Guest Cloumn: Response to Gregory Campbell

I want to respond to Gregory Campbell’s guest column “Save America for your children” (Aug. 29, 2007, issue). We as a society are either better or worse off as a result of actions taken in the past by our leaders and those whose job it is to safeguard our freedoms and preserve our way of life. What could explain the extent to which some leaders go to cover up their blunders, lie, and point their fingers? Citing “fallen human nature” as the weak link in our genetic makeup is not one of them, as Greg points out.

I proffer that the reason freedom is revered as a foundational principle of Western-style democracies is because it stands ready to support us when it is exercised on behalf of a common cause or worthy enterprise and not when it is viewed as just another virtue among virtues to be exploited or run into the ground. To the degree that freedom is subservient to the caprices of those without the wherewithal to understand the responsibilities that accompany it is an affront to reason and good judgment.

The faith placed in leaders to give voice to our concerns and advocate on our behalf must also be the kind that holds them accountable for keeping their word and playing by the same rules as the rest of us. A confluence of politically-charged events may figure as a reliable gauge of where things are headed, but it could also satisfy certain people’s need to find a hook for particular beliefs or prejudices weighing us down.

Progress in scientific and cultural endeavors require our being able to cast our nets wide and to use our present knowledge base to expand our view of the universe. We are not the first or the last on the human scene to taste the fruits of hard-won freedom. What gives us pause should leave us wanting to learn more about differing political and cultural points of view, social contracts, business models, etc. Scapegoating “fallen human nature” is not a rational response to the needs around us that go unaddressed.

Most expectations of freedom entail some degree of service to others before it can be used effectively to garner public support. However imperfect the ideal of freedom is understood, is it too much to expect our leaders in public service to articulate for us their strategy for getting done what they are being paid to do and how people of middle-class upbringing can be vested equally in the outcome? If so, then it matters less that someone on the front line happens to be a Republican or a Democrat, a neophyte or a radical, a graduate of Yale or a crotchety bellwether.

Ron Anderson is a local resident, professional musician and information junkie.

from the Oct. 10, 2007, issue

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