I don’t talk politics too often, mainly because I don’t feel I’m educated enough to really engage in the conversation. Also, because it’s a subject that is so explosive, and like Religion, people like to judge you as a person and view you through a certain lense based only on the fact of your affiliation.
However, I feel like I have something to say, and I’d like to share.
I was flipping channels the other night and ran across a quick interview with Bill Maher and, who I believe was, the Governor of Pennsylvania.
Maher asked the Governor, something like “if America is made up of ‘good’ people, why is our rate of violence and crime so high?”
The Governor gave some answer about our youth needing to be better educated or something along those lines, which is all well and good, and I agree with him, but I don’t think that is the answer to Maher’s question.
And I hear this kind of question/argument a lot. And I feel like there is a fundamental reason why America has so much crime:
We are free.
We are free to say what we want to say, to share our opinions, to worship who we want or to not worship at all. We are free to speak out against our leaders. We are free to carry guns. We are free to protect our property. We are free to be private. We are free to live lives of freedom.
Freedom gives us power. And with power (as Uncle Ben is fond of saying) comes great responsibility.
The unfortunate part of that equation is people are not always responsible. I’d go as far as saying people are not even ‘good’. The majority of people I encounter look out for themselves first. There is a natural survival of the fittest attitude among every human being. This leads to us, quite often, to being not so responsible for the betterment of society.
So, our choice is to either live in a place of dangerous freedom or safe slavery.
If we want to live in a safe place, where we will never feel threatened or endangered, then we have to lose our freedoms. The government could tap all our phones, be free to view all our correspondence, be free to enter our homes, take away our right to carry guns, and the country would become a safe place. But I don’t want to live in that place.
I love the freedoms we have as Americans. I don’t own a gun and never will. But I feel everyone should have a right to one (that right can be taken away, however). We should have the right to protect ourselves. And we could take away all the guns and we would be safe, but we’d have to sacrifice our freedoms.
To bring it back to comics, this was explored interestingly in the recent Marvel Comics crossover, Civil War.
For those of you who aren’t aware of the story, what happened was a super hero group, chasing after a bad guy ended up inadvertently blowing up a school full of children. The government then introduced the Super Hero Registration Act, where all super powered people had to register with the government and become government sanctioned agents or become outlaws and be hunted down and imprisoned. A brilliant story.
This, of course split the Marvel universe in two over this very same issue: What is more important – safety or freedom? Captain America led up the freedom side and Iron Man led up the safety side.
What’s interesting is that the majority of readers seemed to side with Captain America in the comics… but I’ve heard from many who said if it was real life, they would side with Iron Man. I wonder if this has something to do with comics existing in an idealistic world, free of the realities we face every day.
To be honest, I didn’t feel like the execution of the story did the concept justice, but it was a fantastic concept. And I think it’s a question that everyone should answer for themselves, as each year we edge closer to more and more of our freedoms being taken away:
What is more important to you? Freedom or safety?