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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Apathy = No More Rights

In our modern society, the average person is overwhelmed with day to day responsibilities: we pay dozens of bills, cook, clean, go to work, run errands, keep up with family and friends, exercise, worry about retirement, yet finding time to relax is a fantastic luxury. In addition, fax machines, jet planes, cell phones, email, and the Internet have accelerated the pace of life to unbelievable extremes. Being a responsible citizen and staying abreast of local, state, federal, and international politics, not to mention financial and cultural news, is daunting, if not impossible. Most of us are doing our best just to keep up with the bare necessities of information and our own existence. Modern life is genuinely challenging.
Just fifty years ago life was significantly different; perhaps there was more time to ponder and value the important things in life. At that time, America had fought evil and won a world war, we were preserving democracy against the growing threat of communism, and a generation was dreaming of going to the moon. In over a century, our Democracy had proven itself as righteous and prudent. While this perspective might be a little nostalgic, contemporary life is definitely much more uncertain and more rapidly evolving than any other period in human history. Our founding fathers could never have imagined the world we live in. Fortunately for us, they based their vision of America on timeless values and principles, on certain “self-evident truths”: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men …”. These are big ideas, timelessly and eloquently articulated: the idea that individuals should determine their own destiny, so long as that pursuit does not hinder another’s, is the highest American value and ideal. Preserving our Individual Liberty is the greatest challenge of modern times: without Individual Liberty, the promise of America is dead.
Today, the average citizen does not have time to monitor the myriad of local and national laws, rules, and regulations that are passed every week. Not to mention that the complexity of our laws, rules, and regulations grows every day.
Consequently, excessive laws, regulations, and taxation are more likely to emerge today than ever before. It is far easier for politicians to create laws and regulations that serve targeted constituencies while not taking into consideration those that are hurt, the long term implications, or the opportunities that are lost. Too often, laws with good intentions are passed only to effect more bureaucracy and unnecessary restrictions: often the short term perceived positive effects of these laws blind our ability to see the long term implications. In the process of just trying to manage our day to day lives, we are not noticing that our rights are being limited or whittled away on every front. While issues like health care, illegal immigration, education, the environment, and social security are ignored, anti-smoking, anti-cursing, anti-fat, anti-freedom laws are being passed with swashbuckling fervor. Yet we remain focused on, if not paralyzed by, preserving our immediate needs: paying our real-estate taxes, food shopping, mowing the lawn, going to the doctor, and taking care of our children are pressing matters. We have little or no time to ponder the big-picture issues of our time, much less fight the onerous legislation that is slowly eroding our civil rights.
On the surface it might seem that Americans are infected with apathy, and have lost the value of liberty and personal freedom that gave birth to this country. But in reality we are just trying to survive in a world that is demanding and changing faster that we can keep up. Our leaders and representatives in government would rather focus on short term solutions or “feel good” issues rather that address the most important challenges we face. Currently, too much corporate influence and selfish motivation is driving our culture forward. What we really need is more non-partisan, non-polarizing, open-minded, level-headed, inspirational, and principled leadership. Leadership that is rooted in the principles of liberty and free and fair markets, based on sound morality, and visionary enough to shape our culture, through education and enlightenment, in order to meet the inevitable challenges of our future.

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