July 1, 2016: ‘As an American,’ we too often take our freedoms for granted, by Patrick Sieben

July 1, 2016 by

Patrick Sieben

Patrick Sieben

As an American, I am fortunate to be living in the greatest country on earth. This is not to say that America is necessarily better than any other country, but rather that as a citizen of this great land, I am afforded more opportunity to appreciate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Consider the following examples, stated only from the heart and not beholden to any form of statistical analysis.

As an American, I can appreciate the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, drafted more than two and a quarter centuries ago and still applicable today. These freedoms are not granted without responsibilities both by us and by our elected officials. As citizens, we must all be vigilant as to the intentions and actions of those elected to public office, holding them accountable to represent the people both respectfully and inclusively.

As an American, I can appreciate the rights guaranteed us in the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. This Bill of Rights allows what the government cannot do to compromise my freedoms. Again, it goes without saying that these rights are offered only by privilege, as upheld by our three branches of government, with that government being installed through democratic process of the people.

As an American, I can appreciate the abundance of goods and services available in a land of plenty. We have so very much that we often take for granted what now seems essential but was considered a few short years ago to be the highest luxury. I am sure many Kansans can remember the summers before air-conditioning, sharing one automobile in each family or the single television that received only the three network broadcast stations. How would these conditions play today?

As an American, I can appreciate the value of accomplishment. This word “value” is not intended to be a measurement of cost but rather as a measurement of return on one’s personal investment of time, talent and personal resources. We have as a people done great things in the areas of invention and innovation, scientific discovery and artistic creativity. Only with a commitment to teaching and learning will this continue to define us as innovators, discoverers and creators.

This list could go on and on describing things to appreciate and even admire, but for now, you, the reader, should consider your own good fortune to be a resident of the United States.

On Monday we will celebrate the reading of our Declaration of Independence. This truly remarkable document states among other things, that we are all “created equal” and “endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” These words are powerful and ominous in that they convey a concept of freedom and responsibility that in 2016 is as true as in 1776.

Give this some thought then as you are enjoying the celebrations about town. We as Americans would do well to consider always how blessed we are and not take for granted our freedoms, opportunities and abundances. Happy Fourth!

 

— Patrick Sieben is the Director of Bands at Cloud County Community College and a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.

 

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