To The Daily Sun,
They say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but what about freedom? What was freedom to those that colonized the New World in comparison to the freedom experienced by those that were stewards of the land before white man arrived? The freedoms we experience today are not the same freedoms our parents or grandparents might have fought for. We’ve seen the interpretation of freedom change over generations, but we are experiencing an unprecedented threat to our basic natural freedoms with the current administration. Freedoms fought for by women, labor, LGBTQ and civil rights movements may become a thing of the past for the next four years — or more. These hard-fought freedoms have been chipped away at by corporate elitists and governments that serve them prior to Trump becoming president, but his presidency is proving to be the most racist, elitist, homophobic, misogynistic, corporate-stacked administration this nation has ever seen.
Freedom may have different applications to different people, but freedom is basically the state of being free, civil liberty; the right to enjoy all privileges or rights of citizenship. Essentially, the power to exercise choice and make decisions; autonomy; self-determination. If you haven’t noticed, we ain’t free.
Sure, we’re are free to roam around within the “cage of freedom” defined by special interests, secured by governments and enforced by the courts. Restricted to the “free speech zone” when words of truth, inspiration and justice are spoken, but manipulating social propaganda is all over the nightly news. Carry signs of protest downtown, but don’t take any real action that generates rights-protecting systemic change. Go ahead and write countless pleading letters to elected officials and appointed positions that have been bought and paid for by the very industries that are the subject of our pleading letters; you’ll get a formulated response if you get any response at all.
What about whether our food is genetically engineered or not, watered with frack waste, or fertilized with pharmaceutical-laden human waste? What about knowing if the meat available in the store is from some country with absolutely no safety regulations or whether there is mercury in the seafood? This is the kind of information that seriously affects our choices because it motivates our decision to spend or not to spend. These limitations on our freedom to know and therefore our freedom to choose, are limited because they affect the bottom line profits of industry. Freedom isn’t really freedom when it is confined to a set of limitations defined by those profiting from the limitations defining our choices.
Food isn’t the only area our freedom to decide is limited. When an industry is seeking to use a natural resource in our community, who decides whether or not that industry is a good idea for the area? These decisions are made by state and federal governmental agencies with appointed committee members considered experts in the fields of the industry they represent. The real experts that truly know how a project is going to affect the area are those most affected by the project — real human beings that live in those communities and the ecosystems that will be the subject of the development.
We have political party limitations as well. You “get to choose” between a Democrat or a Republican — if you want to have any part in the political process. If you are an Independent or support the Green Party, well, that’s nice, but they don’t get the media coverage or the big funders backing their cause so in essence, they don’t get to participate and therefore, neither do you. Where is the freedom to simply run for an office as an elected official based on what you actually believe and what you really plan to do for those you represent? Where is the freedom for voters to have a legitimate process to choose and elect who represents them?
We should all be alarmed about how future administrations will define our future “freedoms.” Trump is a corporate elitist who is now in a powerful position to serve the corporate elite in ways no other president has been positioned to do. Now, more than ever, we need to stop spinning our wheels in a system designed by corporate elites to deny We the People our freedom to decide what happens where we live. We need a people’s movement that will mobilize across party lines, across social divides, across regional separations that will stop giving consent to illegitimate and unjust laws that serve the corporate-state.
How often have we heard the question about whether the Democrats in Washington will work with the Republicans, or the other way around, or whether they will fight each other every step of the way? It is time we fight freedom-robbing policies every step of the way at the local level. Stop giving consent to this elitist-serving system that stands in the way of our freedom to create local sustainable energy, transportation solutions, sustainable agricultural systems, social acceptance, free and fair elections, livable wages, protections for ecosystems and local self-governance. Stop accepting restrictions of freedom as for the “greater good.” The greater good of whom? The local community, or the corporate industries that will profit from using the community as a human experiment or a resource colony? We must challenge illegitimate and unjust laws by returning to the very freedoms the revolutionaries fought for — our freedom to exercise local self-governance.
Hundreds of communities across the nation have begun to dismantle illegitimate and unjust laws by partnering with Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to draft new local laws that include a Community Bills of Rights recognizing the right to local community self-government and elevating the rights of people, communities and nature above the “rights” currently claimed by corporations. These communities aren’t waiting for permission to exercise their inherent and unalienable right to self-govern, they are exercising their freedom to create local laws that protect the health, safety and welfare of both human and natural communities because our very survival depends upon it. Freedom to make choices about social acceptance, economic, political, or environmental sustainability is already ours. We just need to believe it and act on it. Now is the time.
NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) partners with CELDF to build CELDF’s organizing framework to the state level with a constitutional amendment to recognize, secure and protect community rights. Learn more at www.nhcommunityrights.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NHCRN Board of Directors