Ode to the First Amendment

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“The test of democracy is freedom of criticism.”  – David Ben-Gurion

And lest we forget:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
– First Amendment, United States Constitution

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to speak openly – without government restraint. It guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION:  It  forbids  Congress from promoting one religion over another and from restricting an individual’s religious practices. Regardless of the religion. Any and all religion.

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION:  It  prohibits  Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.  Censorship is therefore prohibited.

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY:  It  prohibits  Congress from  denying the rights of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.  The power of peaceful protest is our democratic right.

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Photo (of graffiti) via flickr.com.

Photo (of press) by Glenn Fawcett [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Bookworms of the World, Unite!

read-books

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

― Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

Books, glorious books!  They are scattered around my house and I carry one in my bag, wherever I go.  When I’m not reading a book, I’m writing one.

Today, the day that both Miguel de Cervantes  and William Shakespeare died (two of several literary giants who died on April 23rd, 1616), is World Book and Copyright Day — created by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to pay worldwide tribute to books and to the authors who write them.

Introducing the world of books to someone — a child, or even an adult — is like opening a locked door, behind which lies the path to knowledge and empowerment.

“I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me.  I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life.  As I see it today, the ability to read awoke in me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”    

Malcolm X

Today, in this second decade of the new Millennium, our busy lives often preclude us from taking time out to read a book.  Make the time… please.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of  reading.  It exercises the mind, stretches the imagination, opens up new worlds and is far more enthralling and entertaining than a television sitcom (in my opinion). 

If you can’t spare the time, carry a book in your bag – just in case. Rather than complain about the long wait time in the dentist’s office or at the airport, just open up a book and read.  Before you know it, the plane will be boarding or the dental hygienist will be beckoning you to come on in.

As for me, I concur with the late President Thomas Jefferson, who said (simply and succinctly):

“I cannot live without books.”

Image via worksmartlivesmart.com.