“Whatever is my right is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.”
On December 23, 1776, Thomas Paine penned the following words that would serve to inspire American patriots, and change the direction of a young nation. “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
Those same words are true today, and those who stand in service to our country are peacefully protesting the inequities that have continued to exist since our forefathers founded this nation. With them in service are local police and national guard troops, called upon to create a perimeter one moment, and then taking a knee in a sign of solidarity the next. Paine’s treatise was entitled, “The Crisis”, and his words ring true two-hundred and forty-four years later, as do the words written six months previous, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Our “Crisis” is not going to go away quietly. For too long, people have died, been marginalized, and denied their basic rights because of skin color, ancestry, religious belief or some other trait that somehow threatens the status quo. The inexcusable deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd have served as the spark igniting a nation-wide protest and call for change. This is not a time to sit by complacently, watch TV, and complain about how things are “being handled”. Rather, it is a time to acknowledge the inequities that exist in our communities and nation, and make a personal pledge to be an agent of change.
We are still a nation divided, but over the past week we have witnessed people come together, seek to understand, and call for an end to the prejudice and divisiveness that compromises us as a nation. We have many challenges ahead, and we need to set the bar high. Let’s stop trying to “Make America Great Again”, instead, let’s come together and assure that the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are a reality for all!