Posts Tagged ‘Personal Responsibility’

Photo Credit: Submitted by Brandon Smith of Alt-Market blog,

 

Like most Americans, I spent the last few weeks watching the drama of events taking place following a police officer killing an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.  On the surface this story is about race and police brutality, or perhaps it is about the militarization of the police, but these topics are not what are actually driving this story.  What if the drama we see unfolding has a root cause that goes deeper than what the pundits tell us the story is all about?  What if the events we are following on TV and social media indicate something about the nature of each of us that is leading us into a time of profound darkness.  America has always been great because America has been run by decent hard working citizens.  Today far many Americans abdicate our responsibilities to the so-called experts.  Today, our declining faith in God, our inability to even hold a debate about important topics, and our loss of trust make tragedy all but inevitable.

A few months ago the drama playing out before Americans was the stand off at the Bundy Ranch.  Before that Americans were witness to the drama of Occupy Wall Street.  Obviously, there have been similar events throughout U.S. History.  In the nineteen-sixties, I would even offer that the level of anger exhibited by citizens was as serious and wide spread as it is today.  Bill Clinton had Waco and the LA Riots surrounding the acquittal of a police officer for the beating of Rodney King.  George W. Bush had his war protests.  American history is full of strife including a civil war.  The question is how mush stress can the culture take before tragedy occurs?

Disgruntled Americans making their feelings known is part of American culture and American history, and our constitution guarantees our right to assemble and to petition the government.  It’s perhaps easy to believe that these issues today, Occupy Wall Street, the Bundy Ranch stand off, and the Rioting in Ferguson are simply more of the same and don’t indicate anything special.  Perhaps these events don’t portend anything dire awaiting America, but how sure are you that the fabric of our culture and our legal system will remain intact?  All things being equal, these events are not any worse on their own than other events in history that the nation has successfully navigated and survived to tell the tale.  On the other hand, I would like to point out that the history now taking place concurrent to these events may be of some concern.  The fabric of any culture can withstand only so much stress before it tears.  The protestors in Ferguson say they are angry at the injustice of a white cop killing an innocent, unarmed, black teenager.  What will happen if the facts determine that the teenager was the aggressor and that the officer acted appropriately?  I think most Americans would acknowledge that additional riots are possible, if not likely.  If the officer is innocent, will he receive justice, or will corrupt officials sacrifice him to maintain peace, or if you like, will he receive social justice?  If he is innocent and sacrificed for the sake of the collective, how willing will other officers be to do their jobs?  Unlike past events our nation has survived, the challenges occurring today are happening at the same time as multiple serious challenges to our way of life in the United States.

Western nations, including the United States are all but bankrupt.  The US is over seventeen trillion dollars in debt and has had to resort to relying on the Federal Reserve to create money out of thin air.  The Federal Reserve then turns around and buys US treasuries with these fictional dollars.  According to a US Border Patrol support group, over six million Illegal immigrants are flooding across the United State’s southern border every year, In the Middle East today, a well funded, well armed, Caliphate is being formed regardless of western nations spending trillions of dollars to plant the seeds of freedom in the region.  As you read this article, psychopathic fascist Jihadists are murdering, raping and torturing men, women, and children in appalling numbers.  Israel, as is so often the case in modern history, at war with an enemy who’s only real demand is that Israel not exist.  In Europe, the Russian Federation under Mr. Putin has invaded and taken over the Crimea from Ukraine, regardless of treaties guaranteeing Ukrainian sovereignty.  Russian soldiers are now firing artillery shells from Ukrainian soil at Ukrainian military units.  At home in the United States, government officials, supported by the media tell Americans not to worry about these things, while at the same the very same government officials violate existing law to promote a statist agenda seeking to make Americans dependent on government to survive.  According to the Senate Budget Committee approximately one in six Americans are now on food stamps.  The American President actually brags about this statistic as if it were a positive indicator.  The household income of Americans is falling while the cost of energy, food, education, medical care, and housing are increasing.  The federal government takeover of the health care industry now requires that Americans have medical insurance that costs dramatically more that most families can afford.  These new policies have deductibles that make the policy all but worthless to those who need it.  This insurance is of course subsidized by the government.  The truth in America is that the prices for the basics of life will continue to rise, how will Americans like those protesting in Ferguson react when they no longer afford that which they must have?

