June 26, 2010
Is Civic Duty Optional?By Bargain Citizen
Most people accept the premise that a majority of Americans are conservative, or at least to the right of center. So why do our government, and many aspects of our culture, lean so far to the left? The simple answer is we let it. In truth, most Americans are either too busy, distracted, trusting or just too ignorant to get involved.
Our world moves by at an increasingly rapid pace. While our technology demands instantaneous response it overwhelms us with information, sights and sounds. We often respond with a self-defense mechanism, convincing ourselves that; a) it does not matter, b) it is up to someone else to deal with, or c) we cannot do anything about it anyway.
Ironically, common sense allows us to see trouble coming from a mile down the road. After all, there truly is nothing new under the sun. Mankind's history points us to exactly what to do and what not to do. What works or does not work has not changed, our perceptions have.
For those who are engaged and involved in how we are to be governed, what with Washington waging a daily assault on their way of life, it becomes difficult to understand how anyone can stand idly by and watch it all happen without lifting a finger. How did we get to this place?
During my parents' generation, and to some extent my own, we were taught to never discuss religion or politics with friends and co-workers, the notion seemed an eternal truth. Over time, in too many instances, to not talk about it resulted in not caring about it.
For those who do talk about it, many will readily complain about this or that without ever making the connections. They never seek to fully understand the source of their discomfort, much less what they can do about it. Perhaps the most common example is the parent who is routinely frustrated with their child's school but will never work to effect positive change there. Most individuals in this predicament will not even bother to vote in school board elections.
Then there are those who waste countless hours absorbed in things which matter not. Don't get me wrong, life requires a healthy balance. Indulging in relaxation or entertainment is great. Over-indulging while not bothering to lift a finger on behalf of one's civic duty is a different story. For those who are lost in today's proverbial circuses - be it Oprah, American Idol, People magazine or an ever-growing variety of sports and video games - they merely contribute to our collective problems.
Ultimately, most of us have a healthy respect for the truth and want to do the right thing but in today's world of slick professional liars and information overload truth can be elusive. Sorting through the cacophony of voices and differing views isn't so easy. Misconceptions are all too easily created and many react by seeking what they perceive as some hallowed middle-ground.
Again, harkening back to my generation, we were taught to trust and respect the nation's institutions of government, schools, religion and the media. For those who haven't noticed, these institutions have changed a good bit in the last several decades. The whole trust thing is in serious question.
Sure, government has always suffered from corruption and self-interest. We can debate whether or not it is more corrupt today than it was in an earlier era but government's unprecedented growth makes it much more dangerous now than ever before. Times such as these require that anything a politician or bureaucrat says should be measured with a good dose of skepticism.
More and more, public schools and universities have become mere extensions of government power, failing to teach our young much, if anything, about civic responsibility. Government of, by and for the people is more than a nifty slogan but actually requires "the people" to be well informed and engaged in their own governance.
When it comes to maintaining our liberties, leftist indoctrination has proven to be a poor substitute for actual education. The trend has been the mass production of citizens (and non-citizens) who believe government exists to solve everything.
Perhaps most disappointing has been the move towards so-called "enlightened" or progressive thinking in our churches. Today, political correctness has successfully infected many religious quarters. More and more rather than teaching us to care for ourselves and our fellow man, religious figures are teaching us to have the government do it, all in the name of "social justice."
As for the media, anyone who still gets their information from the alphabet networks or daily newspaper cannot help but be confused. Even Fox News is often to the left of much of the populace - it's just that they are well to the right of their competitors. Lump in the messages, both overt and subliminal, from Hollywood and network television, and one finds himself lost in the "Matrix." Most of the imagery, ideas and concepts sold to us from all directions 24/7, no longer accurately represents the American people. In this environment, illusion is increasingly difficult to discern from reality.
Like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water, many have become conditioned without realizing it. The barrage of corruption, misrepresentations and negativity we are exposed to can overwhelm the mind, inviting us to soothe it by simply not paying attention. We have learned to go along to get along rather than thinking for ourselves.
Eventually the unacceptable becomes acceptable. Political correctness and the subsequent erosion of our freedoms win the day. It is a continuous torment delivered in baby steps, an incremental creep slowly chipping away, fundamentally changing the landscape of America and the lives of her citizens with it. Chaos, division and dependency reign. Morality, common sense and freedom suffer.
Perhaps our citizenry lacks a proper understanding of government. Its natural tendency is to grow. Unabated, it can only become bloated, growing to suit itself. Once any form of government becomes un-tethered from the bounds established to limit and restrain it, it simply creates its own authority.
The result is government by fiat -- one which increasingly involves itself in the lives of its citizens. It is often cloaked in the guise of benevolence but increasingly operates by force. It stifles creativity and innovation, and punishes achievement. It takes from one citizen the bread he has earned and - after taking its cut - is likely to either waste it or give it to crony collaborators, perpetuating a dependent class that demands an ever larger government to care for them. It taxes and spends, and taxes and spends some more. Insatiable in its appetite, it amasses ruinous levels of debt. There is never enough to keep it fed.
Some may argue this is well and fine while others cannot be bothered. Regardless, we all suffer the unavoidable outcome -For every ounce of growth by government, the governed sacrifice an ounce of liberty.
Bargain Citizen is a writer, commentator, voice actor and videographer. His commentary and videos can be found at the blogsite ramparts360.com