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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our Rights And Responsibilities As Members Of A Free And Open Society

I am almost completely pacifistic in my personal philosophy and the way I choose to live my life. I have been pushed beyond what the average person would find tolerable for more than thirty-four years of a life that has lasted forty-nine years to date.

Despite endorsing pacifism except in the most extreme cases of aggression against innocents, I believe that, if we consistently deny a voice to those who are suffering mightily under the yoke of social injustice and economic oppression, we are, in effect, creating the circumstances for violent rebellion and only have ourselves to blame for it.

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

--John Fitzgerald Kennedy

For this reason, let me reiterate one more time why, as a pacifist, I might upload songs and content that are not in complete harmony with my beliefs and personal philosophy. It is for this simple reason that I practice what I preach: We must make a conscious effort to listen to those we are routinely marginalizing without even noticing how this behavior affects those who are suffering due to our silence and inaction.

This is the essence of any kind of privilege, the privilege to ignore the suffering of others and, in many cases, not even be aware of how our behavior is affecting others. In a free society, we must all be held responsible for not taking action when we see injustice happening around us.

It is our solemn duty, as members of a free and open society, to demand justice for the oppressed or face losing our own rights and privileges that result from a society where injustice runs rampant. Without mass participation, how else can we expect a democratic society to work? We must ensure the rights of everyone or face losing what's left of our democracy.

Too many Americans have been lulled into the false belief that living in a free and open society is only about the rights and privileges we receive as members of such a society.

To the contrary, protecting our rights and privileges requires constant vigilance and, when properly understood, entails a sense of enduring responsibility for everyone else in that society, not to mention the global community, as well. To that end, we must safeguard the rights of others to the best of our ability. Each must do his part, large or small, to contribute to the making of a better world.

We must learn to strike a balance between individualism and concern for others in such a society, but we can never neglect everyone else and expect to be legitimately recognized as a responsible citizen. 

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

By denying our brothers and sisters a voice, by denying them their right to be heard, we are, in effect, creating the conditions for our own destruction. 
Those who remain silent, in effect, create the conditions for an unjust society, not just for others, but for themselves, as well.

This fact is inescapable. Sooner or later, injustice will come knocking on everyone's door when our day of reckoning arrives, and even if we manage to get out of life virtually unscathed, we still leave this world fully knowing that those we leave behind will not make it out without being touched by the conditions we've sowed for them all our lives.

Therefore, whenever anyone sees me uploading material that isn't in harmony with my stated pacifist ideology, they can safely assume that it is for this reason that I feel compelled to lend an ear to those who, like myself, have suffered greatly at the hands of the few among us.

You can consider my acts, not only acts of mercy and compassion, but to be in support of those who, out of ignorance, don't know they are denying justice to those who deserve to be heard the most.

It would behoove those in power to pay close attention to those they are oppressing. My hope is that they, too, can be saved from what appears to be our imminent destruction should we fail to recognize where our current mindset is leading us and make the effort a concerted effort to change our ways before it's too late.

"We must lean to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can't afford to ignore their truth any longer, no matter what we think of their way of life. They are what they are for a reason, and it is us who have determined the outcome for them much more than we may care to admit. To ignore this reality hurts our own cause of survival.

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.”

--Martin Luther King, Jr. (Excerpt from “The Other America”)  March 14, 1968