Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Rights as an Engaged Citizen

Last Wednesday, the U.S. celebrated Bill of Rights Day. For those of you scratching your head, remember that the Bill of Rights consists of the first 10 amendments of the US Constitution. In honor of Bill of Rights Day, I’d like to write about my favorite amendment - the First Amendment.

The First provides the basic liberties of freedom of expression, speech, religion, press, assembly, along with the right to petition the government. To Americans, and those living in affluent democratic societies, these rights do seem basic or fundamental even though they are still out of reach for much of the world.

So what’s so great about the First? It allows Americans to live without fear of government reprisal, but more importantly, it gives engaged citizens a voice and the power to remake public policy. But this power is only granted to engaged citizens – informed members of society who take the time to vote and advocate.

Yes, we are all busy and inundated with the minutia of our lives. How are we supposed to find the time to advocate, vote, and keep up on the issues? There are countless ways to get involved and range in commitment from sending an email to running for office.

Those who fail to remain engaged have essentially given up their voice; their Constitutional authority to improve the government. Without engaged citizens, we risk ineffective policy making that could impact any one of our lives. So for those reading this today, I urge you to chose action over indifference and exercise your rights as an engaged citizen.

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