Chiclets and civic freedom

We don’t grow up saying that we are going to have to devote some part of our time to our civic duty. We grow up thinking that we are going to…have a job, we are going to have recreation, we are going to have some time to sleep and rest and make a go of it.

We are not taught that there is something missing here. We have to have, not just our own personal freedoms, you know, we have a lot of personal freedoms, you can buy what you want, eat what you want, get the music you want, travel where you want, date who you want, marry who you want, divorce who you want, and get into a five-thousand pound vehicle and go three blocks to the store to buy Chiclets if you want, that is personal freedom, that is not civic freedom.

Civic freedom comes off of a definition of freedom by Marcus Cicero, the ancient Roman lawyer over two-thousand years ago. He defined freedom the best way I’ve ever heard it. He defined freedom as participation in power, and how much do we have by that definition, at the local city hall, state capital, national capital, world trade organization, NAFTA…what kind of participation?

Societies that call themselves democracies, they can (behave?) ninety-eight percent of the time thinking as long as they have personal freedom, and if you don’t demand civic freedom, that is the real test of a democratic society.–Ralph Nader (UVA, 9/13/2010. Terrible acoustics. If you discern missing or incorrectly transcribed words, let me know)

Civic Freedom

Author: WmX

I stumbled off the track to success in 1968, started chasing shadows that summer. Since then, In addition to farm-laborer and newspaper photographer my occupational incarnations include dishwasher, janitor, retail photo clerk, plumber, HVAC repairman, auto mechanic, CAT scan technologist, computer worker and politico (whatever it takes to buy a camera.) I am on the road to understanding black and white photography.

2 thoughts on “Chiclets and civic freedom”

  1. Hey Bill,

    I’m impressed you got as much of that as you did. Yes, the acoustics were Awful. Ralph, however, was wonderful. He has mellowed over the years and everything he said went right to the heart of a free and enlightened society… active participation by the citizenry, thinking and talking together to shape their own future. All great observations. Ralph stands tall on a bright pedestal in my gallery of heros.
    I kept thinking of Lincoln as Ralph was speaking…. with his somber and devotional turn of mind, the sonorous and carefully deliberate quality of his speaking, the ease born of endless repetition. Both men have a darkness about them, tragedy and belief in equal measure. Obviously I have never seen Lincoln, but he rose to mind repeatedly during Ralph’s talk last night. As if they were the same man, using one voice. It was weird.

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