“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin
While there is some contention as to what Benjamin Franklin’s intent was with those words it is not in doubt that he, like many of the founders of the American system, were suspicious of those who sought power, and thus they set up a government with a divided system in order to make abuse of power far less likely – you know, the “checks and balances” you were taught in school. There was also an expectation that there would be an informed citizenry, a free press, and other non-governmental limitations on power getting out of hand. Sadly, things have changed.
America citizens have seen an erosion of expectations as they relate to the Bill of Rights. And why is this? Well, people have traded liberty for a false sense of security. Who in the late 1990s would have dreamed of concepts such as no-knock raids, SWAT teams being employed on regular people for an overdue library book, police dressed in military uniforms and employing military weapons at peaceful protests, surveillance of everyone’s emails (don’t forget phone calls and web history) and checkpoints like East Germany used to employ?
And then there is the what many consider more irritating than serious but it fits right in, and that is the whole political correctness “culture wars” taking place on college campuses. And while you may dismiss this as just a few social justice warriors demonstrating just how far out on the fringes they really are then think again. Even Obama came out last year and was critical of students trying to suppress free expression on campuses. And if we begin to censor in the name of not offending anyone in schools does this not start the process of extending this to the whole of the society? Of course one should not check their right to speech and thought at the door of academia but let us just assume we ignore these trends…what about when the students integrated into the idea that controversial speech must be suppressed graduate and become tomorrow’s teachers, professors, lawyers, journalists and politicians? How long before the 1st. Amendment is seen as a relic of a by-gone era that must be adapted to the times…of a seemingly more compassionate, but yet less tolerant of debate and analysis, society?
If you have read my novel series (check “Freedom from Conscience” – http://finest.se/jasmincroft/ ) you will see the plot mainly revolves around the dynamic of the individual v. the conformity expected by society and the state. The first novel has, as part of the plot, a school system that rewards the mediocre and punishes individuality; the second book deals mostly with how society herds people into an ideal based on someone else’s expectations; and the third deals with how one can empower themselves and make changes. Once the forth book is published it will deal with the dark side of police and government corruption and how our heroine seeks justice.
And so how is this important? The point is that people cannot become cynical and isolated and then expect things to get better. The people who founded the USA did not pull away and either hope for change or wait for everything to collapse. Instead, they worked to change the system, and when that did not work then, and only then, did they take the last recourse. I believe we can change things but that will require tapping into the group mind and insuring people do not forget who they are and what rights they are guaranteed. People need to be reminded that the drivel thrown at us by the corporate media as entertainment is not who we are, and we are certainly smarter than what the corporate news media sees us as. We must refuse to be dumbed-down, either as individuals, families or communities. There are those who want to erode our rights and they will get their way if people just shrug their shoulders and conform. The only thing that really stands in the way of a descent to totalitarianism is the collective minds of the people, and that is where we must strive to reach out and make the case for not only maintaining our rights, but getting back the ones that are being lost.
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