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Liberty: the most precious possession

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Yes, I know you're reading this after the Fourth of July. I wonder, though, whether people even think about the reasons for the celebration between lighting up that illegal firecracker, taking a trip to the beach or deciding what to put on that hot dog at the family picnic.

I tend to think we've forgot as a society the risky experiment this country represented to its founders and first citizens. Generally we tend to take for granted the freedoms we have today those that were denied to so many over 200 years ago and those that this imperfect republic denied to many years after that.

I'd like to remind you what the holiday is all about. Don't worry, I'll skip all of the reasons why we wanted to form our own nation and I won't correct the funky spelling:

"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. "Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

Isn't it a fascinating concept that government should serve the people and not the other way around?

Too many people seem content today to not only allow their freedoms to become eroded in the name of political expediency and to disengage from the process of governing their town, their state and their nation.

In our nation's history there have always been people who are eager to assume the power that others have abandoned. I know it's a clich , but in order to have a republic such as ours we actually need to be part of it.

Let someone else make the decisions? Well, the result can be seen in the pithy definition of the word "liberty" by another great American, newspaperman and Ambrose Bierce: "Liberty: One of imagination's most precious possessions."

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.