Despite what your father and grandfather might have said, the price of rice in China really may have an affect in our own “Backyard”. Reports out of communist China detail the arrest and four-year jail sentence for one Chen Shuqing. What was his crime? What did he do that would place him behind bars for 48 months? Was it shoplifting, was it hacking into sensitive financial systems of the local government, or illegal espionage?

No, Chen is simply a blogger. He posted several “politically sensitive essays and postings that advocated democracy and constitutional rule” ( He was speaking up on the injustices that he saw, that were in his own area of paradise and he was compelled to speak out on those imbalances that were being perpetrated on his friends and neighbors.

He had the knowledge, and he spoke up in favor of fairness and equity… Such actions in China, where corruption and nepotism are rampant; where back room deals are the norm and money “under the table” is the standard not the exception; he was convicted of inciting subversion by those who are in power.

Does that sound a little familiar? Those who closely follow what is happening here in our own “Backyard” have seen the signs of such abuse of power and nepotism, waste of money and resources by our elected officials. The injustices that seem to be happening more and more in our court systems and communities.

Our saving grace, our privilege and opportunity is that we don’t live in a country where righting wrongs is a crime. Where your national, state and local liberties are not circumvented by the need to keep state secrets on the grounds of good public relations. Where because someone is in a position of power as a result of money , party affiliation or how much land they own, they could have you summarily jailed on trumped up charges.

Since we live, at the point I last checked, in the grand ol’ U.S. of A. we have the right, may it even be said the duty to be able to ensure the liberties afforded us in our Constitution are observed and that we actively work towards the betterment of community and serve as a check and balance to those who have the power and sit in places that make the decisions that affect the lives of all of us.

We must be an active player in the development, in the policies, in the procedures, and the enforcement of those liberties in the most intimate of governments, in our own municipalities –  or we stand to be in danger of inheriting a place that prohibits basic civil liberties, those rights afforded us by sacrifice, pain and blood.

So as I write this from the freedom of my back porch, enjoying the sunshine and the light breeze coming through, instead of a damp and dreary jail cell, it is encouraging to know that despite the vitriolic “sputum” that comes my way from those trying individuals forcing their wills upon the majority, that the secret state police is not plotting a forced relocation to “outer Mongolia” for a long determined time.

May we not squander the liberties God-given, assured by the great founders of our country. May we find it within ourselves, the strength to stand up and be counted on for good and not enslaved by the pursuit of the almighty dollar that blinds and shackles free men to do that which is ethical, moral and legal with every action they undertake. May we all find the courage of Chen, who despite the threat of his comforts and safety, found within himself the voice to speak out and to act on the knowledge of the injustice that were happening in his backyard.

He found a way to do it, even with the ominously oppression of Communism, what excuse do we then have?