Saturday, September 19, 2015

We protect our own rights when we defend the rights of others

When I immigrated to Canada in October 2005 from the Southern US state of Alabama; it was a big surprise to me to discover that Canadians also exhibit an adulation of soldiers and the military; it was not exactly what I thought of as a Canadian trait. People start wearing the poppy two weeks before Remembrance Day and by November 11th, you will hardly pass someone on the street without a poppy on their coat.  Unlike Americans, though, Canadians don't take pride in military power, with Canadians, it's more of an agreement that "we owe our freedoms to those who fought and died in all of Canada's wars ... yada yada."

I do believe Canadians give too much credit to the state and the soldiers who serve that state for the freedoms we enjoy. Not enough credit to ourselves; we're the ones who are most responsible for defending our rights/freedoms ... soldiers are delegated the responsibility for defending the nation's sovereignty and security, which is a lesser role, a less important role, even if more hazardous.  Soldiers will do what they are told, even if those actions are morally wrong or illegal, always, with shockingly few exceptions. 

It is true that we grant ourselves our freedoms in our laws and we protect them in our courts; but more importantly, we protect and defend our freedoms when we exercise them, and guard them when we insist that those freedoms be granted to others, even those with whom we strongly disagree.

We defend our own rights, liberties, and dignity when we protect the rights of those who we may not even feel deserve them, especially those who are powerless to defend themselves. Canadians: remember?  Americans: remember?

I'm using one of my Charter or Bill of Rights freedoms right now; did you recognize that fact? So, what would you really be attacking if you attacked me, personally, for my opinions or beliefs, or if you tried to intimidate me into silence, as others have?

Inclusive Freedom. Expansive Freedom. That is the Canadian idea of Liberty.
The idea that the liberty of all is enhanced when new freedoms are granted to
Justin Trudeau, March 9, 2015
In a Speech delivered at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada 

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