With liberty and justice for all

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Should a community be concerned about the issues of liberty and justice? I don't live in Harrisburg, so why should I care about their crime problems? My company provides me health insurance, so why should I care about the health-care debate? Phinizy Swamp is for snakes and alligators, so why should I care about that boggy environmental issue?

The issues of liberty and justice must not be seen as just generic community concerns that have no face or name, or belong to someone else. The word "community" implies we are all neighbors. When one of our fellow citizens suffers, we all suffer. When one of our fellow citizens is joyful, we all celebrate together. Now that might sound a bit utopian and unrealistic, but this is how it works: with liberty and justice for all."

WE ALL WERE PROUD of our city as we celebrated the success of the ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta. This was community at its best, and we felt good to be called Augustans. There are neighborhoods all over our city that reach out to those in need and champion the less fortunate. There are civic, business, religious, educational and other community leaders who strive to embrace and enhance all facets of our shared society.

"With liberty and justice for all" is a proud conclusion to our national Pledge of Allegiance. May it also be our personal commitment to stand with the fallen, to help mend the broken, to speak for the silent, to weep with survivors and to cheer for the victors. "For all" means everyone. Not just the privileged, the educated, the wealthy, the connected -- "for all," means that every one of us is determined that our community, our Augusta, is a place where liberty and justice is equally shared by every citizen.

For liberty and justice to become hallmarks of our community, we first must become an informed community -- informed about the justice issues that face our common lives. To help us learn about some of these issues, First Baptist Church of Augusta is playing host to a community forum designed not only to educate and edify but also to encourage those who attend to find ways to get involved in responding to a variety of social justice issues.

THIS COMMUNITY forum will provide the opportunity to hear about social justice issues from outstanding panel participants, such as WRDW-TV anchorwoman Meredith Anderson; First Baptist Church of Augusta pastor Dr. Greg DeLoach; Golden Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Mike Firmin; Doctors Hospital CEO Shayne George; Richmond County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Sidney Hatfield; Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church senior pastor Dr. Leslie Holmes; naturalist Dr. Patrick McMillan; WJBF-TV anchorman Brad Means; Augusta Chronicle Editorial Page Editor Mike Ryan; and WRDW-TV anchorman Richard Rogers. These panel members will address the following issues: environment; health care; law and order; media; poverty; and hunger.

"With liberty and justice for all" should not just be a phrase we recite by memory. Do you believe our community should be a place where every citizen is informed and encouraged to get involved in social issues? Should the issue of health care be the concern for all of us? Do we have a moral and ethical mandate to be disturbed about justice?

The next time we say the Pledge of Allegiance, remember that the phrase "with liberty and justice for all" is only true as every citizen is given the liberty to enjoy the benefits of a just society. May it be so for Augusta.

(The writer is associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Augusta.)


WHAT: Community Forum on Liberty and Justice

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 15th, 7 p.m.

WHERE: First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way (in the church sanctuary)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call (706) 733-2236 or go to www.fbcaugusta.org.

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WhippingPost 10/11/09 - 07:08 am
What an excellent article.

What an excellent article. I'd like to add that nothing kills community like the Robin Hood theory. To rob from the rich to give to the poor, you first have to determine who is rich and poor and draw specific line to know who to rob and who to give to. An "us against them" attitude is immediately set up with the line drawing and enforced with the robbing and giving. Community is made up of willing and informed participants. The Robin Hood theory is for the ignorant.

teharper428 10/11/09 - 08:59 am
not everything is about

not everything is about money, whip. I know with your mindset anytime it is mentioned to help a community, you think you're going to lose your precious almighty dollars. Volunteering your time can help a community and it doesn't cost you a dime. Why don't you go listen to the talk and maybe you can find a way to help your community.

Roeschen 10/11/09 - 01:03 pm
How is there justice when I

How is there justice when I worked hard to get an education, sought employment, work hard at my job to earn money for my family and me to only have to "give" it to some low-life who refuses to get an education and refuses to get a job? My husband sacrificed his life for his country. I donate time, money, and effort to my community as well as my country. I have volunteered time at schools to help tutor. Unfortunately, I don't see welfare recipients doing much to better themselves. The old saying is "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" is certainly apt here in the Augusta welfare community.

justus4 10/11/09 - 01:28 pm
Prediction: At this

Prediction: At this well-conceived gathering, someone will state that the current president and his administraion's policies are causing "concern" while other will admit their "fear" of the direction of the country. Some will even mention "taking back our nation" even though the stated goals of the forum is to address local community issues. In fact, this may turn into a Teabaggers night out because the issues stated stems from years of poor leadership and mistrust of governmental agencies being ineffective. An "informed community" requires informed citizens who take responsibility for poor policies, not blaming everyone else. Again, this maybe a good thing but lets see some results first.

disssman 10/11/09 - 04:32 pm
Pastor you are living in

Pastor you are living in dream land if you think justice is for all. Why even our elected officials know the difference between who pays and who plays. The reason our justice system is broken is because we don't send common ordinary people to our halls of justivce to represent us as peers. No we continue to elect good old boy lawyers for that task and they are the experts at writting laws that very few citizens can read and comprehend, and we are bound to those laws forever.

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