Remember, Remember

I know it’s late and for many of you, the fifth of November has come and gone. I do not claim to be British, as I was born and raised in America, but rather than bumble around the point, I will jump right in: Guy Fawkes Day. I know that some view Guy Fawkes as a revolutionary, some as a terrorist, but no one denies the change he made had real and lasting effects on the world we live in today.

I enjoy the movie V for Vendetta-but recently I’ve found it’s almost so relateable it hurts. Allow me to quote a speech from it-one of the most moving speeches in the whole movie, I think.

V: Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologise for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of everyday routine, the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition, the totality of television. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, where upon important events of the past, usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well, certainly, there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. They were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night, I sought to end that silence. Last night, I destroyed the Old Bailey to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago, a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words; they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me, one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot. -V For Vendetta (2006)

Now I know it’s long-but it’s worth it. Every single word is worth reading when you think about the election just days away. I voted already, a lot of people I know have voted already. But this is for those of you who have not yet done so-or are waiting for Election Day.

Do not think for one moment that your voice will not be heard. If you vote, your vote counts. If you do not vote, your voice is also heard, but the message is much more dire. I’m not asking you to vote the way I did. I’m not asking you to align yourself with my party, to vote in a specific way on certain issues. What I’m doing is asking you to vote. I’d be beyond thrilled if you chose to vote for someone other than DT, but I cannot force you to vote one way or another.

Listen, the fifth of November went down in remembrance of someone who saw the oppression of a government who had gone too far, oppressed too many people. I don’t want actions like that to be necessary-but the time will come when we cannot remain silent, when we cannot remain voiceless.

You see, the way oppression works is by singling out those who are made into scapegoats. But when that group is gone, a new group will be singled out. And the cycle will continue until there is only one group left. So when they come for one group, and you say nothing, you’re allowing the oppressors to put you on their list.

I stand for those who have had their voices taken from them. I stand for the hope of peace and life and access to clean water and human rights. My skin is white-and I have that privilege. So it is with that privilege that I make my voice heard. I’m working on a #NoDapl blog, and I’m writing letters to my elected officials-but for now, the most important thing that can be done is to vote.

So please, go vote. Vote Monday, vote Tuesday. If you have an absentee ballot, mail it out right away-and get that time stamp. Take action. Put your privilege to use. Put your oppression at the focus.

I know not everyone can protest all their problems. I know not everyone can dedicate their lives to justice and law and awareness. But voting only takes a couple minutes-but the effects of your choices last for years.

Go vote.

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We The People

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

-The Declaration of Independence 4 July 1776

                                                 

These words race like lightning through my mind today. Over the course of this election cycle, we have seen the most disgraceful behavior from the people who are most likely to lead our country for the next four years. No matter which side you support (if any!), you have seen it too. And I suppose that is why these words echo so loudly. This is as political as I will get, but what I have to say needs to be heard, by both Democrats and Republicans alike, as well as the Independent, Green and other parties. 

If we, as Americans, contemplate (seriously or joking) moving to a different country to seek political asylum, or just to remove ourselves from the tyranny of a president (which we elect) then we are not using our rights to their fullest capacity, nor are we engaging in the very foundations of Americanism. If our first response is to pack it in and flee, that we may escape to a land of freedom, then we are the ones who are responsible for the decline and ultimately the destruction of American values, freedoms and the enduring ideal of “land of opportunities”. 

It is our right, our duty, as citizens of this nation to ensure the continuation of values for our posterity. Those values are not left behind in the lands of our forefathers, they are alive in the hearts of the patriotic, the just and the open armed. To let slip the rights of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, unalienable rights which were given to us by no less than an act of desperation, of treason and of great courage. These rights are defended by similar attitudes by the members of our armed forces. And if we allow ourselves to become enslaved by the very government we elect, America will be lost.

                                  

The paragraph that I quoted at the very beginning is from the Declaration of Independence. It was written 239 years, 7 months and 16 days ago. People don’t speak like this anymore. But they should. And pay attention to those words, which become more relevant every day. I will do my best to “translate” into everyday 21st Century language, just so the words do not go without understanding. 

“When a government becomes destructive (to its people), it is the right of the people to make a new government which will provide a better access to safety and happiness. The government should not be extremely altered without good cause, because all might suggest that it is too hard on them without just provocation. But in the event that the actions of the government are documented as being abuses of power, and seeks to reduce its people to a state of being completely powerless, oppressed by the very government which was designed to give them freedom then it is the right of the people, the duty of the people to rebel against such government, forming a new government which protects their liberties instead of uses their liberties against them.”

So although this is a political post, I have done my best to remain as unbiased in my thoughts as possible. But I urge you, fellow Americans, to rethink what it is that makes America so free, so great. What is it that caused your forefathers to immigrate here? What caused them to stay? And if the answer makes no sense today, isn’t true today, then it is our duty to reclaim those liberties, those freedoms for our own and the generations to follow. Make America the nation which opens its arms to others, celebrating the freedoms of not only citizens, but the freedoms and rights afforded to all human beings. Let us be a beacon of hope for those who have none. Let us be a shining example of what it means to be a democracy. Let us take back our government, our country, our home. May freedom ring, may equality prevail and may our country be blessed with common sense, a sense of duty and brotherhood.

               

(These are the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty.)

  
(This is where my blog title comes from. I know it is the U.S. Constitution and not the Declaration of Independence, but this is in NOW WAY less important.)