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Liberty and Justice For All: A Moment With Bill Reflection
THESE ARE DIVIDED TIMES
Truly, I have never seen anything like it. In sixty-four years I have never seen this kind of division in the United States. Possibly during Vietnam for there was certainly no shortage of vitriol then, but most definitely not since then.
There is no compromise. There is no apparent desire to compromise. It’s my way or the highway in America today, and amazingly the disagreement isn’t focused on just one issue. From gun control to immigration, from health care to tax cuts, the disagreements cross the entire political and economic spectrum.
It is one thing to disagree, but what has really shaken me is the degree of viciousness in the statements used to attack the other side of any debate. When did we lose our ability to disagree respectfully? When did we start to consider any disagreement as an attack on our liberties?
I do not agree with the NRA but I do not hate its members nor do I think they are ignorant. I do not hate Republicans nor do I think they are all misguided rich kids with too many toys. I believe they are Americans and Patriots who have another way of looking at things, and I would like nothing more than to sit down and have a civil discussion about finding a compromise that will benefit most citizens in this country.
So my goal, I guess, is to find something that we can agree on. If we can just find a starting point then maybe we can move forward and actually solve problems rather than creating more through disagreement. Compromise has been at the root of our political system since the 1700’s. It is, in fact, the backbone of our democracy, and I think it is high time we learn from our forefathers and revive that lost art.
The Complete Draft of the Declaration of Independence
- The Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence. The text, different drafts, signers, Thomas Jefferson's account, and more.
LET’S START WITH THIS TOPIC
The Declaration of Independence lists three rights that all citizens of this country are guaranteed, namely Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. There is our starting point for this discussion, that every single man, woman and child, as citizens of the United States, is entitled to those rights. Are we in agreement so far? In truth, it could be argued that every citizen of the world is entitled to those same rights, but obviously there are some countries who would not agree with that, so let’s confine our discussion to just the United States.
Life….you have a right to live in this country. Liberty….you have a right to be free in this country. Pursuit of Happiness….you have a right to seek happiness in this country.
The litmus test for all freedoms in the United States seems to be that as long as you do not cause harm to another person, your rights are inalienable, meaning they cannot be taken away from you.
Are we still in agreement? I think we are, and that is good, but as we go a little further we start seeing disagreement.
A chat about acceptance
WHERE THE WATERS MUDDY
Being a citizen of the United States is not an easy gig. It requires a rather large amount of fortitude, because the rights that I claim as basic for me are the same rights claimed by over 300 million people, meaning what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If I believe that I have Freedom of Speech then I must believe it to be true for all others. I am not required to enjoy what I hear from others, but I am required to allow them to speak, and that’s where the fortitude enters the picture.
I have to stand by and allow hate groups to spew forth their dark message. I have to stand by and allow activist groups to spread their message even though their message turns my stomach, because the minute I decide that my right of free speech is more important than anyone else’s right, then this country begins to lose all of its freedoms.
So we see, daily, examples of these muddied waters. Gun advocates go toe to toe with gun control advocates. Pro-lifers go head to head with Free Choicers, and feelings run so high that compromise simply will not happen. Instead of a small chunk of the pie for everyone, we have groups fighting over the whole pie and consequently nothing is accomplished.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How do those rights apply to the millions of homeless in this country. In many cases, there are those who are homeless through no direct fault of their own. As the government makes trade decisions, and as companies make business decisions, some jobs have been lost and the result is more and more hard-working citizens on the streets scrounging for a meal and a place to sleep. Do they still enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Do young girls, sold into the sex trafficking business, still enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? How about Veterans who cannot get medical attention and benefits? Do they enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Can we all, at the very least, find agreement that a fourteen year old child, kidnapped and working in a brothel in downtown New York, should be helped? Can we all agree that Veterans promised services should not have to live under freeway overpasses? Can we all meet at the table of agreement and say that a citizen who has worked for forty years and never caused a moment of trouble should not die on the streets because of a lack of medical coverage?
Are you willing to compromise?
FINDING COMMON GROUND
Are we in agreement yet? Is there anyone who can argue that sex trafficking is a good thing? Of course not, unless you are one of the depraved who preys on the young and weak.
So we find common ground and we move forward. I doubt we will ever see agreement over gun control. I doubt we will ever see abortion agreement or complete defense spending agreement, but for the love of God, we can certainly find agreement that every citizen of this nation should be free and safe, can’t we?
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”
George Washington Carver
Humanity One World
MY PERSONAL GOAL
A few months ago I had one of those personal epiphanies that come to each of us from time to time. I realized the change must start with me. If I’m going to spout off about all that is wrong in this country, then I must be willing to walk the talk and do my part to see that change occurs.
Thus began H.O.W., or Humanity One World. I am determined during my remaining years to keep speaking out about how we can make this world a better place for all citizens. I am convinced that every single act of kindness will cause a ripple of kindness that spreads outward and grows in size.
We are so much alike, you and I. Why can’t we use that basic fact and find common ground? I do not care how you feel about the political issues of our times. I do not care if you are black or white, yellow or brown. I do not care about your religious beliefs and I do not care how much money you make. All I care about is if you believe in those seven simple words….life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…because if you do then we can find common ground.
Will you work with me? Will you spread ripples of kindness and will you help me break down barriers that should never have been erected?
I believe in Humanity One World and by extension I believe in you. Help me….we can make a difference. Never underestimate the power of a small group of determined people.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)