I’m not the only one asking this question. A startling message came through to me on Facebook a few weeks ago—even before the Steve Scalise shooting. It was from a business acquaintance in India whom I’ve corresponded with for the past five years. His message: “Are you safe? America seems in big chaos and trouble. If you need to escape, you and your family can stay with my family.”
So I’m not alone in this uneasy feeling that America is walking on the edge.
What do workers, sightseers, or bikers do when they come to the edge of a cliff? Either plunge over to their demise or push back to safety. Standing on the edge for too long leads to anxiety at best and destruction at worst.
For the past several months, I’ve been trying to collect my thoughts on why, after all these years, I feel fearful about freedom. After all, terrorism, racial tension, and nuclear threats are nothing new.
Something else is in the air.
Peggy Noonan, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal, recently scolded both political parties with her line, “Democracy is not your plaything.” Political rancor, misrepresentation, deception, and outright lying on both sides of the aisle and between the left and the right has reached a fevered pitch. But that’s not new.
Neither is it news that those who call themselves journalists dish out biased reporting, selecting which stories to report and which to ignore and shaping attitudes by the language they use and the tone they choose in their coverage.
What is new? This: How pervasive the discord has become. The degree to which it has gridlocked our government. The intimidation now used to destroy businesses with an opposing opinion. The intimidation used to destroy an individual’s reputation, job, and livelihood if they voice an opposing viewpoint. The anarchy reigning on university campuses.
Every time I sling my belongings on the TSA conveyor belt at the airport, I realize how much the convenience of an openly free society is slipping away. Recently, TSA announced even more stringent regulations will be introduced at the end of the summer travel season. Those who travel with their job—particularly internationally—understand that the safety regulations affect more than convenience. They affect productivity and the pocketbook. “Safe” travelers must pay to skip the long lines and then must still concern themselves about a bomb scare in the terminal that causes a late or cancelled flight.
And who goes to a concert or sporting event in a large venue today without looking around at the crowd and thinking, “Sure hope some crazy suicide bomber isn’t loose in here?”
In the past, personal responsibility meant to learn, earn, succeed, give back to the less fortunate and less able-bodied who needed assistance. Today, personal responsibility has come to mean “I’m responsible to get all that I’m entitled to receive.”
Coptic Christians are being slaughtered in Egypt. Islamic extremists have declared Jihad on all other faiths in the name of their false religion. Congress passes laws and the federal court system rules on matters of religious liberty routinely, as businesses and individuals struggle to maintain freedom to practice their religious beliefs.
Those who’ve never fought or sacrificed for freedom—or lost someone who has–-can never appreciate its fragility. Those who fail to speak up to protect it may soon find themselves silenced for good. Be grateful for the freedom you enjoy today. Never take it for granted.