There will come a time when we will sit
down to the banquet of our consequences.
~Robert Louis Stevenson~
The other day I read an article which piqued my interest. It seems that San Francisco 49er Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is angry that no teams have made him an offer since becoming a free agent. While I enjoy watching a good football game I’m not what you would call a fan of football. But this story piqued my interest for another reason. I feel it is representative of a problem that permeates society today; the fact that a great many people do not accept the fact that there are consequences to their actions.
Whether I personally agree or disagree with Mr. Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem is irrelevant, I support his right to protest whatever cause he chooses to support by remaining seated during the playing of that song. But it seems he has forgotten that he is not only an employee of the 49er franchise, he is also a representative of the National Football League, and his actions caused a tidal wave of angry responses from patriotic football fans who felt the he had disgraced and dishonored his country. No one wants to be the one who hires someone who could blemish their reputation or bring discredit to their franchise.
While I personally wish no harm to the guy, he is learning the painful fact that there are consequences to pissing off a lot of people; people whose support your team needs to fill stadiums. Above everything else, the NFL is a business, and no one is going to hire someone who they believe will harm their bottom line. Mr. Kaepernick, as well as a great many others in this country, when faced with the consequences of their own actions, often seek to shift the blame to others, or get angry that they are expected to pay the piper for their actions. And if you ask me, that is a serious problem in America today.
When I was growing up my parents set limits upon what was considered acceptable behavior. If I crossed those limits I was punished; often by spanking. I remember one time my father hit me with a closed fist when I uttered the F word in front of my mother. I didn’t grow up hating my parents; even though my father and I butted heads all the time. I didn’t grow up to be a social misfit, or cry that I was a victim of abuse. I learned that there were consequences to my actions, and if I did something wrong that I would pay them. As long as I stayed within the limits of what my parents considered acceptable behavior, life was good. However, the moment I crossed the line and did something wrong, life could go from good to bad in a New York minute.
Could this be why, nowadays, that crime is so prevalent; because people have not been taught that there are consequences for violating the laws society expects people to adhere to? While I am the first to stand up and decry laws which violate my rights, I also understand that certain actions people take violate the rights of others, and that it is for this purpose that civil societies form together in the first place; to protect the rights of all their members.
Yet when some miscreant violates a law and brings harm to another, or attempts to deprive them of their property, and the system, or the individual having harm done to them, ends that miscreants life, a good portion of society cries foul. They come together and protest; saying he was a good kid and didn’t deserve to die. NO! Good kids do not rob others. Good kids do not attempt to steal from others. While it may not be their fault, the fact is that these miscreants, and those who protest their demise when the commit a crime against society, have seemed to forget that there are consequences to your actions, and if you attempt to steal, or bring harm to another you may find out the hard way that those consequences can be life ending.
What is even a worse statement upon how society views the consequences of people’s actions is how they often treat those who are only standing up for their rights. One of the most fundamental rights people have is the right of self-defense. Self-defense is not only the right to protect oneself from harm; it also includes the right to protect your property, and your liberty as well.
As Samuel Adams wrote in 1772, “Among the Natural Rights of the Colonists are these First. a Right to Life; Secondly to Liberty; thirdly to Property; together with the Right to support and defend them in the best manner they can–Those are evident Branches of, rather than deductions from the Duty of Self Preservation, commonly called the first Law of Nature.” (Source: The Rights of the Colonists, 20 Nov. 1772)
To pass laws which dictate when and where a person can use force to defend themselves or their property, or to take away their ability to do so by not allowing them the means to defend these things, violates the most fundamental right human beings have; the right to defend what is theirs.
Since I have already mentioned the word protest, let me continue on in that vein for a moment. I’m all for protesting whatever perceived slights you may believe government, or society to be guilty of. But the First Amendment clearly states, “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the … right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The key word there that people seem to have forgotten is peaceably. When in the course of protesting you bring harm to others, or cause destruction to the property of others, that is not a peaceable protest; that is rioting. You have the right to voice your displeasure over almost anything, but the moment you cause destruction, or bring harm to another, you have crossed the line and should be punished. Those who attack Trump supporters are not protesting; they are committing assault, which is a crime.
Our country was founded by men who protested the actions of their government; the most notable of these protests being the Boston Tea Party. While the participants did cause damage to property, it was not the property of their neighbors or local businesses. I find it just a tad bit ironic that those protesting the election of Donald Trump got plenty of positive news coverage, yet they were not truly protesting in a manner that would bring about the kind of change they wanted; they were simply whining that someone they didn’t like won the election.
Compare that to the actions of LaVoy Finicum, who took his protest straight to the enemy, (The Bureau of Land Management) and how the news portrayed him and his associates as threats to society, and you’ll see that protesting has become a way in which people are allowed to voice their displeasure over whatever issue, or cause they oppose, yet keeps them from focusing on the real enemy; an abusive and unconstitutional government.
I know this is kind of off track, but just look at how a large number of people view Edward Snowden. His way of protesting the spying upon the American people was to leak the actions of the NSA to the press. In doing so he was labeled a traitor and forced to flee the country to avoid prosecution. Yet who was the real criminal; Snowden for telling us, or the government for actually doing the things he tried to tell us about?
