For many, this is the only reason we eat correctly, watch our weight, keep up on routine healthcare. . .So we don’t have to deal with the consequences.
They keep us in line. Create boundaries we know are safe.
So that when we cross them we can’t say,
“I didn’t know what would happen.”
It’s the same concept for laws.
We not only abide by them because we know they keep us, our property, and our community safe but because we know that if we don’t there will be chaos and anarchy.
In a civil society,
You have to be willing to lose.
You have to be willing to admit when you’re wrong.
You have to be willing to acknowledge others have reasonable views.
You have to be willing to accept “We the people,” means all the people.
A civil society depends on good will and men and women of good faith working together.
Democracy is predicated on the premise that the rule of the law works for every one equally. It is a covenant that binds us all. And as such we know it will protect us and all we hold dear because it protects others.
Laws aren’t perfect. They are created by people. In a democratic society, based on the desire to be “a more perfect Union” they evolve, adapt and embrace change. But change is never easy. It often drives some to anger and worse, violence. For those with the lion’s share of the wealth, comforts and privilege, they see it as diminishing their portion not expanding the pot.
That’s when fear takes over. Fear in the aftermath you’ll have less. Less money, power, and opportunity. And fear is a powerful motivator.
JFK gave a speech, when there was violence and anger over integrating our schools, making it clear,
“Our nation is founded on the principle that observance of the law is the eternal safeguard of liberty and defiance of the law the surest road to tyranny.
If the rule of law collapses then no judge can be sure of his writ.
And no neighbor can be sure of his safety.”
It’s hard to believe there was a time when the law allowed for separate but equal. It started in the late 1800’s as the former Confederate states adopted laws collectively known as Jim Crow laws that mandated the separation of whites and people of color. It wasn’t considered unconstitutional under the 14th amendment which guarantees “equal protection under the law to all people” as long as the facilities and accommodations to each race were equal. It was finally overturned by the Supreme Court in 1954 but only for public education. It took ten more years, when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, for areas of public accommodations e.g. transportation, hotels, and restaurants to be integrated. Just 68 years ago.
50 years ago women were forced to end their own pregnancies with coat hangars, back alley abortions or deliver an unwanted child. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, a 50 year right to choose, they not only allowed all that horror to return but added a new dimension. Preventing some women access to life threatening care in cases of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies due to purposely convoluted laws too difficult to interpret. Some, like Doug Mastriano running for Governor in Pennsylvania, even goes so far as to advocate the death penalty any time a woman’s life is chosen over a fetus.
The 15th amendment, ratified in 1870, ensured the right for Black men to vote. It was just 100 years ago women were afforded that right when Congress passed the 19th amendment on June 14, 1919 and ratified it on August 18, 1920. Yet 27 states have proposed 148 laws to prevent each citizen their right to vote.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case next year that may end our voice all together and give state legislatures the right to decide their state’s presidential electors, who won the election in any dispute and redistricting powers.
Too many are trying to turn back the clock.
Our forefathers never wanted us to revert back to a monarchy so they built in mechanisms that allow for the will of the people and their voices to be heard.
Through their vote.
Through their freedom of speech via protest and a free press.
Through the legislative and judicial systems.
Through their sheer numbers.
To force change and demand equality.
South Africa tried to keep the avalanche at bay when they enslaved the majority through apartheid. Fifty years later the forces for change became too massive to stop. After being imprisoned in his homeland for 27 years Nelson Mandela became the first black man to lead South Africa.
Italy just voted in the first openly fascist leader since Mussolini.
She joins the ranks of a frightening and growing list of countries advocating for anti- democratic principles. We haven’t heard such rhetoric since World War II.
France came close in the summer to electing a similar candidate.
Sadly, those who survived, lost loved ones and dealt with the brutality, insatiable desire for power and world wide devastation to humanity are no longer with us. They can’t share the unspeakable horrors that decision wrought on the world 80 years ago.
In the beginning, outlawing protests, shutting down the free press, enacting laws that take away the rights of women and minorities, and rewriting history isn’t overt. It’s an insidious extension into every day life with disparaging comments, outlawing school books we don’t like, attacking immigrants, blaming groups for all our losses and issues, inundating social media with lies for so many years it seems normal. Just as it started in Italy and Germany in the 1930’s.
Humans have short memories.
We forget what history should be teaching us.
Freedom isn’t free. It takes constant vigilance, an overwhelming desire to achieve and hard work to maintain.
Do we really want to go back to a time when
People of color were relegated to a “separate but equal” way of life.
When lynchings were a rampant and bodies hung for days as a way to deter anyone standing up for themselves.
Where women were not allowed to vote and they along with children were nothing more than property to be used and abused.
Where sweatshops flourished.
Where a woman’s body was not her own and sexual abuse was swept under the rug?
White, educated, wealthy, Christian males have enjoyed the fruits of this country since its inception. As the demographics of our country change, excluding large, often majority populations because of their color, faith, gender, or sexual orientation is getting harder to accomplish. So tactics that worked in the past are rearing their ugly heads.
When so many believe the promise of a better future is hopeless it becomes harder to believe action is worthwhile. Or that it will actually produce results. But that is when action is needed more than ever. Otherwise the option ceases to exist.
Not speaking out. Staying quiet in the hopes it will go away. Or the hope those who take over will actually care, attack others or leave us alone has never worked. Predators thrive in these situations.
It’s when we are exhausted. When we are overwhelmed. When we are worn down. When we are most distracted by our need to survive that all too often our actual survival is threatened.