I had a class today. The instructor said something I can't wrap my mind around- we were talking about protests and he said, "I can't imagine caring so much about an issue or a cause that it would be worth protesting."
I was flabbergasted, left utterly speechless- a condition those who know me will attest, I seldom, if ever reach.
I've always believed a person who stands for nothing falls for anything. Our country was founded on protest- Thirteen colonies protesting taxation without representation, we declared our independence form Britain- it's who we are and the idea that government exists to serve us is as sacred as the idea that we exist to serve the government is alien and revolting.
While it is a citizen's right to have no stand on an issue, I believe the revulsion some citizens have toward those who stand ready to defend their beliefs is in itself revolting.
Have we come so far that people who believe in a cause and protest peacefully are not respected and encouraged to fight for what they believe? Are we so far from 1776 and our founding fathers that we see protest as wrong? Have so many of us lost the will to stand up and say, "that's wrong?" that we begin to accept that those who do so must be stopped?
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."- The United States Constitution, First Amendment.
"The right of the people peaceably to assemble."- Our forefathers saw this as so important that they made it part of the first article of the Bill of Rights. Be it voting rights for all, women's suffrage, the Viet Nam war or a zoning issue in a neighborhood, the right to protest is more than a right, it's a responsibility of a citizen.
"To petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Our forefathers believed that when we have an issue with our government, we have the right to be heard- be it a national issue like participation in a war or a local issue like the number of firehouses in a town, our citizenship demands our government listen to our voices of both agreement and dissension. The government doesn't have to do as we ask but we have the right to be heard. If enough of us voice a like opinion and feel we aren't heard, we have the right to vote in a new government.
Without the right to petition the government, our government, for the redress our grievances, without the right to assemble peaceably, the people lose the necessary control over the entity created to serve us- our government.
I am a police officer. My oath requires me to protect the rights of the people. I protect those righs while enforcing the laws of the land. and the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land.
The Law Enforcement Oath of Honor
On my honor,
I will never betray my badge,
my integrity, my character,
or the public trust.
I will always have
the courage to hold myself
and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the constitution
my community and the agency I serve.
That oath means I will defend my commuity against violent, dangerous protests but it also means I will defend those protesting peacefully, exercising their Constitutional rights as well.
"I can't imagine an issue or a cause worth protesting about."
I can't imagine sitting idly by without having my voice heard and if it takes a protest to affect change for something I believe in, I can't imagine not being part of that protest.
I am an American citizen. I will exercise my right, the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. I've done it before and I'd gladly do it again.
The day I can't imagine an issue or cause worth protesting for is the day I die, because that will be the day I stop caring about my country, it's citizens and its future. That's the day I stop being who I am, an American Citizen.