That’s the same way I feel about the whole Wikileaks thing with the Clinton e-mails. Wikileaks, along with the supposed ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin are now viewed as the criminals, yet the people ignore the content of those leaked e mails as if they are irrelevant.
But these consequences are not confined to local, and even national issues; they span our actions as a nation on a global scale. If you had a beehive or a hornet’s nest in your back yard you probably know that those things can sting you. Therefore, the prudent course of action would be to not antagonize them.
Yet across the globe, particularly in the Middle East, there are people whose religious beliefs differ from ours, and whose cultural beliefs run counter to the freedoms we take for granted in America. Instead of being a free society, theirs is often a theocracy in which the laws they must obey in society are based upon their religious belief system.
They may, nor may not hate us because of the freedoms we enjoy. But you can rest assured they hate us because our government is constantly meddling in the internal affairs of their country. We orchestrate coups to oust duly elected leaders; we support rebels who bring war and destruction to their lands; we seek to replace those leaders who are not friendly to our business interests and replace them with those who are.
And people don’t expect any consequences from all this meddling? Just look at how a large portion of American society is upset over allegations that the Russians somehow influenced a single US Presidential election. How would we feel if things like that had been going on for decades? And we wonder why we see them retaliate with terrorist acts. After all, it is not like they have an army or a navy that they can send to America to fight us; so they use whatever means they can to inflict fear, or damage, to our country.
And then, the politically uninformed want to allow those whose lands we have bombed into the Stone Age immigrate to our country and live among us. That’s like bringing the beehive into your home AFTER you have hosed it down with water; you’re just begging to get stung. It’s bad enough that their religious views and our belief in freedom are incompatible with each other; but we want to piss them off even more, then allow them to come live among us.
Have we lost our minds?
In 1821, while serving as Secretary of State under President James Monroe, John Quincy Adams delivered a speech celebrating America’s independence in. In his speech Adams states, “America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. …Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”
The consequence of our nation not adhering to the beliefs expressed in those words is that many nations, and peoples, despise, or hate America. They hate our government for meddling in the affairs of their countries, and they hate the American people because we continue to elect candidates who continue to do so.
Yet our misguided understanding of what it means to be a patriot does not allow us to see that. We believe that patriotism is standing behind your country, and its government, whenever they tell us it is in the name of national security that they do these things. For crying out loud, what threat does ISIS or Syria pose the US? They are over 6,000 miles from us. If we would leave them alone and stop trying to topple Assad, maybe they would leave us alone. How would we feel if China or North Korea sent arms to the opponents of Trump to topple him? But our sense of self-righteousness blinds us to the fact that there is a very good possibility that much of this so-called terrorism is the direct consequence of our government’s foreign policy towards other nations.
And finally, returning to the home front, there is one more consequence I’d like to discuss. It’s almost universally accepted by the people of this country that there is something wrong in government today. It is why a good number of Democrats fell in behind Bernie Sanders, and why Donald Trump was elected; the belief that the problem is too many career politicians, or insiders, are in control and that someone from the outside was needed to fix America.
That is a misguided belief; the problem is not that there are too many career politicians, it is that the government no longer follows the guidelines for how it was to be structured, or the limits imposed upon its actions.
The government was established, primarily to manage the affairs of the nation as they related to the interaction of the States between each other. The States, on the other hand, were to see to the needs and desires of the people. In Federalist 45 James Madison explained it like this, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
While the States may pass some laws which directly affect the citizens of each State, how many laws does the federal government pass which directly affect us? It was never intended to be that way, the federal government was supposed to stay out of the lives of the people.
On top of all that, over time, the federal government began to exert control over the States, placing it above the States. Yet prior to the above quote from Madison, he had also said, “The State governments may be regarded as constituent and essential parts of the federal government; whilst the latter is nowise essential to the operation or organization of the former.”
The States were part of the federal government in that they chose the representatives in the Senate. When the Civil War happened, it was not so much a war between the North and the South as it was a war between those who still held to the belief that the States were sovereign, and the federal government, which had come to belief that is was above and superior to the States. With the loss of the Confederacy, the federal government became almost omnipotent in its exercise of power; and with the ratification of the 17th Amendment the States lost all say in the actions of the federal government.
The consequence here is that, because people no longer understand how our system of government was structured in its original form, or the powers which were given it, it has become far more tyrannical and oppressive than the one our Founders fought to free themselves from.
Yet we go about our lives, voting every couple of years for Democrats or Republicans, thinking that our respective political parties have the answer to all the problems this country faces. The answer to our problems lies not in giving government more power, but seeking to turn things around and begin taking much of the power it has away.
But we cannot do that until the people put aside their ridiculous faith in party ideologies, and begin studying what the Constitution and Bill of Rights say. We cannot begin to understand what those documents mean until we begin studying the thoughts and views of the men alive at the time they were written.
And I simply don’t see that happening. Americans have become used to fast in almost everything. Instant messaging; microwave ovens that can heat your food in seconds, and TV shows that have a resolution to situations in half an hour. We want things done now, quickly and with as little exertion on our part as possible. People, for the most part, are not going to take time from their entertainment to study like others have. They care little for cracking open a book containing the writings of men like Locke, Jefferson, Samuel Adams, or Patrick Henry.
So, until the people change their attitudes and start learning what our Constitution says and means, America will continue to suffer the consequences of their ignorance.