Friday, April 27, 2007


Yesterday I attended a program hosted by a local university under the rubric “Democracy and Dissent”. Speakers included Rick Maxson, PhD, Associate Professor of Communications at Drury University in Springfield, MO, Col. Michael Meese, Head of the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Cindy Sheehan, Activist and Founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

A major point that Ms. Sheehan made was that the responsibility of a voter in a democracy does not end with selecting a candidate in the ballot booth, but is more vitally fulfilled by tracking the performance of that candidate and maintaining contact with him/her to protest or support actions between elections.

That led me to rummage through my old articles and come up with this one, written in December, 2005.


Those of us who have protested the Iraq war are often told that we do not understand that “freedom is not free”, but that’s not correct. We do know that the freedoms enjoyed by Americans were won at great cost. In fact, we feel that we are paying part of that price by waving a sign out there on the street corner.

Those who raise this issue should ask themselves exactly how those freedoms were won. It was not by marching lockstep with to the beat of a repressive government. It was through the refusal of citizens to accept the dictates of their government without question. The colonists rebelled against taxation without representation. I rebel against preemptive war without honest consideration of available intelligence. I rebel against a government that lies to its people in order to achieve its preconceived but unrevealed goals.

The price of freedom is not just the deaths of soldiers on foreign battlefields. It is the eternal attendance of the nation’s citizens to the affairs of their own government. The vigilance of the press used to be a great tool, but too much print and airtime are now given to the regurgitation of government issued press releases and photo-ops.

To preserve freedom, citizens must spend time and energy seeking to understand what’s behind political action. The true price of freedom is the effort it takes to learn enough to understand the motivation of leaders of either party whose true agenda is rarely shared with the people. A public aware enough to know that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was bogus would not have followed the Democrats into Viet Nam. A public aware enough to know that Iraq had no WMDs and was not involved in 9-11 would not have supported the invasion of that country, either.

I hear from more people afraid of gun control than from those afraid of the unauthorized wiretapping and the undocumented arrests allowed by the Patriot Act.

Take the time to separate the real threats from the boogiemen and we might find ourselves protecting America’s freedoms by refusing to follow flag waving, fear mongering, Bible thumping politicians to the polling place.

The true price of freedom is the effort it takes to be more informed than today’s press or politicians will make us. Now that more information is coming forth about the ways we have been misled and how our laws have been ignored by those leaders, we must take the time to consider that citizenship means more than selecting a party and supporting it no matter what. We must be vigilant, objective, and ruthless in running politicians with hidden agendas out of office. Without that vigilance our freedoms will surely be lost.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

Yours in Peace -- BR

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