All Maine Matters

March 2006



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Freedom of Thought?
By Joseph Nugent III

A follow up to Is this still the Land of the Free from last month's issue. I had what I considered to be a really neat conversation with a young mother and her son back in January. It was as eye opening for me as it was confirming. Like many families in America today this family is having to deal with a separation due to one parent's work in the country presently known as Iraq. How challenging or worrisome a separation like that must be, only someone who is affected by it can truly know. But what was interesting to me is that while the son's mother was telling me about her husband's work and the concern she has for him despite assurances of his safety, her young son politely spoke with the surety and confidence that comes from growing up in a loving home, "But if we don't want him for President anymore, we can vote him out, and end the war," he said looking up at me, and hanging on to a door knob twisting both it and his body as any normal eight or nine year old boy might do.

I have to tell you how this conversation made my day. This article isn't to proselytize, for or against the war in Iraq, but to celebrate America, and the freedom to think that we still have in America even if you're an eight year old. Despite what the television, or Maine stream print newspaper tells us, this youngster was able to express exactly why for the time being it is still great to be an American. We form our own opinions, and people have died for our right to vote. We can express our opinions to others. We can go to church, or not. We can believe what we want to, or not. We can discuss our opinions with our neighbors on the sidewalk, in the coffee shop, at a town meeting, or in some newspapers, like here at All Maine Matters, where people who pick up this kind of information are someone who cares to keep themselves informed. As Americans, we're lucky because we can even change our mind, about war, about leaders, about the media. And, at least for now, we can still be the change we'd like to see.

But our freedoms are being eroded, and a media that is now more and more in the hands of a small corporately owned elite has far more ability to shape your opinion, twist their stories, and tell you and your children what to believe than ever before. As Americans we have to stay vigilant, remain informed, and ever on guard for if it is us that is shaping our ideas or decisions, or not. The power of the media in a small collective, is a concern for us all. Without free news outlets, there may not be many free thinkers, true leaders, or smart as a whip eight year olds who want their
Dad to come home from Iraq, and do so soon.

I was grateful for this conversation because it reminded me of how important a role, a mother can play in raising her children, encouraging them to think, to read, to think, and to express. It reminded me how my own mother did that, and how powerful those conversations were. America is a country built on leadership. We encouraged other nations to give us their tired, their hungry, and their poor. We made a place, not intended to work them like slaves, but a place to give freedom where they could work and enjoy the freedoms of life, liberty, property, and to pursue happiness. But today we are a nation under attack. We are not only under attack because of a war against fear, but we are a nation under attack because we've allowed fear to dictate how we live and how we think. We are a nation under attack against thought, our ability to express, and more importantly a war against our own wiillingness to think outside the box. I'm not sure this war is being fought against us as much by terrorists as it is by ourselves, and by corporate entities.

If you don't think I'm correct them do a little research on who owns the newspapers who form public opinion in Maine. Who are they owned by, and who owns them? Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican you you'll find more and more that these are large corporately owned media companies who's interests cross state lines, and even cross the nation. Laws have been passed not very long ago to maximize investment opportunity from Wall Street to help corporations acquire smaller opinions, I mean media companies, and bring them into the fold or larger opinions, I mean conglomerates. These type of companies now exist under more relaxed rules of how many media segments a company or conglomerate can own. America, a nation of free thinkers, used to regulate, how many newspapers, radio stations, magazines, or television news outlets a company could own in given markets But watch out because these regulations have been relaxed and perhaps without you knowing it. Your ability to glean the information necessary to form your own opinion has come under attack. Have things been changing in your opinion? Is it just a generation gap, or are people thinking differently? Are the reasons, and the causes healthy in your opinion? Is America still the place, you want it to be? More importantly, will America, or Maine for that matter, remain the place you want it to be? Will your children be able to make it their own, or will it be a place that is an America that someone else
makes it for them to be?

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this; staying informed is one of the responsibilities that we all have as an American. Thank you for reading, contributing, or advertising in All Maine Matters. It's papers like this that help keep America free.

Joseph Nugent is a 30-something transplant to Maine, who moved here because Maine seemed like a place where we were still free. He was fortunate to receive, an education at a school that encouraged discerning and free thought, and have a Mom who encouraged him to seek and know truth. This penchant has had occasion to get him into trouble, but he's still proud to be an American, and always open to ways to keeping America the free place it was meant to be. He can be reached at - suggestions for further research, articles, or even comments and corrections are welcomed
and appreciated.

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