Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our Rights and Responsibilities as Citizens

Two American journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, have been sentenced to twelve years hard labor in North Korea. Although there is the possibility that they may be pardoned as a result of diplomatic efforts in the weeks and months ahead, we cannot help but think of the terror that must exist within their hearts during this very dark time. We as a nation pray for their safe return.

This situation brings home the important point that we, America, must never again engage in the kind of inhumane treatment of prisoners that has occurred over the past seven years during the Bush/Cheney administration. The North Koreans arrested, charged, tried and convicted these two young women in a space of just a few months. We certainly have the ability to do the same here in the US. Holding detainees without charges for extended periods of time cannot be permitted. We must continue to be a beacon of enlightenment to the world, not a picture of hypocrisy. If people are arrested they should be charged, tried and either convicted or freed within a reasonable time period. No nation has the right to hold foreign nationals in limbo for indefinite periods of time.

Our nation was built to be an example of human rights and tolerance. We must rise to the occasion whether we are living in peace or not. Intolerance gives way to abuses of the kind we have seen over the past seven years. We do not live in isolation and can no longer afford to pretend that we have all the answers.

We the people of the United States have the right to speak our piece. We have the right and the responsibility to speak out when we find the conduct of our government unacceptable. The way we treat those who break our laws is a reflection of who we are within. When our government shames our citizens we must act to correct the situation. No one is exempt. Those who have broken the law must be shunned. They are an embarrassment to us, the people of the United States of America.

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