At this very moment, somewhere in the world, a half-naked three-year-old is terrorizing a Wal-Mart while his mother does nothing.
It’s completely natural for three-year-olds to refuse clothing and terrorize Wal-Mart. Sort of like it’s natural for your dog to poop on your carpet. But parenting is the art of directing a child away from what comes natural and towards what is right.
So the real culprit in the Wal-Mart scenario isn’t who you think it is. The kid is just doing what seems normal. The real problem is the parent. For her, there’s nothing wrong with her half-naked boy emptying out a couple of dozen boxes of Apple Jacks on aisle 12. It’s just another Tuesday night at the grocery store.
You can tell a lot about people and societies by considering what they find to be normal.
So far this year, we have found out that our president abandoned his duties while those serving under him where murdered in Libya. Later we found out that the IRS was targeting conservative and religious groups seeking tax-exempt status. The administration quickly wrote this off as rogue, low-level agents. In the unlikely event of a tax-cut, this administration would never distance themselves by referring to it as the action of a rogue, low-level employee.
And more recently, we discovered that the government was listening in on the private conversations of reporters covering the president. This sort of bothered us but not really because it wasn’t our privacy that was being invaded. But Thursday we found out that our phones and e-mails were being hacked too.
Any one of these scandals should be enough to bring down a presidency. That hasn’t happened. Instead, many of those involved have been given promotions, remained silent or enjoyed a paid leave of absence.
The government is a lot like the kid terrorizing the cereal aisle at Wal-Mart. This kind of thing is what they do. For the most part, governments loathe individual liberty and do all they can to limit it while covering up their role in those attempted limitations. So in that regard all of these recent scandals should not surprise us. It’s just government doing what government likes to do.
The answer is not to do away with government just like the answer to the Wal-Mart problem is not to get rid of the kid. Instead, there has to be correction. To paraphrase Jefferson, when a government makes it their duty to correct it’s citizens, oppression and tyranny are always sure to follow. Instead, it is the job of the citizens to correct their government.
But we’ve gotten used to tyranny and called it normal. We believe so-called conservative politicians like Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham when they tell us that there’s nothing wrong with the government reading our e-mails or listening in on our phone calls. We forget that President Obama, a democrat, is simply following through with the powers that were given to his office through the Patriot Act, a bill signed into law by republican president George Bush. In short, we’ve gotten so caught up in the left-right paradigm that we have forgotten that oppression feels the same whether it comes from democrats or republicans.
I played army a lot as a kid. Most afternoons, my neighborhood became a war zone where my friends and I fought pretend battles to defend this country’s freedoms from the Soviet Union. Today, the threat to our freedom is still there but it’s not so much from the Soviet Union.
Today, the threat to liberty comes from our own elected officials. Men and women who have sold this country out for their own personal gain. All while waiving the flag, saying “God bless America” and doing their best to convince us that all of this is completely normal.
And the scary part is that too many Americans are starting to believe them.