January 6, 2004 > Editorial
It's About Our Rights
Our work is cut out for us this year. We begin an election year with all the hoopla that goes with it. Rhetoric will be thick and claims will fill the air but beyond the sparkle and glamour of campaigns, the stark reality is that they are designed for only one thing...to get your vote. This is an important concept since, as we see in many places around the world (and sometimes within our borders as well), the concept of providing a voice for the electorate is not universally accepted. In place of votes, come bombs and terror. Frank discussion is couched in diatribes designed to obscure, confuse and control. In our own little corner of the United States of America, we are blessed with an infusion of cultures and differing ideas of how to live, work, shop and communicate. Along with this blessing comes the challenge to understand, moderate our views and resist stereotypes, especially when faced with disturbing images from around the world. This is easier said than done. Turmoil is often at the heart of creativity and growth (generational and intercultural), yet it can be destructive as well. The Tri-Cities not only must contend with issues of growth, development and a sagging economy, we also have to figure out how to incorporate active participation by all segments of our community.
One common factor for everyone living here is the structure of government. We are all subject to the government and laws of our cities and public agencies. It is here that people can accept, change or reject concepts, plans and rules of behavior. In this issue of TCV, I have printed the full text of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 during this nation's massive civil rights upheaval. His ideas were not black, white or brown. They were designed to promulgate the idea of a fair shake for everyone. That people should be judged for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
An article in this issue of TCV deals with another civil rights battle involving a Muslim Chaplain accused of serious crimes, yet denied due process of our laws. Have we progressed since 1963? These things can be dismissed as happening to someone else and none of our business, but such thoughts have a way of spinning backwards to harm those who believe they are out of reach. The events of September 11th and subsequent problems have demonstrated the easy reach of all who desire to leap oceans and continents for whatever purpose, good or evil. The protection we have is information and participation. Isolationism, whether personal, local, regional or national can no longer hold such forces at bay.
All segments of our community - all colors, creeds and religions - have a duty to become involved in the political process. There is no excuse for those who are eligible and do not register and use their right and obligation to vote. This election season, TCV will again interview candidates and ask questions of prior voting records and future plans. It is critical for our community that all eligible voters - and everyone else for that matter - become involved with the process. We can either use it or lose it! I am not about to lose it without a fight. Will you do the same?