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Preserving our 'inalienable rights'.

Wow. I look around to my neighbors and friends, who are doing their best to live their lives in ways that benefit themselves, their families, their communities and their country, and I am shaken to the core to realize the ease with which they can find solidarity in selectively choosing which part of the Constitution that they want to disregard, and in what manner. Suddenly, it is one set of laws and protections for one group of friends and neighbors, and another--not really defined set--for the minority.

When the American patriots melded their extensive experience to create the basis in law and governing for the fledgling United States, they carefully set it up so that it was a democracy, but not a mob ruled by majority. They recognized that certain rights were, as they put it, "inalienable." In other words, they couldn't be taken away, no matter how many other people wanted to abridge or obliterate them. The one that they recognized as the most important, and the lack of which had caused centuries of mayhem and strife in Europe and the Middle East, was the freedom to worship and believe as each individual sees fit for her/himself, without pressure, influence, tax or incentive--in short, complete neutrality--from the government created by that Constitution and Bill of Rights.

We have been here before. If nothing is really new under the sun, and we follow the sad path dictated by the axiom "Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it," then we are in for a tremendous upheaval as the majority tries to subjugate the minority; the definition of who makes up the minority changes as more and more people are no longer either allowed or choose to be in the elite who have set about removing the rights of citizenship from selected non-elite groups; and, if the country survives, the various abridged-rights groups when lumped together discover that they have become the majority, and they go about piecing back the Constitution, paying retribution for the survivors of the harmed groups, and passing new legislation to replace the laws that were abandoned, retracted or ignored, to "ensure that this will never happen again."

What a horrible wasteful trial to go through just to end up re-discovering what we already had. It isn't a coincidence that our government has survived the longest of any in history without having a huge turbulence followed by the creation of a new country, governing body and guiding laws. The underpinning that we started out with was, and is, solid and is the cause of our stability.

If we stand up for our Constitution, our Bill of Rights and our country, and not just the parts that the current and ever-changing majority declares worth honoring, all of us will be able to stand up without the weight of lip-service submission pressing on our consciousness. The alternative is a temporarily happy group of overseers, who will have to find another freedom that needs restricting in order to continue to have a reason to exist as a ruling oppressive group.

--Elena Bohannan

Bozeman, Montana
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Author:Bohannan, Elena
Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Oct 1, 2003
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