Happy 237th birthday. It has become apparent over the last several decades, particularly within the last two, that, at the hands of those in power, you were creeping upon a mid-life crisis. It seems that it is in full-swing at this point. Instead of buying an expensive car and getting a divorce to shack up with or marry a younger woman, those (predominately white middle and upper-class heterosexual men who are over the age of 55) in power have thwarted the very definition under which you were founded and exist.
Just over eleven years ago, “We the People” allowed for fear to overrun our desire for and constitutional right to Freedom in lieu of the passing of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001). The sections within this piece of legislation permit the suspension of citizens’ rights guaranteed in the US Constitution (this page takes the text of the Constitution side by side with the text of the US PATRIOT Act for those portions that violate Constitutional rights). History will eventually show just how unAmerican this document is. Yet it is still in existence as we fight a “faceless” enemy, a concept: “(non-domestic) terror”.
Despite the (minimal) fanfare in the press that attempted to educate the populace about the contents of the USA PATRIOT Act prior to its enactment and shortly following it, it still remains law and is being utilized to tap into phone records and likely all the other records that this act permits tapping into (including your bank records).
I had a conversation this morning and the other person and I were reflecting on it being Independence Day. We are both disappointed and frustrated with where we are as a nation and discussed several possibilities of just what has gotten us into this position. Though it is far more complicated than what can be covered in about a 15-minute conversation, it does seem that at least two things stood out. 1) We have allowed fear to overcome our desire and natural-born right to freedom. 2) We have become so complacent and pacified by capitalism and consumerism that as long as we (society, particularly historically-priviledged society) can buy the “next big thing” or anything that makes us think we’re happy, we aren’t bothered by questioning the ways that our legal rights are being (have been) stripped away.
It’s funny (not ha-ha funny) just how much our country reminds me of the Capital and the world in the Districts as reflected in The Hunger Games series.
So, USA, I sure hope that “We the People” will take the intravenous dose of capitalism and consumerism out of our veins and make our voices heard. We should not allow for law to legislate our bodies (e.g. the current War on Women), limit rights that others can enjoy (e.g. a multi-state ban on same-sex marriage), or strip us of our constitutional rights (e.g. the US PATRIOT Act). We need to speak out and speak up and support others who do similarly. We need to become as loud in our collective voices and recognize that all oppression is intrinsically bound together. So long as one group of us is oppressed, none of us are truly free.
No, the Constitution and the way it was enacted is not perfect. The social circumstances during the time this country was founded were not perfect (e.g. patriarchy and slavery). However, the essential vision within the Declaration of Independence and all other “Charters of Freedom” are ideals that we can still aspire to and fight for. We need not be violent about it – we need only be loud and rally in numbers.
This is an urge – a plea – to write to your Congressional representatives (find your US legislators: House of Representatives and Senate). Visit their offices in DC and in their home state. Arm yourselves with wisdom and knowledge and let your voice be heard.
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
(A side-note, US Independence Day is my favorite holiday. I am a military brat and truly love our nation. It is with this fondness of my home that I question the way it is being run and the ways that our Constitutional rights and the founding documents under which the US was founded are being thwarted and obstructed. I do wonder if we should really be surprised, since, historically, the US has not been so good at keeping promises.)