Written by Kevin Hower Tuesday, 30 June 2009 14:01
“…The thing I treasure most in life cannot be taken away
There will never be a reason why I will surrender to your advice
To change myself, I’d rather die….”
—“Alive” by Disturbed
Freedom. The more of it a society has, the greater the potential for chaos, and the greater amount of responsibility that must be assumed by each and every citizen to prevent or contain the resulting chaos. Anyone notice what words weren’t there? I’ll give you a moment or two in case you missed it.
Give up? Some people—especially some of those in Washington—might feel inclined, where I wrote “each and every citizen” to write “the government.” My point is that it’s not the government’s job to rule us. It’s our job to rule ourselves, and much of this country’s population has abdicated that responsibility.
At one point in Frank Herbert’s book “Dune,” the Baron Harkonnen says to his closest adviser: “Listen to my nephew…. He aspires to rule my Barony, yet he cannot even rule himself.”
If you think about how things are in this country, why would people feel they can, or should even want to rule themselves? Why think for myself or try to take care of myself when I’m told the government will come in and bail me out if I get into financial trouble? What message should I, as a taxpayer, take from the whole mess we’re in right now?
This is where that quote from Disturbed enters. It’s one thing for me to decide I should change the direction of my life in the pursuit of my own happiness. It’s entirely a different matter for someone else to come along, whether it be the government or some religious institution, and tell me that I should behave a certain way.
For me, the only appropriate response is: “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll decide, based on available information and my own judgment, what’s best for my life. Sure, I might make a mistake, possibly even a fatal one, but that’s on me, not you.”
If someone else decides for me, it really becomes their life, not mine. To me, it’s a matter of pride in myself as an American. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror with anything less than utter contempt if I just surrendered my autonomy to the government and said, “Here, guys. Support me for the rest of my life, and in return I’ll obediently behave however you want me to and keep voting for you to stay in power.”
Part of the problem is that we have far too many laws. The more laws we have and the more our staggeringly and unnecessarily complex system grows, the more people get trapped and even destroyed by it instead of being served by it.
Are there certain things against which we should definitely have laws? Yes, of course. Actions which willfully deprive another person of their life, liberty or property, against their wishes, should be against the law.
The law should be there to protect us from real danger and address serious wrongs, not to act as a truncheon with which to beat us into submission or exact revenge, which is where we’re at now in this country.
The fear of being sued into poverty and everlasting debt because of some later unforeseen consequence has basically killed compassion and common courtesy in a lot of people. There’s a very good reason that the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished,” is so well known.
Two articles I read have discussed how several towns in Europe are doing away with almost all, if not all, traffic signs. Some might expect that this would result in utter chaos and a vast increase in accidents.
On the contrary, there has been a significant decrease in accidents in those towns. Instead of relying on the traffic signs to tell them what to do, the drivers actually have to pay close attention to their surroundings and cooperate with one another instead of battling one another constantly.
It seems to work for driving, and I think we should begin to seriously consider applying it other aspects of life.