Letter: It’s on us to avoid extremes in a free society
Once again, thank you for printing Butch Mazzuca’s opinion pieces. His “The left-right continuum” in the May 11 Vail Daily takes a good look at the extreme of everything being controlled by the government, vs. nothing being controlled by it.
The idea of limited government makes a lot of sense, and works best when citizens are willing to take personal responsibility as they exercise their rights, and understand that the freedom to swing their arms ends at the other person’s nose. The level of discipline in a population, and the extent to which its citizens understand that one’s personal freedom has to be balanced with an appreciation of the common good, can go a long way toward determining the extent to which government can be limited and peace maintained. If the citizenry resists taking on this responsibility, the government tends to try to force them to do it. Nothing endangers a right faster than people exercising that right irresponsibly.
The attitude that “it’s all about me” is pretty rampant in America today, from people who have learned to game our system of safety nets, to people who defy warnings about safety in our current crisis, which will only lead to enforcement. Another important continuum in this country, then, is the “all about me attitude” vs. the “all about the village and forget about you” attitude. Looking at it this way puts more control in the hands of the citizens, vs. putting it all in the hands of whomever they feel is victimizing them, be it the government, corporations or whatever villain they want to demonize.
So a major challenge in a free society such as ours is to avoid the extremes of that continuum and strike that tricky balance in the middle — and this is very much up to the citizens. It’s affected by their day-to-day personal actions, the people they vote into office, the businesses they decide to patronize, the places where they put any extra time or money they may have, how they express their opinions, the extent to which they have and hold values, how much and in what ways they keep involved and informed — and how willing they are to accept well-founded information they don’t want to hear.