Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's the Thought That Counts

I woke up a little groggy this morning and as I was walking to the shower trying to avoid walking into walls in the dark, a thought worked its way into my still sleeping brain. This thought had to do with my wonderment and anger at so many people in the US, conservative and liberals alike, who are so willing to "give up a little liberty in exchange for a little security." I agree with Franklin that such people deserve neither, but what would account for otherwise intelligent people willing to do such a thing?

Maybe it's the season, when the old saying I used to title this post is used so often. But my thought was that Americans who have rolled over to BushCo. in giving up such fundamental (in the truest sense) rights such as freedom of speech and habeas corpus have lost sight of what it is that we are supposed to be protecting when we talk of saving America.

While in the very narrowest of meanings, "America" is a place, I believe that America is best represented by what all elected government employees and soldiers refer to in their oaths of office:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of [President, Senator, etc.], and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
But where so many of us have gone wrong is to think of the United States more as a place than as an idea - or perhaps even an ideal. Phrases such as "Homeland" betray this wayward thinking, betrays the oath above, betrays what it means to be an American. Such thinking makes it all the easier to pass laws that abridge the freedoms so many before us had fought and died to procure; to throw them away without much thought at all. Consider how little outrage there has been in regards to the unconstitutionality of so many provisions of the so-called Patriot Act.

We have fundamentally forgotten - perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of lack of education and knowledge (when was the last time you heard of a Civics course in our public schools?), perhaps out of sheer laziness - what it is that makes us, what makes America, different from any other country in the world, indeed any other country or kingdom in history.

It really is the thought that counts.

You should think about it.

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