Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How I Stopped Being Angry OR How I Became A Libertarian OR How The US Government Discriminates

            I used to be like you. I used to have opinions about major issues. And by issues, I mean hot button topics turned into 5-alarm fires by the media and political armies. I used to be very angry. And I used to be very depressed. As I struggled to fix the depression in my life, addressing the things I had control over and the things I did not, I started to notice that there were a whole lot of things happening in the world that I had not an ounce of control over. I recognized that harboring anger about them was not only not constructive, it was destructive. It was getting me nowhere. And then, I made a huge leap and took this very complicated concept (and I only say it’s complicated because so few people are able to apply it to their lives) and applied it to my political beliefs. “That has nothing to do with me.”
            Both sides of the American political equation want to believe that what other people are doing directly affects their own lives. It’s a strangely narcissistic tendency. Some people want to create laws to keep people from doing things that they wouldn’t do. Some people want to outlaw things to make sure that some random overly sensitive person doesn’t run the risk of feeling different because of the beliefs they have willingly chosen. And then there’s me, and the people in my boat. We don’t care WHAT you do. We don’t want to keep you from doing what you want to do. And we don’t want to force you to do anything that might make you uncomfortable. You can do whatever you want! It’s a free country and that’s how we want to keep it, because what you do in your private life HAS NO EFFECT ON US.
            Are you confused? Let me show you a little bit how this works. We’ll take some “issues” and apply the magic phrase “this has nothing to do with me.” Let’s start with a practice test… easy. Your neighbor wants to stick his feet in peanut butter and leave footprints on his bathroom wall. What do you do? Answer: Nothing. It has no effect on you and has nothing to do with you. Practice test two, a little bit harder. Your neighbor is sleeping naked in his fenced in backyard during the month of July. What do you do? Answer: Nothing. Your neighbor might be a weirdo, and he’s going to get a shit ton of bug bites, but this has no effect on your life! Nothing to do with you!
Before Maury Povich.
            Let’s make it a little bit harder. Birth control. I know that’s a big issue for some people, as in there are a lot of religious folk out there who don’t think that anyone should have access to it. Well, here’s a great example of putting the magic phrase to work. Whether or not a woman you do or don’t know takes birth control has nothing to do with you. It doesn’t affect you. It’s none of your business. (I mean, in the long run you could argue that it will affect you because you may have to pay for something for the child through the system of taxation, blah blah blah, but come on, in that respect birth control is actually going to work IN YOUR FAVOR, so argument squashed. SHH). So…. The government shouldn’t be regulating it. Abortion. If a woman wants to have an abortion: is that going to affect my life? No. It doesn’t matter whether I agree with her decision. It doesn’t matter what I want her to do. It has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. It will not affect my life in any way at all. The only way I can think of would be if it WERE me, or if it were a friend of mine, in which case the effect would be my having to stand up and be a rock to lean on. And where does the government factor into that? Nowhere. The government should not regulate it.
            GAY MARRIAGE. If two gay men or women want to get married, please explain to me how in the world that has any effect on anyone but the two people getting married? How? How does that hurt anyone? That’s right, it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with them. It doesn’t matter if you think they’re going to hell. It doesn’t affect you. It has nothing to do with you. (For the record, just to be clear, I think gay people SHOULD be able to get married. I don’t believe in government regulation of anyone’s marriage. You know the only reason they make you get a license is so they can extract more money from your wallet. I feel compelled to speak up for what I morally believe to be right and that is equality in opportunity for quality of life. I also believe that gay couples make great parents. I know some and I love them and I know their son loves them too. People are people and discrimination is WRONG).
            Now the really hot button issue right now is gun control. And this is where things do start to blur. Whether or not someone has a gun, this could potentially affect your life. It could also not affect your life. I don’t have an answer for this. I do know that it is not my right to diminish the feelings of safety that one person may get from owning a gun, whether or not it actually makes them safer. It is not my right to diminish the feelings of strength in the face of their government one may get from owning a gun, even if I personally find that to be false. It is not my right to tell someone that they are a bad person because they own or want to own a weapon. I know very sensible, kind people who have permits to carry concealed firearms. The only place that I have a say in this issue is to say, “Do not harm my friends, loved ones, or other citizens of the country in which I live.” That is the only way in which someone owning a gun could affect my life.
            I can’t tell you what the answers are to how the government should regulate the purchase and ownership of guns because I don’t know. I don’t want to own a gun, so I probably won’t ever know the answer. I’m not worried that guns will ever be unavailable. If I know one thing for certain, it’s that the surest way to drive up the market value of an object is to make it illegal. Look at prohibition. Look at the drug war. Marijuana’s illegal and you could probably sneeze on the street and find someone who could get it for you.
            The government is supposed to protect us at home and afar. They want us to think they’re doing that with this debate about gun control, but actionably they are not. The Americans that were being held hostage in Algeria would attest to that if they were still alive. A hostage exchange was proposed: two American hostages for two jailed terrorists. The two terrorists that our government refused to exchange for American life, while undoubtably criminal, were a blind senior citizen and someone who shot at FBI agents and missed. Our government “doesn’t negotiate with terrorists.” By not negotiating, they are complicit in the deaths of the American hostages. 
If the idea of remote controlled killer planes doesn't creep
you out at least a little, there might be something wrong
with you.
            Not only that, but they ARE terrorists themselves. (May I again state, people are people and discrimination is wrong). The government continues its drone war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, knowing full well that by doing so they are preventing the inoculation of thousands of children against polio. (The Taliban forbids UNICEF’s polio vaccinations in Pakistan until the drone war stops). In fact, just a couple of days ago it was reported that the Obama administration has decided to be very lenient with the CIA in allowing the drone killings* to continue and not subject them to what they are nonchalantly calling their counterterrorism ‘playbook,’ as if taking the lives of others were as lighthearted as a football game. So, if you’d like to be angry about something, don’t be angry about things that have nothing to do with you. Don’t be angry that gay people want to get married. Don’t be angry that a scared young woman doesn’t feel ready to have a child. Be angry that your government is using your money to kill children, by proxy, in other countries, NOT keep your fellow citizens safe, and exterminate anyone deemed a terrorist without giving them a trial in any nation or even a look in the eye.

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