My point, you ask? America has always faced challenges and there have even been times of great strife in our history, but rarely have we faced this great a number of threats at the same time.  In the 1860’s and a hundred years later in the 1960’s the country faced simultaneous challenges that threatened our way of life in the US.  The country survived the Civil War, but at what cost?  The conflict caused the cultural fabric of the country to tear resulting in hundreds of thousands of American casualties.  How willing are Americans today to endure that high cost.  Even during the 1960’s America came uncomfortably close to disaster.  One might make the argument that we are still seeing the results of that conflict today as many of the same leaders still agitate for their collectivist and anti-American agenda.

60s RiotsThe riots in Ferguson paled in comparison to riots taking place in the 1960’s, but the underlying tension and division in the country is clearly in place for a disaster to occur.  Recent elections reflect this division.  The vitriol in the country continues to increase.  Political leaders will say and do almost anything to win an election.  I postulate that our governmental institutions are becoming more and more illegitimate every day.  Man on the street interviews reflect citizen’s apathy.  Many Americans are simply ignorant about key issues today.  Far too many of our country men and women are in fact emotionally detached from the country.  In a word, they simply don’t care.  Many Americans no longer believe in the great experiment that is the American Republic and they seem to no longer have a stake in defending their own freedom.  Our leaders know how easy it is to manipulate a witless population into promoting their agenda, so more and more, they put out propaganda that sounds good but resolves nothing.  The corporate – political elites know that the truth is irrelevant.

In an environment where trust is steadily being destroyed by the unreported stories, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the media, government, and various civic leaders, low information citizens who only know that things are messed up, react badly when agitated by their media puppet masters.  They can see for themselves that their government violates its own laws with impunity.  They can see some citizens getting special privileges.  Americans know we are being lied to, but far too many of us still blame those the puppet masters tell us to blame.  We see the lies, but we dismiss them as routine.  We just don’t yet realize that leaders we identify with are part of the problem.  The risk present in today’s environment is that unlike previous times of great tension.  Americans no longer believe or trust anyone, and fewer and fewer Americans have faith in God.  We don’t trust the government or the police, we don’t trust business, we don’t trust the media, and we don’t trust each other.  This is a real problem because where there is no trust, and we have no faith that even our government will keep its word, how can we work together to resolve our differences?  When opposing sides in a debate cannot communicate, pressure builds and conflict becomes inevitable.  The problems we face in today’s world are not new, but they are serious. As Alexis De Tocqueville said, “America is great because she is good.  If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”  Today, American’s declining faith in God, and our loss of trust are like gasoline.  The only question is which of the many sparks will ignite a conflagration.  The only way to avoid tragedy is to care enough to look past the agendas and talking points, not only of our opponents but past the agendas and talking points of those we support also.  We must regain our faith in a creator and we must find ways to love each other before all is lost.

Alexis_de_tocqueville

Zero Hedge’s article, “When ‘Anti-Government’ Violence Erupts, Who Is Really At Fault?” really is a must-read. If we are to avoid the dystopian future I wrote about in Phoenix Republic from becoming fact instead of fiction.  We must understand where we are on the road to some really dark outcomes.

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Come and Take It I had dinner with a colleague on Friday who was visiting Texas from another state.  With her was her dear friend who was visiting the US from England.  My dinner companions were very nice; we a lovely time and the discussion was lively.  I was intrigued when at one point the discussion moved to the Second Amendment and the right of Americans to defend themselves, if necessary, with deadly force.  This same spirit of self-reliance was seen by freedom loving Americans this week standing up for the Second Amendment  in front of the Alamo.

Our English dinner companion appeared to be a little surprised to learn that in Texas is isn’t at all surprising for average citizens to routinely carry a weapon as they go about daily affairs.  I explained that although many Texans don’t carry a weapon daily, most of us do believe it is our individual and personal responsibility to defend our lives and property.  It is not only our right to defend ourselves, but it truly is a duty to defend not only ourselves, but those around us as well.  In effect, the individual citizen truly is the “First Responder.”  In our republic the citizen is supposed to be an active participant in governance and in self-defense.

She asked a couple of questions before sharing a story about a man in England, who as I write this article, is standing trial for killing someone who broke into his home.  It occurred to me that the difference between this situation happening in England and the same event happening in Texas is all about how citizens in each culture view things.  Moreover, it goes to the root of the disconnect individualist and collectivist Americans have in how we view the world.  In authoritarian governments, such as exist in much of Europe including England, people have become subjects dependent on the government for their needs, including their safety.

From a cultural perspective there really are two Americas today.  While there still are millions of Americans who believe we are individually responsible for ourselves, our prosperity, and in fact for defending the lives of our families, there is an ever increasing number of Americans who see the world very differently.  This other American culture has a collective viewpoint.  This perspective is oriented specifically to the idea that someone else is responsible for their well-being.  These people are comfortable with government defending their lives and property, making economic decisions that impact their lives, and even in making medical decisions regarding who lives and dies.

