The Dilemma of Self-Rule

The Silent and Brave revision: page #91

Here’s another apologetic for politics. What can I say? It’s on my mind right now.

There is not a candidate out there who would tell you they are against self-rule, or the ability of a responsible adult to make decisions for him/herself and their family. That is because if they said such a thing they would not win. It goes against the grain of what it means to be an American.

Once a candidate is elected, they immediately begin the process of deciding who is responsible enough for self-rule, and the overriding rules that must be followed by anyone in order to fit into the framework. I have no problem with this, either. Part of adult responsibility is agreeing to and conforming to the rules of the society around you. Some people are incapable of doing this, and it is necessary to place restrictions on their behavior in order for American society to function. So, in a presidential election, we’re really deciding on a leader whose rules for conforming we can agree to follow, and that’s fine.

But it is important to be careful. It is important to remember that every problem we face in this country right now, whether it is the economic failure of cities, the Mexican drug war, anger and mistrust between police and private citizens, pollution, an incarceration rate that is the highest of any country in the world, the deficit, religious intolerance . . . you name it. All of these problems are the result of decisions made by elected leaders in our past and adherence to their rules for conforming. There is no getting away from it. We, an intelligent, self-ruling people, made the choices that led to our problems.

It is important to remember that there is a future, and we are headed there. Our decisions have tremendous consequences, whether it’s the war on drugs, or manifest destiny, or the brave and difficult decision to end slavery. What we should be trying to achieve is greater responsibility, a better “adulthood” for our society. On the way there will be growing pains. Some of them will be really bad.

Back to what must seem to be my favorite topic. Gun violence is a growing pain, a by–product of placing tools that are made for one purpose only, killing, into the hands of more and more people, some of whom are not responsible enough to bear the burden. Are weapons going to go away? No. Read Dune. In Frank Herbert’s masterpiece every power has a stockpile of nuclear weapons that they point at one another to ensure peace. You can say that sucks all you want, but look around you at the world: that’s exactly how it works. Every country must have its defenses, so that every country has to play nice.

Someday I hope there will be no countries. When that happens, by the same logic every person will have to have his/her own defenses, and be responsible enough to use them in the right way. Until mankind grows up enough to bear that burden, we will continue to kill one another and ourselves, and we will continue to be punished for our hatred, like children who haven’t yet reached adulthood.

We must learn to accept our growing pains and triumph over them as we travel into the future with a greater capacity for self-rule.

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