An ugly trend continues to grow in America. Once held as the world’s standard, even if not entirely true, of liberty and tolerance, America has descended into darkness.
No longer do we follow the live and let live philosophy. The Golden Rule, or whatever variant you wish to describe it, has lost its place in our society. Instead our nation, down to the smallest of communities, has taken on an entirely different way of coexisting with our neighbors.
There was a time when minor disagreements were handled between neighbors in a somewhat diplomatic manner, and even if they weren’t diplomatic, the end result would not introduce the government into the disagreement. But we have drifted.
It isn’t just simple disagreements that end with government being called in to settle disputes; government is now actively used as a weapon against neighbors.
In the early 2000s, laws swept the nation preventing same-sex couples from marrying. Unsatisfied that gays were challenging the limitations on their freedoms, people began supporting politicians who sought to amend state constitutions to prevent same-sex marriages.
Instead of simply voicing their disapproval in homosexuality, conservatives sought government interference in the relationships of others. They used the force of government to tell people how to live within the boundaries their personal religious faiths set.
That turned into same-sex couples calling in the government to interfere on their behalf to force bakers and photographers to participate in something that violated their personal faith instead of finding an alternative.
In our hearts, we know the answer to this. The relationships of others have no impact on our daily lives and government should never have been brought in to act as a force to prevent that relationship. Likewise, we understand that people will disagree with us, even dislike us, and we do not have to force them to associate with us. There are always alternative solutions to including the government in our squabbles.
In 2014, John Crawford was shopping at a Wal-Mart in Ohio. He selected a toy BB gun from the shelf and carried it around while shopping. Another patron of the store, Ronald Richie, saw Crawford and employed a tactic commonly touted by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Called SWATting, Richie called 911 and grossly misrepresented Crawford, saying he was pointing the gun at people, trying to load it, etc; making Crawford into a threat so police would respond violently. They did. Crawford was shot and killed moments after police arrived on scene.
Richie later recanted much of his 911 claims, but the damage was done, Crawford was dead. This has been a tactic used many times by those who do not support gun rights. Because they believe they are right and others are wrong, they involve the government to its fullest end. Because of a political disagreement, they use the government as a weapon to hurt and potentially kill their political enemies.
A smaller town example is the recent news out of Gardendale, Alabama. A recent story from that town was recently picked up by several online publications, including Reason. It appears teenagers who cut grass in the summer for extra spending money will be forced to acquire a business license, which costs $110.
The grandmother of one of the teens affected is quoted in the article as saying, “One of the men that cuts several yards made a remark to one of our neighbors, ‘that if he saw her cutting grass again that he was going to call Gardendale because she didn’t have a business license,’”
Because he fears the teens will encroach on the business he believes he rightfully deserves, he plans to include the government to act on his behalf. This is unfortunately pretty common. Our economic system is designed around this. Business owners fear competition, so they call in the government to create new or more stringent regulations to prevent competitors from opening. It’s called cronyism.
These are a few examples, but this line of thinking has invaded our everyday lives. When a neighbor plays their music too loud, instead of knocking on their door, appealing to their better nature and asking them to turn down the volume, often the cops are called instead.
When someone does something we disagree with, we call in the government to prevent them from doing it instead of saying, this really doesn’t affect me.
Community outreach and activism has been replaced by lobbying government to force people to live and act as we believe they should. The government loves this; it makes it bigger and more powerful. It gives the president, congress, town councils, mayors, and state legislators more power than they ever should have had. It creates new government programs and bureaucracies. It increases budgets, which increases taxes.
The government actively encourages this behavior. It’s the “if you see something, say something” mentality taken to the extreme. The government wants us to be enemies and it wants us to use it, and only it, in settling our disputes and our disagreements. It doesn’t want us understanding that we get a long a lot better without it interfering.
We have to stop relying on the government to solve all of our problems, because our biggest problem is the government itself. The biggest violator of our freedoms is the government, not our neighbors. The lawn mowing example from above, the main issue wasn’t that kids had an unfair advantage in mowing grass without a business license, but that the business owner needed a license himself. So the mayor’s answer is to create a new type of business license, and the government gets bigger.
We have weaponized the government to use it against each other, and the only possible outcome of that is having it used against us in return.
Mark Anderson lives in Frederick County, Virginia, where he chairs the libertarian advocacy group Frederick County Libertarians. He was the 2015 Libertarian Party candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 33rd District. Mark is currently earning his Associates Degree in Business Administration with plans to study Economics at George Mason University.