Liberty. Freedom. Independence. We take pride in these words, as Americans. We celebrate them on the fourth day of July, reminding ourselves that we once overthrew a tyrant who sought to deny us those words. In 1776, we fought together for the right to be independent.


Today, we think ourselves as divided as we have ever been, and this in a country that suffered a devastating Civil War. We declare we are done with the other side, that we will never see their point of view. We draw lines and call teams. And even those teams sometimes fracture under the weight of unshakeable convictions.

At MainStream we have certainly drawn our own lines in the sand. For example, we will not support any candidate or legislator who seeks to change the Kansas Constitution, either to deny a woman's right to control her own body, or to remove the Kansas Supreme Court's oversight of education.

And yet, as our country teeters at the top of the long, fast slope towards 2020, that downhill slide looks increasingly dangerous. What will we look like at the bottom? Bruised, hurt, unable to recover? Or will our country emerge stronger, ready to stand up again on the world stage? How do we navigate that slope? Who do we toss aside on the way? People who are scared of migrants? People who have been hurt by indifferent school administrators? People who make so little they don't have the energy to care who is elected next?

How do we navigate the path between conviction and compassion?

We certainly do not have the answers, but our founding principles help keep us pointed in the right direction. Respect for all individuals. The courage to stand up. The conviction that democracy works. We fight for ALL Kansans, because every person deserves respect. That means we fight for the million and a half Kansans who are not necessarily represented by their government because they either cannot vote, or do not vote. But it also means that we fight for those Kansans who do vote, but who are ignored by their elected representatives. Public education is for ALL Kansans. Health care is for ALL Kansans. Dignity is for ALL Kansans. Even for the ones we disagree with.

As you sit with family over this Fourth of July weekend, think on these ideas. Respect. Courage. Justice. Maybe have a conversation about what freedom means to each of us.

Do more than vote.

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