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Americans have a duty to make informed choice

For anyone paying attention to the respective political campaigns, the operative word is "choice." Wrapping themselves in the hallowed words about our inalienable rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," each party affirms that it is the right choice. Most of us realize, however, that the exercising of our rights, especially our right to choose, cannot be reduced to the few simple arguments, selective statistics and anecdotal solutions that each camp has served up. Or do we?
Life, liberty and happiness are not mere words; they enshrine complex national values and responsibilities. Whereas we should be free to choose for ourselves that which we believe will enhance our personal lives, liberty and happiness, we must not exercise that freedom unreflectively or, worse yet, carelessly. My freedom of speech does not mean I can shout out "fire" in a crowded theater because I want to laugh out loud at the ensuing panic that one little word can produce in others.
It follows that for an American to make a choice based exclusively upon her or his own rights without having measured the impact that decision might have upon others is antithetical to the values and responsibilities that gave birth to this country. Furthermore, from today's hot-topic issues of the economy and war to health care and abortion, reliance upon a singular argument, solution or demand of personal right betrays a willingness to disregard the same inalienable rights others have to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This is as true of political candidates as it is of those who will exercise their right to vote. As Americans, we have a twofold responsibility toward one another when we make our choice: to be as fully informed as possible, and to be considerate of everyone's rights, not just our own.
Michael J. Sherry
Orchard Park