Charles Rehn - Democrat for President 2004

A Conversation With America
Questions That Must Be Answered
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Activists & Dissidents

"Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it."
-- Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"

I find it interesting that our history is filled with people who are heralded for their remarks concerning the rights and responsibilities of citizens to speak out against their government, its policies, or injustices that are left unchecked, but when you do it, you're labeled as one of those dangerous activists or dissidents, those evil people who erode the fabric of our society... of course, I'm being sarcastic.

I'm an activist and dissident and proud of it.  I write to my representatives and tell them when I think they're wrong, Sometimes, I thank them for their stands on issues. Sometimes, I chew them out. It's not a privilege. It's a right and a responsibility.

When you vote, you are an activist.

Every politician in the history of the world is an activist or dissident, otherwise they wouldn't be a politician.  If they thought that everything was hunky-dory and that their presence in national affairs would not make a positive difference, they'd just stay home and play with the kids.

The label of activist or dissident is distinguished in a few ways, based the people in the authoritative position to set the agenda, or baseline, for any given discussion. An activist is generally considered anyone who organizes or participates in movements to alter "the staus quo" - the way things are being done and the policies of an administration.

The most interesting thing to realize about the words activist and dissident, is the fact that in the dictionary, there is no positive or negative connotation attached to the words. Moral judgement has been affixed through propaganda to silence the voice of those who oppose or would provide evidence against the agenda of those in a position to control the dissemination of information through ownership, overt or covert collusion and coercion.

Some of the world's most honored and revered people were activists and dissidents. Nelson Mandela was jailed for terrorism. Martin Luther King was called a "plant" by the communists to disrupt America. The list of dissident heroes, as well as non-dissident heroes, goes on and on and on.

For me, I disagreed with the war in Iraq for certain reasons, but I could easily have been at the protests against the war as well as the demonstrations supporting the troops (not the war, the troops). And I believed it was great to see both sides speak out in reasonably responsible ways.

Activism and dissidence are, to me, brilliant reminders that it really does "take all kinds" in order to generate a collectve wisdom, develop legislaton that is not subject to incidental or conflicted interpretation, and generations that reconcile and pass along the best of what the past has to offer as a foundation for Democracy, and the tools of empowerment and ingenuity with which to cause a future ever more closely resembling the vision of Democracy. That is not caused by the introspection of a leader or king, it is the natural product of candid interaction, and the best efforts of every kind and every interest of people.

I've often thought that, as president, it would be my desire to have all those who demonstrate and protest know that I heard and understood their positions.

Then I consider the possibility of a country where the citizens do not feel compelled to go to such extremes. That is the goal, the contribution of activism and dissidence.

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(C) 2002,2003-2009 Charles Rehn Jr IV  All rights reserved