America Ignorant and Free

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“Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Up until a couple of years ago I was completely oblivious to politics. When I was a child, I grew up watching Reagan on the television talk, seemingly, without the slightest thought of what was coming out of his own mouth. My mother, being rather cynical, taught me to believe that it didn’t matter who you voted for, it all turned out the same. And as most children do, I filled my head with lots of other things. Then there was 9/11, and everyone, even from the furthest corners of the country, even those with no family involved, felt a tremor blast through their heart and their sense of reality. But even that didn’t do enough to awaken me to politics.

Then, in 2003, when Colin Powell and Dick Cheney and various other members of the Bush administration came forward with “evidence” to justify the invasion of Iraq, I watched for moments and changed the channel. Later on, when we actually went to war, I was surprised and a little worried, but I figured it was being done for the ultimate good. I, like so many other people, had way too many other things going on in my life to pay attention to these important things. I don’t suppose I have to tell most of you what came about to change my thinking. Within a year or so, we were all hearing the piles and piles of stories on violence in Iraq and the mounting death tolls on both sides. When our president would speak, everything he said came out as catch phrases and high school cheers, with no real validity, coherence, or basis in reality. After witnessing all that was going on, it became a chore to ignore the state of things. That’s when I woke up to the realities of our current situation and our responsibilities as citizens of a free nation.

What does this have to do with the Fourteenth Amendment? It really comes down to people, the people of this nation that are referred to by every article and amendment of our Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, our third president and one of the founding fathers of our nation, said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” In being passive and neglecting my own knowledge of current events, and the evidence and lack thereof used to support this war, and many other political things that have occurred in my lifetime, I have failed as a citizen. We all who have done so little to educate and update ourselves and dig deeper into the facts have failed our country! We, the people, are to blame for our country’s behavior as a direct result of our ignorance.

It didn’t just start with this war. We have already been, for years, failing our founding father’s glorious idea for a truly free nation. We are a nation who has forgotten about the Fourteenth Amendment. When the time came for slavery to end - far too late as it should have never started - Lincoln went as far as to go to war to bring the people closer toward to a truly free nation. Upon freeing the slaves, there were many slave owners who oppressed the newly freed citizens and did their best to ignore their freedom. In the most daring move toward a free nation, the Fourteenth Amendment was drafted to help prevent the oppression of former slaves and any other, for the time being, male citizen of this nation. It was the biggest step toward equal civil rights any nation or group of people had ever drafted or invoked.

Of course, years later when women were finally given the right to vote and be equal, our dream of equal civil rights became complete, or so it seemed. So we were taught in school, anyway. Once again, to quote Thomas Jefferson, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” What Jefferson knew, that most people do not, was that our country can’t function on majority rule alone. When majority rule stands alone, it breeds a mob mentality. Majority rule must be accompanied by reason and protection of equal rights for all citizens. The majority should not be able to vote against a minority’s constitutionally given rights, due to protections that were written as law in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.