Today a friend half-jokingly mentioned that it appears I am on a crusade concerning tattoos. Well…not exactly.
Have you ever purchased a vehicle of a particular make & model, and after getting it you notice how many of them suddenly are on the road? Of course there aren’t suddenly more of them on the road; you just notice more of them. Likewise, since I got sleeved several months ago I now take note of more stories concerning tattoos. And, sadly, a lot of them discuss the mindless prejudice that many Americans have concerning tattoos.
So…is it really all about tattoos? NO!
A lot of Americans these days have grave concerns about the apparent loss of liberty that is taking place in this country, and fear that even greater losses of liberty are coming. A recent poll revealed that 29% of Americans believe that we will have to resort to armed rebellion against the federal government if we want to protect our rights. I don’t know how you see it, but 29% of Americans believing that violence is the only way to preserve our rights is a HUGE number.
But here’s the problem. Americans see the issue of liberty, and “their rights” as something that is exclusively the domain of one’s relationship with government. Americans seem to believe that they can act day in and day out in a way that rejects liberty in their interactions with their fellow citizens, and yet expect to magically preserve it for themselves by griping at the government. It appears Americans have forgotten that like charity, liberty begins at home. Or phrased more precisely, liberty is something you plant the seeds of every day in your own community through your actions with your fellow citizens. Like dignity, it is something you give to others and expect in return. Sadly, we are doing anything but that.
It may be completely appropriate to demand that the government respect your rights and not diminish your liberty, but that is a wholly worthless sentiment that will accomplish nothing if liberty is not an “American mindset” at home, in the workplace, and is not present in our interactions with one another.
Americans are the architects of their own loss of liberty. They can gripe all they want about government, but they are murdering liberty every day by the way they reject it in their interactions with others. They wish to receive it, but they don’t wish to give it – or live it. Today’s concept of liberty in the minds of all too many Americans matches the old adage “For me, but not thee”. In other words Americans feel passionately about liberty for themselves, but have no interest in ensuring their fellow citizens are receiving it. A selfish self-centered people can never sustain liberty because liberty is based on morality and virtue. Selfishness and self-centeredness are neither.
A debate has been on-going for a few years in this country concerning whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to marry. After much reflection and debate, it is easy and accurate to describe the two opposing sides as; those who believe every American is entitled to equal rights, versus those who want to prohibit a minority from enjoying the same rights the majority enjoys. And no matter what rationale they give for denying equal rights, every argument boils down to “I don’t like it.” That makes sense because homosexuals getting married does harm to no one. Since it does harm to no one, the only possible objection must be merely someone’s “opinion”. Simply more of “For me, but not thee.”
Now we return to the tattoo issue. Visible tattoos on the arms harm no one. Yet, despite this, 61% of human resource directors say that having such tattoos may prevent an applicant from being hired. Again, since ink on one’s arms harms no one, people are being denied the ability to earn a living based on someone’s absurd “opinion”.
What these examples (and many others) tell us is that Americans (that’s YOU!) only want their fellow citizens to enjoy liberty on the “community” basis – that is, liberty provided to others by YOU (not government) – if the person you are interacting with is “just like you”. In other words “I will address you with a heart for liberty only if you conform to how I think you should look, think, and act.” Or phrased another way “I will not offer you liberty because you are ‘different’ than me. You are not in compliance with how I want you to look and act.” Holy cow! How can a society that thinks like THAT have any expectation of being a country of liberty? The very notion is preposterous!
Many people who oppose equal marriage rights for all Americans believe fervently in the right to keep and bear arms and see those who would take away their guns as “the enemy”. I have pointed out to these people that the anti-gunners see “gun rights” in the same way pro-gunners reject equal marriage rights. The anti-gunner’s “opinion” is that law-abiding citizens should not be allowed to own guns. The “opinion” of many pro-gunners is that homosexuals should not have equal marriage rights. Law abiding citizens harm no one with guns and homosexuals marrying harms no one. Despite this obvious parallel, both sides are working feverishly to insure their “opinions” become law so that the “other guys” – you know…the ones who are ‘different’ than you – can be deprived of parts of their liberty. Insanity!!!!
Should the anti-equal rights, pro-gun, crowd prevail and block gays from marrying, I can see no logical reason they should be upset in the least when the majority votes to take away their guns. If mere “opinion” can be converted into law to stop one minority from enjoying a particular right, I can’t find a good reason for the majority on another issue not to successfully take away some other right (gun ownership) from that minority. What’s good for the goose…, right?
My point is that whether it is gay marriage, gun rights, or a job for the guy with tattoos on his arm, or a myriad of other issues, Americans have ZERO interest in securing the blessings of liberty to anyone but themselves – or possibly people they recognize as being within “their group”, defined as people who look, think, and act, just like them.
So…my issue is not about tattoos. It is with a nation in which citizens scream for their own liberty while working vigorously (politically and in personal interactions in their community) to deny it to others.
The open festering wound of hypocrisy that was a part of this nation’s early years was citizens professing a love and respect for liberty while allowing people to own other human beings. That moral hypocrisy – which spit in the face of liberty – did not directly result in the Civil War, but I believe the karma of this nation permitting slavery is what killed 620,000 Americans in the Civil War.
Today in all manner of things, big and small, Americans are working feverishly to re-create that same karma of hypocrisy against liberty – “For me, but not thee”. Unless Americans recognize what they are doing, and end it, and start filling their hearts with the desire to expand liberty to everyone, in every circumstance possible, instead of being miserly and petty in denying it, we are doomed as a free country.
And I am not the only one who sees it that way:
“What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.
~ Judge Learned Hand