Value Your Rights this Independence Day

American Flag by joewcampbell from Flickr

American Flag by joewcampbell from Flickr

Happy Independence Day! I hope you all enjoy your holiday with your loved ones. While you’re enjoying your barbecues and fireworks, please take a minute to reflect on the reason we have this holiday – our nation’s founding fathers were unhappy with their government and so they stood up for themselves.

I’m so grateful that we live in a democracy that gives us the freedom of speech. Thanks to the social media platforms, online petitions, and blogging, it’s easier than ever to be heard. Now more than ever Joe Average has a voice that can reach millions.

Of course the freedom of speech comes with the responsibility of accepting the consequences of our statements. If you have something to say, you better be ready and willing to own it in every arena and face the backlash (good and bad) that may result.  We don’t have the right to be forgotten and everything we say online is permanently saved on a server somewhere. So before you make a post or send a text, be ready to have it follow you around for the rest of your life. I constantly tell people my two rules of thumb.

  • Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t put on the front page of the newspaper.
  • Assume everything you post will be seen by your best friend, worst enemy, boss, and mother. If you don’t want one of them to see something, don’t post it.

Our democracy not only gives us the ability to voice our opinions, but it also gives us an obligation to do so when it comes to our leaders. They work for us and the good politicians respect the fact that they their job is to be of service, and it’s a temporary position. If there is an issue that you care about, please write, call, or tweet at your elected official. Go to their town hall meetings and coffee meet-ups. Your opinion matters and it does make a difference.

I regularly contact my representatives and tell them how I want them to vote on bills. I question candidates about their platforms. Sometimes I tell them why I think their views are wrong or what it will take to get my vote. I’ve told my fair share of candidates who are pro-business by against same-sex marriage that they should support same-sex marriage, regardless of their views about homosexuality, because marriage is good for the economy. People spend a ton of money on weddings.

And when your representatives vote in a way that reflects your views, thank them. They work for us and they need to be told when they’re doing a good job.

Happy Fourth of July everyone! And a special thank you to everyone who has served and is currently serving in our military to keep us safe and free.

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