The first session of the Nevada state legislature started on Monday February 7, 2011. To most Nevadans it was just another Monday, and the start of a new work week. What it means to those participating directly in the legislative process depends on what they believe their mission is; representing the people, or serving self-interest.
Republican or Democrat, however, the start of the legislature shouldn’t go unnoticed by we ‘average’ Nevadans. The beginning of the legislative session is the beginning of the process whereby the citizens we elected to represent us and our best interests as Nevadans come together in informed (hopefully) discourse to decide how to support us in creating a state we are proud to call home.
The news has been non-stop about the protests in Egypt; ordinary Egyptian citizens rising up to make change in their country, to take back a government they feel has not represented their best interests. In 2009, Iranian citizens did much the same thing, costing many of them their lives in the process. Yet here in the United States of America, in a country that was founded on protest and revolution against a tyrannical and oppressive government, we act as if freedom tends to itself.
Generally speaking, I believe Americans have become complacent. There are many reasons, I’m sure; one of which is the lack of appropriate education we receive as children in the public schools. American history and American exceptionalism should be taught in school, not down-played. Clark County Public Schools teaches next to nothing about the U.S. Constitution and U.S. history doesn’t seem to exist prior to 1800. How can young people understand the gift that is America if they aren’t taught about the struggle and the tribulations our founders had to overcome to create the greatest-free country in the world?!
Imagine trying to get someone enthused about a cancer survivor’s successful feat in sports by talking only about the fact the person entered a sporting event, without discussing the fact that she first struggled with cancer, then beat it, and then overcame her disability to take the athletic challenge. This country was created after first overcoming a cancer of oppression by a tyrannical king. Many good men, and women, died battling that cancer, but in the end a glorious constitution was created based on god-given freedom, not on man-made ideas.
‘We the People’ are the government in the United States. No other country has the freedom we have, yet our complacency and political correctness dictates we give our freedom away. Just in sitting idly by and not participating in the process, we are allowing an erosion of our rights. It is our choice to participate or not, to celebrate ourselves or not; it is not up to the elected President, or an out-of-touch school board to determine if we should be proud of who we are as a country.
Even the non-violent political and ideological leader of India, Mohandas Gandhi, said about the loss of freedom, “Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.” Ghandi was a man who inspired a country to stand up and resist tyranny. He led the Indian Independence Movement with peaceful civil disobedience, but he did not sit home and allow tyranny to run its course.
History is full of examples of people rallying together to overcome the oppressive hand of a government far exceeding its scope and purpose. The right of revolution has been documented in ancient China during the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256 BC), in the Magna Carta in Medieval Europe, and in our blessed constitution. The Las Vegas Review-Journal and the New York Times carry daily headlines about the revolution brewing in Egypt, as Egyptians protest their current government and demand that President Hosni Mubarak step down.
It is time that Americans and Nevadans specifically, wake up and participate in our government again. As the state legislature begins session this month, it is our duty to pay attention; to create our own discourse with the legislators we have elected to represent us; to share our thoughts, ideas, likes and dislikes with those Assemblymen and Senators we sent to Carson City on our behalf. Government has become a cancer in this country, exceeding its purpose and working to serve only it, and not ‘We the People.’
Let us reignite the revolutionary spirit by getting involved in the process, and claiming our right and duty to be responsible to the state and country in which we live. If not now, when?