Monday, July 03, 2006

230 Years: In Observance of our Freedoms


230 Years: In Observance of our Freedoms

Say what you will about any number of key issues of our time -- Iraq, terrorism, race relations, battered women, equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, AIDS, government corruption and corporate abuses, just to name a few -- but it's very easy to wonder whether we still have a voice in today's society. Yet, through the magic of theatre, every one of these major issues and many, many more are being forcefully addressed. As a result of that essential freedom of speech, and the dialogue it fosters, our society is far richer.

Say what you will, indeed -- the fact is that no matter who is in the White House or running our government, we Americans remain free to say whatever we want as one of our inalienable rights. On the eve of the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I'm proud of the ideals set forth by Thomas Jefferson in that historic document with revolutionary ideals. Where else, but America, would our founders enshrine the notion of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?

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.

Every day, we must work hard to protect our freedoms. The threat comes every bit as much from those within our country who would seek to chip away at them as those "enemies" who rail against our unique liberties. Sadly, too many Americans take our freedom for granted all too often.

Thankfully, the arts as an entity is not so complacent. It helps to serve as one of the most vital fronts for protecting our freedoms. We may not always agree with the messages art tries to convey, but that's the inherent beauty of a democracy. I shudder to think what our nation would be like if we were all required to think the same thing or only avail ourselves of government-approved press, literature, theatre, movies and television.

The arts do more than just entertain, they propel us further as a people. And, in this time of self-doubt for so many, the arts continue to make me proud to be an American even if some of our leaders may occasionally shake that pride. We've faced many tough challenges before, but we've always overcome them with direct inspiration from the arts. I believe that the arts -- including the theatre -- will continue to inspire, if not lead us, but only if we continue to empower it to speak freely.

Happy birthday, America!

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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