our right, that is our price for freedom and that is something I am proud to encourage.