To be brief, some people are only comfortable in the role of a child and desperately desire to have someone else in the role of the parent.  They want someone else, an expert perhaps, to be responsible.  While this analogy is probably a little derisive to those holding a collectivist viewpoint, I really don’t intend it to be.  I am only using the parent – child metaphor to highlight the relationship regarding who holds responsibility for a person’s well-being.  Going back for a moment to our English connection, consider the historical idea of a King being sovereign over his subjects as contrasted to the American concept of a Republic where citizens are sovereign.  America was constructed around the idea that men and women are capable of ruling themselves.  Think about it.  Regardless of where your comfort level is concerning your individual responsibility for your own welfare you cannot serve two masters.  You are either sovereign or you are not.  At the end of the day you can be responsible for your life, or you can delegate that responsibility.

The problem America has today is that we want to think we are free, but too many of us don’t really want the responsibility.  Face it, life is tough.  Life is scary and bad things can and do happen to good people.  For many of us, it is comforting to think that there is a government safety net for those who need it.  My point today isn’t about how to best achieve the best result with regard to public assistance, but rather about the ownership of decision making.  By its very nature the government accrues to itself the decision making authority that should belong to the individual.  It is only fair for those paying the bills to make the rules, right?  Anyone care to guess how many times we might have heard this line growing up:   “As long as you live under my roof, you will do as I say!”

How many conversations have you had with someone about some tragedy or another, where someone will say, “The government should do something about…”  That is the child within each of us that wants mommy and daddy to make the world right.  When I look at the world today, what I see is a nation, the vast majority of which are nice hard working people who genuinely want to stop others from hurting or in some cases even from facing the consequences from their own behavior.

When debating someone about the Second Amendment and gun-control, I often have someone ask me why I need a weapon, or if not that, why an assault rifle.  The obvious reply is the Constitution of the United States guaranteed my right to any weapon I can afford, but that doesn’t address the person’s core issue.  What they are really saying is that they have trust issues with other people in society having the right to a weapon.  Most of these people are really nice and only want violence to end.  They have ceded the right to self-defense to government and with it their responsibility to defend themselves.  They have faith that someone else will be capable of defending them.  They believe that if only guns were not allowed the violence would end.   Presenting statistics that prove America has an extremely low gun violence rate, once you factor out gang-related murders in cities with absolute gun control in force, is meaningless because of the emotional impact of tragedy’s hyped by the media.  These horrific events are just too great for them to cope with emotionally.  It makes them nervous when they see someone who still embraces their God-given rights.  Regardless that a criminal will not adhere to the law, they simply want mommy and daddy to make them feel safe.  It is tragic to see the results of what a crazy person with a weapon can do, and all of us just want it to end.  Many Americans simply want to feel safe and that someone is caring for them.  The same emotion applies to the government’s so-called war on poverty or the government’s takeover of medical care.  This week’s battle in Washington DC over healthcare clearly illustrates that many Americans have outsourced the responsibility and the duty to care for themselves to government.  They don’t want to have to think about any facts, they just want their lives to continue without any impact from reality.

The differences in this country are not about Republicans or Democrats, they are about world view.  In Phoenix Republic Americans must learn to cope with what to do in a world where mommy and daddy cannot be trusted to help them.  If you pick up the novel, let me know how you would react in the same situation as Megan, Annie or Kate.  The point of the story is about individuals maintaining their dignity and their faith in challenging times.  Even without an economic disaster, all of us face hard times at one point or another.  Maybe it is a good idea to think about how we would want to react as people and as Americans.

Additional Resources:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/19/thats-what-americas-about-armed-gun-rights-activists-rally-at-the-alamo/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/14/food-stamp-glitch-leaves-walmart-shelves-bare-like-a-tornado-had-came-through/

Forever Changed Documentary Chronicles the Horrific Christopher Newsom Channon Christian Murders...and the Years of Injustice That Followed

Have you ever read a news story and shake your head and wonder how something so terrible could happen?  Let’s be honest, human beings have a great propensity for unspeakable violence.  Genghis Khan killed entire villages if they did not immediately surrender to him.  In Rwanda it is estimated that at least five-hundred-thousand people were murdered because they were from the wrong tribe.  Today in the Middle East, the genocide against Christians is sickening.  On the other hand, human beings also have an amazing ability to sacrifice for others, or for the good of the cause.  Many men willingly stepped aside so that women and kids could have a chance to survive aboard the Titanic.  Every day first responders rush into harm’s way as they did on 9/11 at the World Trade Center.

