I love it when people feel so strongly about something that they bother to make posters and meet up to chant and wave and march and otherwise make a ruckus.
It means they are willing to put not only their views out there but their individual selves as well. It means they want action. It means they care.
The great thing about protests – besides the fact that they can bring about change – is that they are proof of the freedoms we have as citizens of the United States.
The freedom to assemble. The freedom to petition the government.
We are so accustomed to these freedoms and to seeing people utilize them that we sometimes forget that there are places in the world where even a peaceful protester can end up in jail.
But just last month I visited a country where until a generation ago, people were sent to Siberia – literally – for protesting.
And then just this week I read a book about people who were beat – literally – for listening to the wrong channel on the radio or trying to go someplace the government didn’t want them to go.
Protests weren’t an option.
The Fourth of July is a great time for remembering again how being citizens of the United States has given us options many in the world don’t have.
And how having those options gives us responsibilities.
The debacle of the current immigration upheaval in the name of reform is more than tragic in what it is doing to families. And what it tells about our leaders.
It is also a reminder that our country is still a place people come for refuge, even when it isn’t as welcoming as it should be.
And then come more protests.
As they should.
My role in a number of protests over the past eight years has been to observe, to interview the protesters, to photograph the action, to talk with those who have opposing views, and then to share the opinions of all parties with those who may not have been able to be there and observe first-hand.
Which brings me to another freedom: Freedom of the press.
Which brings me to another reason America offers its citizens so much. Because they are informed – not just about what the government wants them to know, but about what the government is doing and might not want us to know, and what candidates are doing and what businesses are doing and what schools are doing and what it all might mean.
I’ve covered protests demanding cleaner air, more money for education, more protections for animals, more respect for the environment.
I love to know that someone cares. And I love to know I can write about it. And I love knowing that if it’s not me writing about it, someone else will and I can read about it.
All of us who are free need to keep reading. And keep protesting.
And keep caring.