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May 3, 2014

In Your Opinion: Individual shouldn't always come first

This is written in response to two disturbing and hyperbolic letters printed during the past week. 

Dan Rorick’s letter extolled the efforts of Cliven Bundy, the western rancher who has illegally squatted on federal lands and threatened violence when asked to relocate. Bundy has since been discredited as a fringe character but unfortunately his efforts against the rule of law are joined by some. Although eminent domain has been abused at times, it is not, as Mr. Rorick claims, illegitimate “theft.” It is written into the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution, has been upheld by courts for centuries, and is used only to promote a public use and for “just compensation.” It has allowed for the construction of the trans-continental railroad and interstate highways. Rorick is irresponsible to urge citizens to engage in armed resistance. If an act of government is objectionable, we have legal means to fight it, through protesting, use of our judicial system, or the ballot box.

Similarly disturbing was Robert Olejarz’s letter, which equated students volunteering at a Sidney Rotary pancake breakfast with collectivism, statism and dictatorship. Rotary is a humanitarian organization whose members volunteer their time to improve our communities and world. Thank you to the students who helped with this event. 

Although these letters had different targets, the common thread is the elevation of the individual above all else. Our democracy has survived for centuries through the rule of law and civic engagement, and I urge all readers not to give in to these cynical and corrosive arguments. Please remain engaged in whatever way you can: help with your church, school, or scouting; volunteer at your local firehouse; serve in the Peace Corps or the military; run for office and always vote. You can make a difference and help your community.

Andrew Stammel


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