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Dissent born of deep love for America

Julius Ward tells the story of a Senate chaplain who, when asked, “Do you pray for the senators?” replied, “No, I look at the senators and pray for the country.”

Yes, the country. I have roamed this country, towns, cities, alleys, top-to-bottom for 40 years. I’ve slept in its rains, leaned into its winters, lived poor, and grazed off the fat of the land. I love my country, with a deep and abiding passion. And I love it more now, because of what we are losing – basic rights and freedoms which I grew up taking for granted: freedom of speech and assembly, freedom from illegal search and seizure, the right to legal counsel, the right to privacy, and so much more.

We can no longer take these rights for granted. They are sadly being eroded by an administration pushing us into a morass of paranoia, which can only be compared to the blacklisting days of Joe McCarthy. It has been my lifelong conviction that the rights we enjoyed were not granted to us by the State, nor can the State take them away. We were born with them, like our eyes and our ears. We all know that, don’t we?



An organizer named Campbell told me once, “Freedom is something you assume. Then you wait for someone to try and take it away from you. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free.”

Well, the waiting is over. It’s time to resist. It’s time for all of us to act in the sure knowledge that the most American thing we can do is to dissent. And the most un-American thing is to stifle dissent.




By dissenting, those of us working with the Peace Center of Nevada County, as well as the hundreds of thousands organizing from coast to coast, are acting out of a deep love for our country. Mark Twain said, “Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.”

Our Peace Center is committed to creating a social climate where nonviolence is a virtue. But time is running out. Please join with us in building a world of peace and freedom for all of us. And join us on board the Peace-Train Buses.

Utah Phillips is a folk singer, raconteur and union organizer. He resides in Nevada City and is a member of Peace Center of Nevada County.


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