Saturday, May 11, 2013

Freedom without discipline

We Americans sure love our freedom, and if we believe somebody is trying to interfere with it, we do not hesitate to stand our ground.
This phenomenon manifests itself in numerous ways both here at home and internationally. For example, we have been fighting a war in Afghanistan since 2001 in the aftermath of an attack by extremists on our country.
Islamic extremists killed thousands of Americans and made us fear our way of life was in danger. Because of this, the beat has been going on in Afghanistan for almost 12 years. In some ways, it almost feels like the conflict has become a forgotten war because it has been going on so long.
Maybe this is because the mainstream media really does not dedicate the amount of coverage to it that it deserves. During the Obama administration, the war has become less of a media issue compared to the Bush administration, or at least it seems that way.
We see this standing up for freedom on an everyday level here in our country, too. As a society, we constantly try to redefine some of the most basic elements of our country in order to insure everybody’s freedom is being protected. There has been a lot of disagreement on some of these issues, and they will continue to play out in coming years.
There are no easy answers. For example, the definition of marital unions has been changed in several states, and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court will make some big decisions regarding it. For all the apathy in our country, this is one issue in which apparently everybody has an opinion.
The definition of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” can be pretty broad, and as our country continues, the interpretation of that phrase will have a big impact on us all.
For all the freedom we have, do we have to consider at some point that a society can have too much freedom? If so, where is the cutting off point?
The Bill of Rights guarantees us freedom of speech, but we can’t go into a crowded movie theater and scream “Fire!” just because we feel we have the right to do it. There are limits to our freedoms, and we will continue to test those limits like we have since the founding of our country.
However, as the definition of freedom continues to evolve, I hope we do not forget how important discipline is in defining this concept. Depending on the circumstances, discipline can restrain us, but it can also protect us from ourselves sometimes.
We can become so blinded by the concept of freedom that we feel nothing should stand in its way. While that sounds ridiculous in some ways, it is not that farfetched today.
Just as Islamic extremists have threatened our country, extremists from within America can be just as dangerous. It is does not matter if they come from the far left or the far right of the political spectrum. When groups lose sight of the common good, then they tend to favor a version of America where their vision rules and everybody else should just sit and take it.
It requires discipline to consider the needs of everybody when it comes to making a country work. Though many may not want to admit it, discipline is probably one of the key ingredients that causes freedom to thrive. If we lose that, watch out.
So, as our country moves forward, I hope we will all have the discipline to put the needs of everybody on the same level as our own. This is not always easy to do, but it would be a refreshing change.

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