With every atrocity, there is a predictable rhythm of contraction and expansion.
When the crisis begins, we hold our collective breath as a nation. There is a great waiting until the suspect (or suspects) is caught, with an explosion of social media and news outpouring information and a sense of national solidarity. We come together as countrymen, trusting in our military and law enforcement to do their duty, watching as Americans rise above the tragedy to help their fellow man.
But once we can exhale the tension and resume “life as usual”, reminded only by minor updates and perhaps a trial later on, the bonds relax. When we are no longer suffused with patriotism and an enormity
of outrage that can only be held by our united front, the arguing begins.
Gun control, death penalties, ammo tracking, immigration policies and a myriad of complex social issues begin to rear their ugly heads. Pundits and blogs are ignited with rampant discussion, pushing a cascade of debate outward into the nether where citizens are caught in a whirl of moral conflicts.
Of course we all want to be safe. Everyone wants to grow up in a world where they have no fear of being shot in their own homes, being gunned down in a school or shopping mall, stabbed in a carjacking, or assaulted by a mentally unstable maniac. Living with fear is a difficult thing, particularly when these incidents seem to be on the rise thanks to the more available and immediate nature of news reporting.
The difficulty lies within the question of liberty. Today I read an article and one of the commenters remarked, “Liberty is more important than preventing misuses of it.” This is one of the most true statements, one of the most honest and thoughtful statements, I have ever seen on such a charged discussion (concerning the Boston bombing).
It is deceptively soothing to think of our government as The Government, a kind entity of elected officials who will do what is best for us. The Government, however, is a myth. Every ruling power, no matter the country, is simply a conglomerate of individuals who enjoy being in a position of power. No matter their initial altruism, they want to be in control. They want to be in the center of politics. In the case of the United States, many of our politicians likely desire the lifelong healthcare and pension, along with perks from lobbyists and near-guaranteed board positions, after their terms are over. To be willing and able to do such a demanding and draining job requires a certain type of personality, usually one seething with charm and often more than hint of narcissism. These are our Type A starlets, claiming to have the greatest ideas about governing a nation.
To trust blindly that they only have our best interests and our Constitution at heart is understandable, but unwise. When we let ourselves be dragged through the mud and pitted against our fellow Americans via angry words from angry media darlings, we are abandoning democracy. Every individual with the right to vote also has a solemn duty to vote with a clear mind, having researched the facts while trying not to be swayed by catch phrases and colorful ads. When money is on the line — and it always is — we must not believe that each candidate before us will tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They desperately want our vote, whether we agree with their campaign platform or simply saw their name on more lawn signs. I am sure we have all chosen a name at random on the ballot because there are so many officials to elect these days. In those cases, money has definitely won; democracy has not.
To be free, to have a wonderful life, to give others a wonderful life, and to enjoy freedom, we must stop getting sucked into the pattern. We must find a way to our beliefs that doesn’t involve biased media, radio shows, blogs, or one-sided information. Every one of us has the ability to think clearly, to engage in our political system and fix the egregious problems being caused by a system too easily influenced by marketing strategists. It’s up to us to reclaim the America we inherited from those who wrote the Constitution and make the country a better place for everyone.