With Liberty and Justice for All

Today is the Fourth of July, 2012: Independence Day.

I shy away from discussions about politics because, in my experience, if the other person doesn’t agree with you, no matter what you say, you will be tuned out. Each of us has our opinion about what is “right,” and often we won’t allow facts to get in the way with what we know to be right.

So this entry isn’t about politics: it’s about hearing and listening, which are two different exercises. I can hear the noises on the street, but unless I am listening, I won’t hear the footsteps coming up behind me.

I think we’ve become a nation of hearers; I think we’ve stopped listening to each other. Maybe that’s easier in a nation of almost 314million souls — we can’t possibly listen to each other all the time, but who are we as a nation, today?

What I see is a nation of amazing history and equally awesome potential.

314 million people, linked together by one fact: we live in a nation where there is a peaceful transfer of executive power every four years, or eight at the maximum. What this means is that nothing is forever, and the powers of the executive branch are checked by the legislative and judicial branches, so that no one branch has total and absolute control.

This is really amazing stuff.

A hundred years ago women couldn’t vote; there were no supermarkets and no beer and liquor sales in the supermarkets; Jim Crow laws were in full effect; and child labor was still acceptable.

Times changed. We changed.

We are a nation founded on change. All of our ancestors who emigrated to these shores did so because they wanted a change from what they had to what they could have. No one promised them it would be easy. Our national identity was built on the bones of their dreams of being who they wanted to be in this country: free and in control of their own lives.

Remember the last line, then, of the Pledge of Allegiance: “…With liberty and justice for all.” There’s no asterisk there. It doesn’t say “all, except for those who don’t agree with me, are of a different religion or sexual orientation.”

It simply says all.

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2 thoughts on “With Liberty and Justice for All

  1. too many people think it’s “all except those who don’t believe in God (or in a different God) ”
    like your article and your picture.

  2. Hearing is about perception, listening is about meaning. Omnipresent electronic communication has exacerbated this, as we all think we are in relationships just because we can tweet, txt, blog (yes), facebook and countless other things that don’t actually require looking in someone’s eyes and listening not only to their words but to their expressions, and their soul.

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