Free at Last!


If freedom in America only means that we have bonded out of jail for a little while, the hilarious pathos of it should concern you. If you quote the Reverend Martin Luther King in the context of bonding out—you only stay free until someone revokes your bail? Shouldn't Americans have more expectation of freedom than that? So we need a reality-check to ask ourselves if we even understand the terms of a freedom-loving society. Do we need to examine the requirements?

More than anything, I wish for freedom for the American people. I wish for them to live in a nation that pulls in the same direction, that owes its strength to a shared value-system and a commitment to maintain the culture of a freedom-loving society, by stressing public safety, orderliness, respect for civilized values, and a respect for personal spaces, i.e., private ownership. Freedom means that our leaders will not accrue power for their own benefit, nor on behalf of a personal constituency. They take care of the streets and keep the books.

So why is America so afflicted with disunity? The answer is because one side suspects favoritism toward the other side. One side wants to institute its own value system and use it to prevail over the other side. But me, I want both sides to have a value system. I don't want cultural hegemony at the expense of the opposing side. So can't we agree to disagree and settle this thing by allowing each side to govern itself? Sound fair enough?

But what if the warring sides would rather fight it out? "Why do that?" I ask. "Save yourselves the bruising and opt for nationhood!" No one wants to hear it. Would you rather prevail over the other side? Force them to accept your value system, make them worship your god, and coerce them into living the way you want them to live? Why does anyone think this will work?

What if both sides lack the necessary courage and initiative to live apart from each other? What if they have trouble trying to understand what they really believe, what the components of their value system are? The Wikipedia article uses the term "Existential Angst" to describe people who retreat from freedom and responsibility. We also feel existential "Despair"—"a breakdown of one or more defining qualities of one's self or identity." Do we need enemies to maintain our sense of what we believe, as a sort of contrasting selfhood?

I received this mailing from our local Republican Party branch, and I wonder if anyone can see the futility of this kind of rear-guard action. Why should Republicans expect to win enough elections to make a difference, with the Democrats stacking the cards against us? But describing our problem as "disunity" oversimplifies it. America's warring-sides represent opposing cultures that want to move away from each other, and take the nation in different directions. You can't have both.

I wouldn't want to live in a nation governed by Democrats for anything, but I also realize that many Americans do want the politics and economics represented by the Democrats;  just tell them they have to govern their own people and let Republicans govern theirs. It's better than getting into a scrape that weakens both our sides.