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September 25, 2001

"I do not shrink from this responsibility, I welcome it."

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility, I welcome it."

-John F. Kennedy

I have always identified with that quote, and have very much embraced "the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger," but I have never felt the importance of that role to the extent that I have in the past week. If you've been watching the news, you know that Congress is considering all sorts of new legislation in response to the 9-11 attacks. You probably also know that much of what Congress is considering could have a negative impact on our remaining civil liberties.

You may or may not know that a huge coalition of non-profits and political organizations came together to urge Congress to be careful, and to guard our essential liberties as they attempt to legislate a solution to the "new" terrorist threat. You may or may not know that a number of other pro-freedom declarations and petitions have appeared to urge the same, and to urge restraint in the impending military response to the terrorists. I've been following this quite closely, and I have been pleasantly surprised to find how loud and effective the voice of freedom is in America. Normally, I wouldn't find it surprising at all—I am acutely aware that the forces of freedom in America are strong and getting stronger— but there was a short period of time when it really looked like Congress, with the backing of the polls, was going to run off and change all the rules in a series of quick moves. This scare was begun when the Senate (too quickly) passed an amendment expanding law enforcement powers to a dangerous level, just two days after the attacks, in a hurried nighttime vote.

Luckily, that huge coalition of political groups formed almost overnight, and issued a firm and resounding "SLOW DOWN!" call to Congress and the nation. They rightly garnered a decent amount of press coverage in doing so, and apparently their action, and other related outpourings of reaction , have been enough to shift the tide, and restore some deliberation and critical analysis into the discussions of new legislation. 

"Only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom..." Ours is one of those generations. JFK was talking about defending freedom in a different way than I am, but he was talking about the same freedom. It's the freedom we take for granted when we call this a "free country." The freedom by which we distinguish "the free world." It's the freedom of individuality and self-determination, the freedom of the pursuit of happiness. It's the freedom of privacy and security, and of knowing that you can do what you want as long as you don't hurt anybody— and nobody will interfere with your activities.

" its hour of maximum danger." Freedom is in danger, and in many ways, right now could be seen as its hour of maximum danger. There are enough freedoms on the bargaining table right now, that if the cards fall the wrong way, we could end up with a radically altered America, and a radically redefined conception of what "the free world" will mean in the future. It doesn't have to be that way, and hopefully it won't, but make no mistake, those are the cards on the table. Freedom itself is at stake right now, and we can either protect it and defend it, or we can be silent, and allow it to be taken away from us, and from future generations.

"I do not shrink from this responsibility, I welcome it." You may think that there's nothing worth fighting for, or that the "game" is fixed—that The Powers That Be are pulling all the strings, and all we can do is try to survive and raise good kids in spite of it all— but that is not the case. There is still very much about America that is worth saving, and the fight is on—right now. Your generation—our generation—has been granted the opportunity to defend freedom in its hour of maximum danger, and it is time to answer the call of battle. Don't let the warhawks and authoritarians intimidate you. Don't give in to the pressure of the polls and pundits. Be questioning, be provocative, be challenging. Make it hard for those who want to abridge freedoms, or who want to indiscriminately bomb other countries. Don't take this situation lying down. If you've ever wanted to stand up for something, here is a golden opportunity. You have the opportunity to defend freedom in its hour of maximum danger.

Don't shrink from that responsibility. Welcome it.

I have compiled a page of action items and readings to help you do your duty to your country, to your family, and yourself. Spend some time working for freedom this week. Spread the word, write a letter to the editor, call a talk show, and call your Congresspeople. Forward this article, or my freedom actions page, to your friends. Do something, and do it this week, and the next week. Keep it up until our freedoms, all of them, are safe and secure. If we work hard enough, we can make it happen—if not for our generation, then for the ones to come.

Posted by Lance Brown at September 25, 2001 10:45 PM | TrackBack

Oh Yeah!

Posted by: Darlene Loyd at December 19, 2002 08:47 PM
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