Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Defending Our Four Freedoms

“These are times that try men souls, ‘begins Thomas Paine’s The Crisis papers. Paine wrote these lines as General Howe’s Redcoats and their paid mercenary armies of Hessian’s were chasing the rag tagged band of revolutionaries through the meadows and marshes of Hackensack, New Jersey. General Washington and the Continental Army had just lost battles in Long Island and Brooklyn. They fought the Hessians to a standstill in Harlem, then got routed in the Battle of White Plains. In order to survive Washington gave up control of Manhattan for the duration of the war; barely escaping General Howe and total destruction by slipping across the Hudson to the safety of New Jersey. Thomas Paine realized that the Revolution was in trouble. The egalitarian dream of a people yearning to be free from the shackles of monarchism and colonial rule was in dire jeopardy. America’s war for independence was on life support and the slightest added tribulation could have crushed our beloved republic while it was still in the womb of Mother Liberty waiting to be born.

Thanks to patriots like Thomas Paine the revolution survived. Paine’s clarion call to his countrymen exhorted them not to shy away from the call to struggle for liberty.  Paine writes,“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands 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 every thing 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.”

Common Sense December 23, 1776.
The Crisis 1, Ft. Lee NJ

What an inspiration this foreign born American provides for his fellow countrymen 232 years after he has penned these words to call compatriots to action. It is with great reverence that I evoke Paine’s words hoping that it will stir my countrymen from ambivalence and apathy. Paine’s words reach across two centuries to call his countrymen to take action to defend our country from the threat of unending military conflict, economic debasement, vanishing liberty, cultural warfare and growing civil strife.

On this 232nd anniversary of our nation’s birth I call on my country’s patriots to come to the defense of our beloved country for which so many gave the last true measure of their devotion. This day is not about presidents, political parties, social classes, religious affiliation, generals or statesmen. This day is about the American people. This day is about our ideals, values, faith and the actions and sacrifices we are prepared to make to protect these values to guard our liberties. All societies are judged by what they value and uphold. America’s values are a bright beacon for the world. America is a nation of laws.

We are a participatory democracy. We uphold freedom of expression and the free practice of faith. America is a country of opportunity. America is a country of free people. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms offers fundamental freedoms humans “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear are values we must jealously guard with constant vigilance. Our freedom does not consist in our ability to choose from six different brands of breakfast cereals. Freedom to consume what we choose to purchase is not the liberty that we are speaking about.

Our freedoms cannot be devalued to reside in a Dollar Store discount bin. Our freedoms are beyond a value recognized by a bar code scanner at Wal-Mart. Our freedoms were purchased by generations of struggle and hardship on battlefields, factory shop floors, class rooms, pioneer trails, Native American reservations, cotton fields, company board rooms, inventor’s tools shops and in so many everyday extraordinary places. Our country is confronted with great challenges to the economic security of the people. We are threatened by crisis’s in devalued housing prices, rising prices for gas and energy, creeping inflation for foodstuffs and uncertain credit and labor markets.  Patriots must come together to share responsibility to solve these problems and equitably share access to our country’s resources and abundant bounty to assure freedom from want for everyone.

American’s freedoms are based on law. We are a country of laws. Our law is based on constitutional rights guaranteed to all citizens. That right includes trail by a jury of our peers and the right of habeas corpus. We do not practice vigilante justice or the right of the stronger. The genius of our constitution is that it confers no special privilege to the strong and extends the same rights and protection to the weak. As a nation of laws we allow no gulags or special prisons. We uphold the right of trials for individuals and the Supreme Courts decision that ruled Gitmo unconstitutionally withheld this right was an affirmation of this American ideal. Patriots guard their civil liberties and fight to protect these liberties for their countrymen. As patriots we must ask why America imprisons more people then anywhere else in the world; and why are these people primarily people of color?

Freedom of expression extends to unpopular ideas, faiths and beliefs. Subversive ideas run counter to the norm, the prevailing state of conditions. If people surmise that the prevailing state of being is intolerable subversion is well advised. What some consider subversive today becomes the law of the land in the future that enriches the liberty of everyone. Abolition of slavery, women suffrage, 40 hour work week, ending of Jim Crow laws, social security and environmental protection laws were all once considered subversive. Who among us today denies how these movements extended freedom for all Americans; and upheld our country as an example for freedom loving people throughout the world?

The FISA law is a threat to individual’s right to privacy, speech and free association. Patriots must work to protect these freedoms. Freedom from fear can only be realized through the courage carried in all patriots’ hearts.  FISA is born from fear and begets fear. American’s are not fearful people. It is our birthright to be free from fear.  FDR exhorted his countrymen to action to meet the challenges of The Great Depression with the reminder that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” How prescient is this advice for American’s today?

