• Phylls H. Moore

Freedom is for Everyone, Use Your Words

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

I'm on my second cup of coffee, watching a series from the History Channel on the forefathers of America, and it's storming outside. They were rebels with a cause, ready to buck up against their British government. However, it took them a while. Some of them had to be coerced. One of the narrators said our forefathers probably wouldn't believe we've lasted this long or accomplished what we have today. I wonder about this sometimes. If they see us from another spirit, a small brown child in a cage in south Texas, they might think we've gone off the rails. I wonder the same thing about Jesus--what would he think?

I agree our forefathers might see the buildings, monuments, universities, churches and cities that have been established, structures bearing their names or people they would recognize and think we've accomplished something. They would also see our values in the monuments that have been altered and destroyed, pulled down because they don't represent America, but a small blip of bigotry (I wrote those words in 2018, but I no longer think it was a small blip. It still exists and magnifies itself frequently now days), a stain on our history. Would they recognize from our current actions, it's a history we struggle to change? They would certainly know some of us took the words on their documents and put them into action.

Our country was founded on rebellion and protests. The major shifts toward freedom of all citizens have occurred after the people have raised their voices to rebel against the unfair actions of government. Yes, the brave risk their lives in combat to protect a country founded on freedom, but we all know some of the recent wars waged by our government have not been wise or necessary, and still the troops were willing to serve. That's important and those brave deserve as many benefits as the government can muster. However, the indignant brave, those willing to challenge the actions of the leadership on our own soil, a leadership not only impacting American citizens, but the global community, have played an equally important role in the freedoms we enjoy in America. The indignant brave might wear a "pussy hat", a T-shirt emblazoned with "MeToo", kneel at a sports venue during the national anthem, or carry a sign saying "Time's Up". (I don't consider the indignant brave to include insurrectionists, or anyone who would try to alter the democratic process).

What we know now, that our forefathers didn't know, is that our communications and technology have not only put us in direct contact with people across every ocean, but we have viewed our planet from space. There are no borders on that map. While the tenets they clung to in 1776 still apply to the United States of America, we must be aware they apply to everyone (WE the people), inside and outside of our imaginary borders.

Our forefathers were clear about what freedom would mean, not just for themselves, but for everyone. However, everyone didn't have the right to vote. Everyone wasn't considered a person. The country was founded by white men for white men, and we have the hindsight to recognize that now (or some of us do.) They knew they didn't have to put on a uniform and pick up a weapon to fight for freedom. They fought for it by writing about it in pamphlets, protesting in harbors, and arguing in courtrooms. They wore their gray wigs and rumpled coats and used their words. Isn't that what we tell children when we want them to stop crying and tell us what's wrong?--"Use your words."

Our forefathers would be impressed, but they would also see we have much to do. In the dedication of Birdie & Jude, I recognize two of my high school classmates, Ronnie Green and the late Sam Shaw. They served our country in uniforms in the late 1960's and early '70's. However, in 1968 they experienced something that was more frightening than carrying a gun on foreign soil. Ronnie and Sammy were subjected to an event meant to intimidate and demean them. They were threatened by eight white men in the Oakwood Cemetery outside Refugio, Texas. Some people in that little town would say that didn't happen, but those same people will wave the flag and say America stands for freedom. Those same people might think it's okay to separate children from their families because their parents are presenting themselves for asylum at our southern border. Or maybe the family only wants to make a better life, but they have been detained and some of them have been caged. Refugio means refuge. America is synonymous with freedom. Does everyone have freedom in America in 2018? Did we ALL ever have it? I've changed my mind about that. We did not and WE still don't. "We, the people..." Come on now, use your words! Vote and use your words!

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