Folly of Freedom is Plaguing the US Right Now

Folly of Freedom is Plaguing the US Right Now

FINANCIAL TIMES 10/09/12
By Michael Shank

Sir, It is confounding that America’s presidential candidates, in their first debate, failed to address one of the growing epidemics killing our countrymen and women, that of gun violence (“Gun lobby pours millions of dollars into campaign to unseat Obama”, October 4). Sadly, they likely never will before, or after, election day on November 6.

While this exhibits the power of the National Rifle Association to silence debate in Washington on gun control, it highlights a deeper problem plaguing the US right now: the folly of freedom. With freedom and power – of which the US is blessed with plenty – comes great responsibility. We are enjoying the fruits of the former with little regard for the latter.

For many Americans, we are clinging to our freedoms at the expense of everything we’ve worked hard to build – from safety in American society to a being a model democracy. Whether it is the right to bear arms or the right to free speech, the exercise of these freedoms has metastasised into tumours that are killing tens of thousands of Americans yearly, thanks to needless gun violence, and provoking unnecessary violent protest and war overseas, thanks to senseless anti-Islam videos.

Bordering on the absurd, it is now impossible for US politicians to tackle even the most basic of responsibility measures on gun freedom: licensing, training, reasonable limits on gun purchases per month and limits on military-grade weaponry. As a result, the US witnesses, in one summer, mass shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, Illinois and the list goes on.

The founding fathers didn’t fight for our freedoms so that we can fight each other with our freedoms. We need to be adults about this; just because the cookie jar lid is lifted doesn’t mean we pillage the jar. Time for freedom to meet its match: responsibility.

Michael Shank
Adjunct Professor
School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
George Mason University
Arlington, VA
US