Our country was the crowning political expression of the Age of Enlightenment. Ours is a land of opportunity. America values and rewards risk takers and entrepreneurship but opportunity is not solely defined by the ability and talent for acquisition and control of hard assets. Opportunity is an egalitarian idea where society offers all people the basic tools to succeed and thrive. Those include education, health, safety and equality of access. Blind pursuit and acquisition of wealth is a poor mans treasure. Freedoms value is not measured by the ledgers of commerce but what people will sacrifice in the service of their country. America’s celestial balance sheet of service and liberty has enriched our nation beyond all measure.

Real patriotism is not demonstrated by wearing a lapel pin, flying flags from your side car windows or claiming with bravado that America can conquer the world with its army. Real patriots dutifully serve on jury duty when they are called. They make it a point to vote in elections and take time to study the issues and deliberate the problems that confront our nation. Patriots make their voices heard in the marketplace of ideas and listen to the voice of others and respect the right of dissenters to freely express theirs.

Patriots don’t exploit low information voters. They don’t guide them to a decision with clichés and guile that appeal to baser instincts and prejudices. Nor do they use obfuscation and empty symbolism to cloud issues to confer power to a stronger party. Patriots protect the weak, speak truth and place the interests of our country above party interests. Patriots need to be conscious stewards of our land.

We honor our founding fathers enduring contribution to our republic because they created and framed our constitution. We can make an enduring contribution to the future generations of Americans by protecting and preserving the natural beauty of this country. We cannot ground down our purple mountain majesties to crumbling bits of rubble to squeeze out the last bits of shale oil. Nor can we drill in Anwar and lose our abundant natural bounty of beauty nor drill off the continental shelf to forever stain our shining seas. We must believe and understand that America is a sustainable dream that can be lived by our many generations that follow. Patriots need to employ our God given talents of industry, diligence; focus and creativity to solve our energy problems to wean ourselves from our dependency on fossil fuels and create an energy infrastructure to assure that the next century continues to be America’s century.

Patriotism requires commitment to our unique social contract. Lady Liberty asks the world to send us your poor huddled masses yearning to be free. We cannot wall off our ideals to others and must join the community of nations as a sovereign dignitary and light to the world. Patriots affirm in practice that indeed America is a special place. America guarantees all citizens equal access and the rights and privileges of all its citizens.  The full enfranchisement of our LGBT citizenry is the civil rights struggle of our day.  All freedom loving patriots who love liberty must stand to achieve those rights for all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.  Patriots must become mentors, teachers, Sunday school instructors, coaches, helpers to the poor and homeless to insure that our social contract is a rock solid commitment to the value and sacredness of each and every life.

Patriots must secure and protect the secular nature of our political system. Tyrants and dictators use religion and state ideology to rule over oppressed and exploited people. Free people cannot be imprisoned by the whim and fiat of oligarchs, castes, privileged classes and philosopher kings. Theocracy endangers democratic ideals, principles and practices; and should be relegated to history’s dustbin with the other relics of the feudal era. The horrid excess of religious fanaticism visited the shores our country on 9/11 with terrible and catastrophic effect. The Taliban in Afghanistan demonstrate how theocracies denigrate the human spirit and demand servitude and compliance to a potentate’s interpretation of God’s will and enforces it with stick and sword. Such practices are antithetical to our understanding of how religion intersects and informs our principles of governance for free people.

We must not allow our revulsion to the excess of theocracies to impede the free practice of faith or non-faith by our citizens. Religious liberty needs to be protected and strengthened. Our faith traditions call us to be more and America is a special place on God’s earth where we are allowed to be more. No religion or unbelief is Un-American or dangerous as long as it remains a personal guide to a life of faith and is not used as a political ideology. Lastly patriots need to work for peace. The world is more interconnected today then at any time in its history. The promotion of peace that embraces the community of nations and engages individuals, communities, corporations and nation states need to become sustainable enterprises that can build and deliver the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the many generations to come is a divine endeavor.

To close we’ll salute one of our nation’s greatest native sons with Aaron Copeland’s “Lincoln Portrait.” Abraham Lincoln is “everlasting in the memory of his countrymen. Abraham Lincoln, protector and savior who fought to insure that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth. I offer prayers and extend best wishes of our fondest hopes for my beloved country and fellow countrymen and to all people yearning to be free and the patriots working for liberty everywhere. God’s blessings to all.

Risk: political apathy, totalitarianism, social unrest

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July 4, 2008 - Posted by | Bush, Civil Rights, classical, culture, democracy, FISA, history, holiday, LGBT | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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