As Americans we are better than this
Published 5:39 pm Friday, May 24, 2019
One of the comments I get from readers in the community pertains to some of the columnists who appear on our editorial page throughout the week. There are those who like one, don’t like another. There are those who really don’t like, but really like another. And, for the most part, those likes and dislikes fall along political lines.
As this reader is telling me their thoughts about this columnist or that one, this opinion piece or that one, all I can think to myself is “this is perfect.”
You see, the editorial page — or the opinion page — in a newspaper is exactly that. It is for those with views to share their thoughts and opinions about topics affecting our community, our state, our nation or world.
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And, if both sides of a political divide like or dislike some of the columnists who appear on our pages throughout the week, then we must be doing a good job of sharing views from many sides of thought.
I used to joke that I was a moderate conservative liberal with libertarian leanings. It was a way to describe my thoughts on topics without saying that I kind of jump from one side of the aisle to the other, depending on the topic. It also keeps me from having to have the conversation of which party or candidate I support, not that it should matter.
Our country was built on the premise that each person has a right to their opinions, a right to thoughts and a right to share those thoughts.
As a journalist whose very career is protected by the First Amendment, it would be hypocritical for me to stifle anyone’s opinion, or work to prevent them from sharing it. It is also equally as hypocritical for us as Americans to criticize anyone for having or making an opinion.
This freedom, like the others we hold so dear, are firmly placed on the backs of patriots and supported and defended by those who have served in the military and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
That is why each Memorial Day is a crucial time each year for our country.
Not only is it a time to reflect on those we have lost and what they have given, but also to remember what they sacrificed for.
The Bill of Rights and the Constitution are a rarity in this world.
They provide for a system of government that protects the individual and encourages a society that is free.
And it is that freedom of choice, freedom of self-destiny, that many have died to protect.
There are opinions we publish that I firmly disagree with. But, I defend and respect the right to their opinion.
There are public comments and political decisions that burn me to my core, but I defend their rights to those comments and decisions.
We have become a country incapable of civil, public debate, which is a disgrace to those who founded our country and those who have defended it.
We owe them more than that.
Yes, this weekend is the start of summer vacation for many, time for family and relaxation, but it is also a time to reflect and take inventory of those freedoms that have been provided us by those who have defended them.
Let us get back to a time when opinions were just that, opinions. Let us get back to a time when we can disagree and not tear down. Let us get back to a time when we realized as Americans, that — as President Kennedy once said — there is far more that unites us than divides us.
Tim Reeves is editor of The Vicksburg Post. His column appears each weekend. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.