Freedom Comes With Responsibility

Ok, ok people, I get it – you’re pissed off with our government.  You’re mad because the economy is in the toilet.  You’re unemployed and you’re worried about losing your home.  You looked to President Obama to walk into office and change the way things are done in Washington and you’re realizing it’s just not going to happen.  So you’re mad and you want everyone to know it.  So what do you do?  You go out and legally purchase a 9mm Glock 17 semi automatic weapon and head out to your local meet and greet held by a congresswoman and open fire on a bunch of innocent people.  It just so happens that the suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, had a prior record when he went in to the gun store to buy that gun “legally”.

I think the quote of the day yesterday came from Clarence W. Dupnik, the Pima County, AZ sheriff, when he said, “That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”  He’s referring to the dangers of today’s political climate in this country.

Everybody has the right to voice their opinion in this country – that’s the beauty of the First Amendment to our Constitution.  But as I learned in my 9th grade Civics class, with every right comes responsibility.  Sure, you can say you disagree with President Obama’s handling of healthcare reform, but you can’t tell people you’re going to physically harm the man if he doesn’t do it your way.  You can’t yell FIRE! in a theatre but you can tell the person next to you that the flick you’re seeing sucks.  It’s as simple as that.

Yet this clown who shot up the meeting in Arizona yesterday had a long list of warning shots that he fired across our bow.  He had been kicked out of school for being disruptive.  He had anti government rhetoric posted on his MySpace page, and he had several videos posted on YouTube that gave us clues that he was a bubble off-center.  So much so that YouTube pulled several of his videos.  Yes, he was exercising his right to free speech as an American.  But he was irresponsible with that right.

This brings me to my point.  People often complain about the government monitoring our moves.  Since 9/11 the government has reserved special rights to monitor our communications.  Believe it or not, they do scour Facebook and MySpace for information they say they use to protect us.  Sorry, people, but this is one of the side effects of 9/11.  We say we want to be able to fly safely on airplanes yet we complain about having to go through a body scanner?  There is a price we all must pay for our safety and that’s just the way it is now in the world we live in.  If you’re dumb enough to post a video on YouTube of you burning the American flag, then you’re going to draw someone’s attention.  If that’s your intent, then you’ve succeeded.

But the government can’t keep track of all the weirdos out there because there are simply too many of them.  Loughner sent out many clues and he was able to slip through the cracks and he won’t be the last to do that.  But this tragedy should serve as a lesson to us all that we either should put up or shut up.  Yes, these are ridiculously passionate political times and it’s causing a huge stress fracture in our society.  However, the ever-elusive strength of common sense has to come into play and overrule the angst many of us are feeling toward the government.  Remember, YOU elected these idiots in Washington that everyone feels doesn’t do their jobs.  If you don’t like the people you have the option of voting for, then get someone else in there.  That’s why the Tea Party has been started.  That’s why you’re seeing new political parties starting up all the time these days.  In a democracy, this is how it has to work – you’re only other option is an armed revolt.  Remember when we did that before?

I haven’t voted since the last Reagan term.  I decided a long time ago that my one vote doesn’t really make a difference so I opted to stay out of the process.  That’s my right.  The responsibility that comes with that right, for me, is to not criticize our government because I don’t take part in it.  I don’t have the right to criticize them because I don’t vote.  I have the same opinion of government that I had back when I used to vote.  I just feel that I don’t make a difference.  But if you vote, you have a responsibility to do everything you can to make your government your OWN.  If you’re not willing to do that, then shut the &$^%# up! 

Just because you disagree with the people in office doesn’t mean you grab a gun and go on a shooting spree.  Maybe it should mean you sit down and organize a new party or maybe start talking to people about your beliefs and how you can change things and then run for an office!  You know, you can do that here in America!  You never know, you as one person might be able to actually make some sort of difference which would inspire me to get out and register to vote!  Wow, what a concept.  Only in America!

I knew this was coming years ago.  What we’re experiencing is a needed change in our government.  The old, career politicians are slowly being weeded out and being replaced by younger, more dynamic thinkers.  The country is demanding it now and the landscape in Washington is changing but it will take time.  It’s not the first time it’s happened and it won’t be the last.  But remember, people, there are millions of people on this planet that don’t get the rights and responsibilities we Americans do.  Instead of fighting about it, we should embrace our unique position and use it to the advantage of all of us.

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