Know your rights

Right: a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.

Duty: a moral or legal obligation; a responsibility; or a task or action that someone is required to perform.

Opportunity: a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.

Apathy: lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern.

All of the above definitions were online for free. It is nice this is available for free in this free country in which we live.

One of the other nice things about this country and democratic society, in which we live, is the fact we have many freedoms granted to us and protected by the law. In fact, in lieu of Constitution Day on Wednesday, it is good to recall the very foundations upon which our Union, our Republic, was founded.

The first 10 amendments to our U.S. Constitution are titled “The Bill of Rights.” In the aforementioned definition of “right,” we understand that this is a legal or moral entitlement. As Americans, we all profess these “rights,” but often, far too often, we surrender our rights. Just in time for elections.

Most voting-qualified Americans just freely give away their voting rights. Even a non-vote is protected by our Constitution. Statistics have proven that in off-presidential election years, not many people will go to the poll to dutifully perform their right, their responsibility and their obligation.

While America still remains a democracy, my household is not. In our home, the dad and mom have votes that outweigh the votes of the children. When there is a tie, the dog usually votes along with the hand that feeds it. When the question is posed in our house, “Where would you like to go and have dinner?” and I choose not to cast a vote, I could possibly end up at a fast-food place that was not my preference. I must suffer the consequence of my apathy. I may think and act more carefully if given another opportunity.

Likewise, if I choose not to vote in an election, I must live with the possibility of a candidate, whom I did not want, winning the election. I might consider that a loss for myself and my candidate. And I lose the right to vocalize my displeasure. However, by exercising my moral and legal obligation, or duty, I retain the right to freely gripe about it until the next election.

I wish to remind qualified voters the opportunity exists to be heard. We have the right to be heard, and we have the obligation and duty to be heard. While we don’t always get the expected result, we can rest a little easier knowing we at least played our part in the protected process. There are people all over the world who risk losing their thumbs, arms and lives for the very opportunity that we in America squander.

I will take this one step further. Soon, I will have the right, the duty and obligation to vote for my future in my place of employment as well. I may not like or agree with the final outcome of the vote, but I have been given the opportunity to take part in the process. When one is faced with such opportunities, it is best to check the apathy at the door and continue to preserve the right, lest it be taken away unaware.

Julie Antis lives in Johnstown.