Limits to Liberty

 

Certainly, it has to be one of the tragic ironies of American life that the woman who last week was privileged to read, before her colleagues in the House of Representatives, the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, that which protects freedom of religion, freedom of the press and free speech, was gunned down two days later in her home district by a crazed young man whose ideas of freedom might be characterized as either extreme conservatism or extreme libertarianism. There is, when you get down to it, not much difference.  America’s political spectrum is a lot like a circle where the far left and the far right merge into a kind of collective insanity. In fact, things have gotten so confused that what the rest of the world calls “neo-liberalism” (the belief that anything goes – particularly when it comes to business) we call “conservatism.”

 

As to where to lay the blame for all this mayhem, Americans are now busy pointing fingers. Are we to blame Tea Party conservatism, loose or irresponsible talk shows, liberal gun and drug laws, or simply, as the local sheriff said, that Arizona has somehow ended up as the epicenter of American extremism?  My guess is that it is all of the above.  Just like it takes oxygen, fuel, and a spark to set off a fire or explosion, so in this case you have a polarized political atmosphere primed by a free-for-all exchange of extreme opinions in the media, with the explosion only needing to be set off by a mentally disturbed person who was legally (believe it or not -- simply because he was of age and had not been institutionalized or convicted of a crime) able to carry a concealed weapon,

at least in Arizona, even without any special permit.

 

Maybe this is all part of the price that we, as Americans, have to pay for freedom.  But one can only wonder – at what point does freedom become such a burden that it turns into another kind of slavery or prison? Is our vision of a free America to be the OK Corral at High Noon? If so, how long will it be before we will have to start wearing bulletproof vests or carry weapons for self–defense whenever we go out in public?

 

Many Americans like to insist that ours is a Christian nation. That claim, especially in light of what we have become, is certainly debatable. But, in any case, Jesus told us that the truth shall make us free. In other words, it is only when we are able to face the dark, hidden, or shadowy side of ourselves or our thinking that we will be able to see ourselves as we really are, and clearly enough to act with or live in true freedom.  Otherwise, we live in slavery to our own fears and passions. The paranoid young man with his pistol, who killed six of his fellow citizens and wounded over a dozen others in that Tucson shopping center parking lot, is, admittedly, an extreme case.  But unfortunately, he is a symptom of a disease that has become endemic in this country.

 

R W Kropf   1/11/2011                                                 Limits to Liberty.doc  11-01-11.html