In Phoenix Republic my characters, Kate, Megan, & Annie are witness to the result of an American culture which struggles to cope with disaster.  In writing this story, I constantly had in mind what motivates Americans.  I don’t know about you, but in my experience most of us take an action to achieve something we want or we react to actions taken by others.  One’s culture influences one’s behavior and shapes what we consider to be reasonable, right?  What happens when what is right or wrong don’t really matter?

All of this is obvious, right?  The past couple of days however I have been thinking about some of the more noteworthy crimes that have been in the news of late.  I wonder what goes through a criminal’s mind as they commit the most horrific atrocities.  The cases I am referring to have all taken place in the United States and were committed by Americans.  In one instance in Georgia a seventeen year old young man shot an infant in his stroller because the mom didn’t have any money for him to steal.  In another case from 2007, a college couple was car-jacked in Tennessee and beaten, raped, and tortured to death in a manner that Saddam Hussein would have difficulty topping.  More recently, any but the most completely oblivious of us are familiar with the young Australian man that was brutally gunned down because some teenagers were bored.  Notice all of these locations were not in places like Washington DC, New York City, or Chicago where the death rate rivals war zones in the Middle East.  While I’m well aware that Americans have done some truly awful things, I don’t really think that I have seen such a general decline in American values amongst youth in the general population.  The truth is that kids in America today are killing people without remorse.  While reporting is much more intense today that doesn’t account for this level of carnage.  According to FBI statistics murders are down in the US, but while overall quantity is diminished, something has and is changing in fabric of America.  We are seeing atrocities like the ones noted above with much more frequency.

To be clear, when referring to values here, I am not referring to whether someone is in church on Sunday, gives to charity, or supports a particular political party, or religious dogma, but rather I am talking about a fundamental empathy for other people.  In the last month, I have seen news story, after news story, after news story, of teenagers and or young adults’ brutally robbing, raping, and killing people.  These people not only were willing to really hurt others, but these animals even go after babies and the elderly with absolutely no remorse or feeling.  Some people in this country are more than willing to inflict horrific evil on others.  My question is how can one be human and commit such evil?

The only answer that I can come up with is that the range of what people are capable of is really wide open.  What it comes down to is how individuals perceive life, justice, and how they were taught to value or not value human life.  In other words, our culture is what informs a society’s humanity.  I happen to believe that we have at least two cultures in this country.  One culture values the individual and personal responsibility and the other culture values the needs of the collective over the needs of individuals.  When the collective is the important factor, individual crimes become secondary to the need of the collective to push an agenda.  We hear about “Social Justice” not “Justice.”  We are told that we must understand the historical context and the upbringing of criminals.  Who the victim and perpetrator are matter more than blind justice.  Sadly, media and the political elite in America today are more concerned with obtaining power and influence, and of course, making money than with the need to uphold what used to be our core values.  We hand out trophies to everyone regardless of achievement and tell our children that they should feel good about themselves regardless of their actions.  Yes, our kids are entitled to anything they want, they think.   If they happen to be bored, then taking a young man’s life is just something they deserve to get to do.

Should we be surprised then that far too high of a percentage of these kids grow up to be monsters.  In 1930’s Germany, Adolph Hitler prompted much of the same value sets that we see valued by pop-culture today.  I surmise that it is a handy thing to devalue individual worth, God, and moral behavior if you intend to make an all-powerful state into God and the final arbiter of morality.  I would posit that the same darkness of the soul that allowed Germans to watch passively as Hitler took six-million Jewish German citizens from their homes to be murdered is the same darkness that we see coming to a boil around us.  In Phoenix Republic, the much of the story puts on display what it might look and feel like to the average person what evil might look like if good people do not stand up for what is right.  Like us, my characters have to take that look in the mirror and commit as individuals to do the right thing by others.  Media and politics is a powerful influence in our culture, but it is a reflection of society.  The next election will not solve the nation’s problems.  Only we can do that one person, one family, one community at a time.

Additional Reading:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/30/justice-teen-found-guilty-of-shooting-13-month-old-baby-in-the-face-as-his-mother-watched-in-horror/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/13/the-gruesome-story-of-a-murdered-tennessee-couple-you-may-have-never-heard-about-but-that-you-will-never-forget/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/19/student-randomly-shot-dead-by-gang-of-teens-just-for-the-fun-of-it-police-say/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/02/elderly-buddhist-monk-savagely-beaten-and-left-for-dead-in-oklahoma/

http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2013/january/early-2012-crime-statistics