“Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle.” Mahatma Gandhi
Is it enough to believe in foundational principles and live your life accordingly? There is a sensation that appears when reading the headlines or attempting to stay current with the state of affairs in the world today that decries the very suggestion that we are a free and noble nation.
Take, for example, the fundamental constitutionally guaranteed Right to Free Speech. Is that a genuine actuality, or is it something to be used to advantage while denying others of the benefit of such a universally sought after freedom? Do we have the right to say anything we wish, or does such verbosity infringe on the true nature of society the “Pursuit of Happiness?” Many believe that this is another of the rights we are guaranteed in the Constitution but, sadly, many are also misinformed. It is not guaranteed us in the constitution, or any other legal document. The quote “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” comes from the Declaration of Independence which is the foundational document we strive to guide ourselves by. Unfortunately, it is not the political panacea it seems. If one was to read the text of the Declaration, they would find that over eighty five percent of it is a diatribe on the malicious nature of the then King of England.
So that brings one to wonder as to the veracity of any right that is subject to interpretation. The Supreme Court has allowed that the display of sexual intimacies for profit is covered under the First Amendment and therefore licit. Conversely, the Court refused to hear a case involving the torture of a prisoner during the Middle East War. Why is the exploitation of the human body for reasons of commerce important enough to be heard by the Court, and the violation of a human body for the purpose of inflicting inhuman pain not? Is it that pornography is an issue in California (the location of the largest production and distribution of pornography in the world) whose voters influence much of the political climate in America? Or is it that the political regime used a little known law to perform atrocities, and the Court did not wish to have its name associated with a heinous Un-American practice. It made a decision that pornography was, and is, a moral and acceptable practice while refusing to discuss questionably immoral acts.
There is a heated debate raging of a nature that will affect the future of our country. A controversial defense bill that could allow the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on US soil has created a huge stir. The question goes to denying rights guaranteed in the fight against an enemy that has the luxury of acting as they wish while we must follow principles that have always been suspect. When has this become such an issue? The government has always detained prisoners and terrorists without regard to legality. The government has always done exactly what it chooses and, for the most part, gotten away with it. This has occurred so many times that they are not even covering it up anymore. Instead they are writing it into laws to expedite things, or put candidacies in jeopardy for politicians caught in the middle of an unwinnable war.
The next to last Republican allowed or ordered the poisoning of groundwater in Iran in order to placate a then ally, and future enemy. What of the women of the suffragette party who were detained in psychiatric hospitals in the early part of the20th century to prevent the vote being given to woman? It was all done legally, but where is the outrage. What of the systematic refusal of voting rights for blacks in the south that did not change until violence was displayed?
It is a little known fact that the Civil Rights movement in the south truly did not begin having an effect until an organizations called the “Deacons for Defense,” a black organization of mostly combat veterans armed themselves and refused to submit to the violence and abuse being experienced by blacks in the south.
The attacks on 911 were a direct result of terrorist taking advantage of our “rights” in order to wage war against us. They freely lived in our country, took advantage of goods and services that our rights give people living in the United States while planning and implementing the largest attack on American Soil. Yet we hold on to those rights as if they actually mean something.
One of the beauties of being American is the responsibility to question our leaders the actions they take. This should not be reserved to just those currently serving, but it must too pertain to those who have molded our nation with the balderdash they perpetrated on us. Jefferson beseeched us to embrace the ideal that “all men are created equal” while owning slaves and fathering children by those same slaves. Who do we listen to, the message or the messenger?
Going to one of those iconoclastic leaders, Abraham Lincoln, we hear:
“On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been. When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that “all men are created equal” a self evident truth; but now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim “a self evident lie.”
So what is it, wholehearted truth or fanciful lie? Do we forego personal freedom for indeterminate timeframes in order to avoid attack, destruction, or Armageddon? It is a slippery slope questioning ones rights today, but what good are those rights if they cannot be held to the fire to determine their veracity.