It is not uncommon for people to ignore the pledge as though it is irrelevant, a static noise in their techno-driven, virtual reality.
Others take a more conscience approach to civil disobedience. During the nation’s anthem, Colin Kaepernick bends the knee, inspiring viral imitation.
In the wake of a divisive presidential election:
- Supporters shout, “Make America Great Again.”
- The hopeful whisper, Wait and see.”
- Dissenters shout “Not My President.”
Post inauguration, women in droves march on Washington and assemble around the nation to send a message of concern and solidarity to the 45th President of the USA.
Meanwhile the administration tweets their reality; while disparaging and blaming the press for reporting theirs.
We learn in grade school, that the United States of America was forged on a belief in certain unalienable rights, a charge to protect and defend its citizenry, and a democratic form of government by and for the people. Since 1791, freedom of speech and a free press have been core to the preservation of our unique form of government.
Though the Bill of Rights has not always been extended to all, and the Constitution in its infancy excluded many from protection, today these rights and protections belong to every US citizen. It is as important as ever to graciously extend them to and vigorously defend them for all regardless of race, socioeconomic status, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, politics or any other categorization that stands to divide us in our mutual humanity.
Agree to disagree if you will, but suspend the vitriol on all sides and recognize that each of us has a right to say what we think, to disagree with our government, to stand up and protest.
Dissenters by definition do not represent the popular view, but that does not make them wrong.
- The colonists dissented against British rule.
- Abolitionists dissented against the practice of slavery.
- Civil rights activists dissented against segregation and racial discrimination.
- Pacifists dissented against the Vietnam War.
Do not be fooled by voices that seek to demonize the free press and the power of free speech. History reminds us all too often that “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Today I celebrate dissenters and the right to dissent. It is as American as baseball and apple pie.
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the point at which . . . the end learns to justify the means.” Lord Acton in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887