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Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society... Law Day 2019
You know, some people have it wrong
when it comes to respect for the law and
celebrating freedom by practicing it.
They think it's too difficult. But taking
on personal responsibility, ownership
and accountability, and being a good,
empathetic citizen is actually easy far
more often than it is not. It's liberating.
Sometimes, as in the case of the Mummers,
it's actually fun.

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So how can we live a liberating life
and enjoy and preserve the freedoms we
celebrate in the parade today and the
courtroom this hour?
Here are some suggestions.
Let's become more aware of our fears
and prejudices.
Let's stop being snarky. Sarcasm has
its place, but the incessant sniping has
created a handcuffing noise in the world.
Let's be civil. It starts with simplest things.

Yes, there are times when that means
admitting mistakes, or not taking the
easier path, but the truth can be liberating.
Say something nice.
Trying to help your neighbor and people
Drive more courteously, even when
you don't even know who need help does
the other driver doesn't. Model good
set you free.
behavior. Be polite at the drive through
The 1st Amendment protects from
window when suggesting that the order is
government intrusion or regulation,
several individual and association
Think about how we can support
freedoms, from the right to worship as
freedom...freedom of speech, freedom of
you see fit, to freedom of speech, of the
assembly, even if we are uncomfortable
press, and to the right to assemble and
or not understanding of another's speech
to petition for grievances. These are not
or gathering. We can defend the right to
unlimited, absolute freedoms. So, there
assemble as long as the assembly does
are exceptions. Most of these exceptions
not incite violence or truly infringe on
are common sense. Some are gray areas
the rights of others. The Mummers have
to many of us.
a right to assemble, but they also have a
By the way, there are other
amendments that have been interpreted as
Say Thank You.
working in concert with and supporting
Say thank to the person who holds
the 1st...the 5th and 14th, for example.
Check them out. Let's celebrate them, too. open the door, or lets you go in line ahead
of them.
May I suggest that in the present day
Say thank you to the teller and the
we have several problems threatening
mechanic, the attorney and the teacher.
freedom of speech, expression, press, and
Support education everywhere.
Teachers need to be held accountable,
A heightened polarization that says
but good teachers, which is most of them,
that in any given moment, I would love to
deserve better pay and more support
have your freedom of expression blocked,
in other ways. Many times the failures
your news channel blocked, shut down,
blamed on teachers are actually due to
intimidated...but don't touch mine.
forces outside the classroom.
There are the blurred lines of
Say thank you to those who serve in
traditional journalism and social media.
uniform, but we can thank them, too, in
There is a relentless, steady, numbing
more profound ways: In what we pay, the
march toward the loss of freedoms by
conditions they work in, their sometimes
the normalization of bad behavior, harsh
unique health concerns, and the decisions
verbal attacks, obfuscation in expression,
we make in the first place to put them in
and the triumph of cleverness over what
danger. Yes, they signed up for it, but it
is right. There is a similar or complicit
is a contract. That contract does not say
march driven by fear.
it is okay that we play in ignorance while
There is the evolving, shifting ground
others die, or while their families struggle
of community standards and, as part of
emotionally and financially.
that, the difficulty of knowing in an honest,
Support, and often that means tolerate,
freedom-loving way when what was right
the media and the press. The media do
a generation ago is not today.

12 | Summer 2019

some things wrong; many things that are
wrong are due to market forces, accidental
error or ignorance, and sometimes bias,
including unconscious bias. But, the media
and the press are necessary components of
freedom. They are extensions of, part of, a
tool of the freedom of speech which we all
enjoy. Most journalists try to do the right
thing. There are journalists arrested or
who have died doing their jobs around the
world - even here in the U.S. We may not
like what we read or hear, but we find the
truth by taking the first step...listening.
For 40 years... I was a broadcast
journalist...I started when I was 5. (No
snarkiness, please.) Now, I am on the
leadership team at Cabrini University
in Radnor. Cabrini stands for respect
of all individuals, of developing good
citizens with qualities of leadership and
caring for their communities. It's a good
place. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini,
for whom the University is named, asked
this question and it's one I regularly ask
"When we find ourselves on the brink
of eternity, how shall we then desire to
have passed the years of our life?"
You're a 21st century person. So, feel
free to act like it. What does that mean?
It means more than technology and
Actively Listen. Listen to one another.
Say Thank You. Ask, "How can I
Practice being happy. If you believe in
God, - all major religions outline a path
all can agree on to living a happy life -
then start there.
I can suggest some other ways, too.
Practice responsible freedom every day.
You are practicing it now and allowing me
to do so. Thank You.
Choose to smile. It's not in the
Constitution, but I was absent that day or
it would be.
And...Learn to Strut. Strut once a day.
Raise your right arm up over your head.
Grab your jacket or skirt and lift those
legs high if you are able, or just move in
place. But dance.
America is a place that allows us all to
dance. Thank you. *

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