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Three Words Every American Should Remember

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What do the words morality, values, and honor mean to you? What will you tell your children when they ask their meanings? For most people they are abstract words that help govern how we live our lives and you will most likely try to find a way to explain that to the young minds. For children, actions speak far louder than words. You will attempt to express through deeds your personal system of morality, values, and honor, and hope they see this and learn. That is what parents do. As the years progress you will watch them to see if they grasp the knowledge you have handed down, and you will step in as needed to nudge them to the right path. In short, you will hold them to your standards. Should not your government be held to the same standards? 

In America, morality has evolved to become synonymous with laws. We claim to be a nation of laws, and most of them are based on morality – killing, stealing, etc. Many of us find our morality derived from religious beliefs. We legislated these beliefs into laws for the common good, and it is a moral system. Every member of the government is sworn to uphold these laws. But, is that enough?


Many politicians use a photo opportunity to puff their chests and champion the phrase, “Nobody is above the law.” Makes for a great sound bite on the nightly news. We’ve heard this many times over the past few months and each time you no doubt react with a nod of the head. “If they break the law, they go to jail. Same as me.” But what happens when the cameras are turned off? That chest thumping now becomes a not nearly as strong, “For the sake of the country, we need to look forward. We cannot dwell on the past.” That doesn’t sound nearly as good, does it? In reality that means that those deemed “important” who have broken our laws, the morality of our land, and by extension, the principles of our religious foundations, will not be punished. Can we still claim that, “Nobody is above the law?” Are we still a nation of morals, or, have we now evolved into something  . . . different  . . . ? Better?


If a convenience store is robbed and the clerk is shot do we chest thump and say, “For the sake of the family, we cannot dwell on the past.” No, that criminal is arrested, put on trial, and, if found guilty, they are punished. It is the law of our land, our morality. Yet, politicians are held to a different standard, are they not? How many times have you seen a politician found guilty of a crime receive little, or no, punishment? Quite often. They are held to a different standard than the average American, and usually a lower standard at that. When in reality they should be held to a much stricter measure as they have ample more opportunity to commit crimes against not only the law, but, more importantly, the people.


We cannot call ourselves a nation of laws if our national policy is contrary to said laws. It makes no sense. You cannot establish habeus corpus as a sacred guideline then suspend it when it becomes a nuisance. You cannot sign treaties abolishing torture as a practice then openly commit this act, or to cowardly kidnap people and take them to a country whose morality is not as evolved so you are allowed greater freedom to perform this despicable practice. Is this America? Is this what we have become? We are now a nation that tortures prisoners for information? Let that sink in. It is now acceptable to dehumanize people in this way? We are now the ones that use terror to accomplish our goals. And we have done this out of fear. What these feeble minds in power don’t realize is that they have made us into that which we fight.  They have eroded our nation’s soul far more than all of the terrorists in the world could ever hope to accomplish.


This country has endured many trials and tribulations and has persevered. Our spirit is strong and when we get knocked down we charge back up. No terrorist could ever change that no matter what they do and we love to express that spirit, “Don’t tread on me,”

“These colors don’t run.” Yet, we stand by and do nothing when our very way of life is assaulted from within. The Patriot Act is the single most perversely titled piece of legislation in our country’s history. It did more to strip the rights we fought a war of independence to obtain than England ever could have. How many of you in Congress even read this government-changing bill before you rubber stamped it? Citizens in this country are now monitored without warrant and are seeing their rights evaporate all through the actions of those sworn to defend them.


Our financial system is collapsing before our very eyes. Congress, over the objections of the people, gave a trillion dollars to the Wall Street bankers to save the country. This had to be done now, now, now, yesterday or the country was going to fall apart. No debate was allowed, no time to think of a strong, responsible course of action. Both presidential candidates championed the cause of the bailout. Now the President and several members of Congress are “outraged” at how the money was spent. Very admirable, but where were you when the American people were getting robbed? That was it. That was your opportunity to represent the American people and provide the leadership they contracted you to perform, and you blew it. Like a typical politician you show up late and try to spin the situation to your benefit. This time your bluster has no weight.


A system of values is not something you can discard when it becomes inconvenient. Values are those intangible ideas that allow us to stand tall when temptation rears its ugly head. Those times when values would be so easy to dismiss, yet, they are not, define who we are. If they can be overlooked when times are tough then your convictions were meaningless to begin with, weren’t they?


You cannot borrow a system of values for your own personal use and return them when you are done. They must be derived from within. You cannot co-opt from the founding fathers, use their values, and quote their words of freedom and will of the people, then fill your campaign coffers with donations from a corporation that has neither freedom nor will of the people in mind. Then to magnify this farce, you vote for legislation in favor of said corporation and against the people. To say your values are compromised is a gross understatement.


Free speech is the fundamental right for all citizens. If you truly value our Constitution, and you must because you swore to uphold it, then you cannot push legislation that obliterates it. Call it a “Fairness Doctrine” if you wish but we see it for what it is: government censorship. You cannot tell a media outlet what they can and cannot put on the air and still call it free speech. Perhaps these politicians only value selected parts of our Constitution. Which section will they outlaw next?


Perhaps the most ambiguous of our three words is honor. It is by far the hardest to define. What will you tell your child this word means? Standing up for what’s right? Giving your word and then standing by that oath? Revering those before you that died for their, our, country? Doing what you know is right when it is much easier and maybe even personally beneficial to do wrong? Why not all of these definitions?


Honor is not only a word to be defined; it is a commitment to a life. It is a difficult life because you put conscience in control of your decisions. You cannot stand at a holiday podium, in a cemetery of endless American flags, and spew of the sacrifice those men and women gave to preserve a document and a way of life, then vote for legislation to eviscerate said document. You are now without honor. You cannot swear an oath on a bible, a morality, to uphold and defend a document that you then attempt to destroy. You are now without honor.


When you meet out of work people, shake their hand, put on your patented dour look, and tell them how much you understand they are hurting. You know they are worried their children will go hungry. Yet, deep down you know the only reason they are unemployed is because you voted for the trade agreement that forced their company to relocate overseas. Your actions are directly responsible for their plight. Yet you use this for a photo opportunity. How can you look yourself in the mirror? If you put another country or an organization ahead of the American people then not only are you without honor, you are now guilty of treason. No group can come before the American people. You are a representative of and for the people and have sworn allegiance to our most sacred document. You should be willing to defend and uphold it with your last breath. If this is not your sole purpose, then why the hell are you in my government?


Those that have served our country in time of war are memorialized in our society, and

they should be. They have put their lives on the line for this country and far too many have paid the ultimate price. To ask them to also pay for their medical care related to their service is unacceptable. The previous administration started these wars based on lies and sent our boys and girls to fight them. They were soldiers, they stood tall, and did their duty only to come home and be subjected to sub-standard medical care. Now this administration wants them to pay for that care out of their own pocket. What’s next, are we going to bill the families of those that have fallen for funeral expenses? It is absolutely disgusting.


There are three other words we as Americans should know, and they are significantly more important: We the people. Yes, I know that we know these words and where they come from. We might even be able to recite a line or two from the preamble. Some of us might even be able to deliver more. But do we understand what these words really mean? I can sum it up in one word: accountability. When you teach your children the words we have discussed will you also teach them accountability or consequences? None of the early words can be learned without an understanding of the final two. What good are values, morality, or honor if there are no consequences to not following them? What good is We the People if there is no accountability?

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Michael is a writer and wannabe philosopher living in Illinois.
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Three Words Every American Should Remember

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