Our Inalienable Rights

Doris - Ft. Myers, Florida
Entered on August 7, 2008
Age Group: 65+

This I believe . . .

I believe in the inalienable right that to think for ourselves and state our positions on politics, life, the environment or anything else without consequences from friends and family.

I believe that each of us were born into different circumstances, were influenced by our parents and surroundings and, yet, had the right to formulate our opinions and views because these priceless qualities are what make us so different from demagogical states around the world.

I grew up in a liberal family and married a man whose roots were conservative. Yet, he not only understands and accepts my views, he sometimes embraces them as I embrace his. Over the years I have gone from a democrat to an independent, then republican and now back to democrat. These swings reflect how lucky I am to be exposed to many different people with many different positions; how lucky I am to choose a position on the issues that face us today.

I believe it is not the label one wears or espouses as discussions turn to politics, it is the depth of understanding one has of the problems that we face now and those that could ultimately destroy the incredible advances our proud country has developed in the last 200 years.

Recently I received a long and, to me, offensive, email from an old acquaintance, no doubt sent to many on his email list, which exposed his deep personal feelings about (I think) race and the perfect American dream upbringing. Ever since moving to Florida I have remarked to my husband how incredible it is that we cannot discuss in a friendly atmosphere our political leanings, environmental impact worries and yes, religious beliefs. Yet, when we lived in Manhattan, all these and more were fodder for fabulously intellectual discussions that may never have changed anyone’s mind but caused us to question further and opened windows on future dynamic gatherings – while never, ever, jeopardizing a friendship.

I believe that in some parts of our country, there is no choice or the opportunity to express one’s choice, without disdain or repercussions. I believe there are people – many people – in this country who cannot stomach the thought of a black president, or a woman president while all over the world there are black men and black and white women leading their parties and countries.

I ask myself “why, in this best of all countries, I often bite my tongue and hold back thoughts which would ultimately reveal my true feelings because I am afraid of losing a friend?” When I consider this, I believe those that base their friendships on being able to influence or stop another from expressing their positions, are not truly friends at all.

I believe this world needs openness and tolerance of each others beliefs, whether they are deeply held or just those influenced by recent events. I believe we will stifle our young, and keep this great country from returning to its position as a leader in the arts, science, expressionism, tolerance, and openness if we do not look each squarely in the eye and say, “let us talk, let us debate, let us vote our own ways . . . without losing sight of the freedoms that got us here today.”

I never thought I would have to say this, I always felt all this to be my right. But I am driven today after too many encounters with those whose company I truly enjoy, to say “we live without bonds because we were founded on the basis of free thinking. Let us continue as friends, let us consider each other’s views, but never forfeit our inalienable right to think, and vote and act as we wish . . . because we do not agree.”

This I believe.