Friday, July 4, 2014

In 76 words or more

Happy 4th of July! It's been ten years since I lit up this town like a firecracker with my words.

Did you know that my signature was requested by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper for the Declaration of Independence front page story which ran on 7/4/04? The headline:

INDEPENDENCE DAY reflections on Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

I received a phone call from the publisher a few days before.

"We would like to include your submission to our request for readers' responses to, What the Declaration of Independence Means to Me in 76 words or less. Would you please fax your signature, so we can include your submission as one of the 14 signers?"

"Are you serious? My opinion was one of dissent. Are you sure you don't have mine confused with someone else's?"

"No, we need a variety of opinions and yours stood out."

"I'll fax it right away. Thank you."
 
I drove to Kinkos and spent $1.50 to fax my John Hancock, and then I bought several newspapers.
 There were fourteen columns/ bios. Here's mine:
 
We have the right to dissent
without fear of repercussion,
the right to seek a comfortable
standard of living and the right
to pursue personal satisfaction.
Our forefathers were well-intentioned,
but the right to pursue is no guarantee.
Many have suffered repression because
of their color, gender, age and class.
As America continues to erode from within,
I worry about the "inalienable" rights of my
elderly parents and my grandchildren,
all endowed by their creator.
(Signed)
Linda O'Connell
 
Hope you all are blessed with the best 4 F's: food, family, friends and fireworks! It is 80 degrees and sunny here. We will be gathering with friends and watching community fireworks.
 
I am very proud to be a citizen of the good old U.S.A. But I also believe that our country, one of the wealthiest, is in decline when we have people dying from lack of food, health care and housing. 
 
I am all for social justice, individual rights, religions and freedoms, but one look at our culture says a lot. Drug abuse is commonplace. The F word is bandied about and dropped in front of children and elderly so often it doesn't even have shock value anymore. Pre kindergarteners know the middle finger is the "bad one" and lack of civility is evident in movies, classrooms, boardrooms, among politicians and in homes. Is this progress? 
 
Respect for authority figures is going by the wayside. I am not talking blind obedience. It is rude to blast filthy lyrics at a stop light, or to curse like a sailor on shore leave when you are sitting in a restaurant. I am ashamed of the blatant disrespect for teachers, police officers and one another. Why are we afraid of offending others by asking them to alter their rude behaviors? Demanding respect? Expecting better?

Do we want a nation of Me-Me-Me instead of We-We-We, where the big dollar means more than the little person? I am hopping down off my soap box now.
 
I hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July. Your two cents worth is welcomed, even if you have a dissenting point of view.

4 comments:

Sioux said...

I have no words of dissent, because when you wrote that to me (along with all your other readers) you were preaching to the choir.

Yes, our country is a great one but it's not perfect. And talking about how we can improve is NOT being disrespectful to America.

Susan said...

Hi Linda...

I agree that a general lack of respect is very evident in our society.

When it is toward teachers and police officers, as well as our President, it is especially distasteful to me.

I also feel the best way for me, as an individual, to help change that is simply to set a good example.

Little things count in life.

Our voices may be very small but they are still heard.

Despite its drawbacks and major blunders, this is a great country and there is no where else in the entire world where I would rather live.

Susan

Tammy said...

I can see why they included that in spite of the fact that you wrote it with eyes wide open. And you're so right about respect, which is the backbone of every good relationship there is. That's something they teach down South that I wish would catch on in the rest of the country.

Val said...

Maybe one day we'll be saying, "Put your Linda O'Connell right here."