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Free dom?

By Will M. Baptist III

Listening to George W. Bush's inauguration speech I found a lot of words and expressions that touched me deeply. Words like freedom and justice, along with ending tyranny all over the world were among the few themes he touched on repeatedly. This speaks to what I believe most people across the globe want: freedom.


"There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom . " - George W. Bush, Inauguration 2005


I'm not quite sure of what he was talking about, but his inauguration speech seemed to be about spreading freedom. Since he did not really define what freedom specifically meant to him, I will not assume that our definitions are the same.


"There is a road to freedom. Its milestones are Obedience, Endeavor, Honesty, Order, Cleanliness, Sobriety, Truthfulness, Sacrifice, and love of the Fatherland." Adolf Hitler


Anyone can talk about freedom or peace for that matter, but ones actions are how a true judgment can be made. I define freedom as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Life is about more than just surviving. Today we find people having difficulty affording their medicines, students and teachers not having the proper supplies or support to transfer needed skills for our youth to live healthy and prosperous lives, and families denied heat and hot water in the winter months because they can't afford it, speaks to where our "decision makers'" priorities lie.

April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church , New York City, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said," I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

In the riches country in the world, where you are not guaranteed the liberty of a living wage job or healthcare but can find "illegal" drugs on most corners in America . When is more affordable to smoke crack than to buy medicine there is a problem. This is a county where a company is free to own radio stations and prisons. Over 2 million people are now locked up in American jails and prisons; the United States has the highest percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country in the world.

According to a Justice Department report released in July 2003, the U.S. prison population surpassed 2 million for the first time-2,166,260 people were incarcerated in prisons or jails at the end of 2002 (the latest statistics available). Since 1990, the U.S. prison population, already the world's largest, has almost doubled.

About two-thirds of prisoners were in state and federal prisons, while the rest were in local jails. The report does not count all juvenile offenders, but noted that there were more than 10,000 inmates under age 18 held in adult prisons and jails in 2002. The number of women in federal and state prisons reached 97,491.

About 10.4% of the entire African-American male population in the United States aged 25 to 29 was incarcerated, by far the largest racial or ethnic group-by comparison, 2.4% of Hispanic men and 1.2% of white men in that same age group were incarcerated. According to a report by the Justice Policy Institute in 2002, the number of black men in prison has grown to five times the rate it was twenty years ago. Today, more African-American men are in jail than in college. In 2000 there were 791,600 black men in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college. In 1980, there were 143,000 black men in prison and 463,700 enrolled in college. w

I would like to see my tax dollars go toward social uplift by adding and training more teachers, building better schools by upgrading all facilities and communities. Smaller class sizes. Free national healthcare for all. I could go on but until we really discuss what our options are we will continue to get more of the same talk. Many people might think that my visions of a just society are impractical and probably never going to happen, but if we look at history we find that the same sentiments were said about slavery and women's right to vote. The only way we can have a just country or world is if We the People change it!

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