We who live for faith, family, and freedom have been told there is no place for us in America. Not by our neighbors, who are decent people just trying to get along, but by corrupt individuals and institutions sowing conflict and fear.

We waited mostly quietly and obediently last summer – despite our inner anguish – while rioters burned our cities and beat our neighbors in the streets. (They called it "justice.")

We resisted civilly as our autonomy was snatched from us through coercive policies and mandates. (They called it "prudence.")

We did not loot and burn. We did not demand to be acknowledged and obeyed. We prayed, and we waited.

For what? For the chance to exert our wills lawfully through our sacred right to vote. Eighty million of us cast our ballots for President Donald J. Trump in the hopes of preserving what was left of our civil rights. In the end, though, even our votes were subverted. Darkness, evil, lies.

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“Now, wait a minute. That's not entirely true. What about the storming of the Capitol?”

What happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a disgrace; that's true. But it was also a deception. The event's bizarre and documented inconsistencies confirm this, no matter how loudly and repetitively the television says otherwise.

So when all our major institutions fail to uphold the rule of law and follow due process (the Simons situation is a recent example from our own legislature), can Americans really call themselves free? To know, we must first ask what seems an absurdly basic question: what does a free and open society look like? What are its fruits? Are lonely, fearful, muzzled children the fruit of a free society? Are lonely, fearful, muzzled elders the fruit of a free society? Does a free society restrict a person's ability to travel, to run a business, or to attend church? If our answer to these questions is "yes" or even "maybe," then America probably hasn't actually been free for a very long time.

Erin Bussian, Cummings, N.D.