This week, I’m going to keep on ranting about a topic I touched on last time: hey, crusaders– the government isn’t supposed to be a reflection of your personal morality. You’ve got your cause. You care soooooooo much. And you want everyone else to care too, and not just care, but care soooooooo much with an equal amount of o’s as you care. You’re all fired up with your petition you want everyone to sign. You are on a mission to make the government create a rule to make your personal issue the law of the land. You light up your Facebook and Twitter with your opinions. Maybe in the end you and your like-minded crusaders even succeed and get that law so everyone has to abide by your personal moral code. Go you! Way to stick to your guns!
But here’s the thing, morality maven: just because (abortion, guns, alcohol, whatever issue you think needs addressing that isn’t actually already a law) has been made illegal, that doesn’t mean people aren’t going to do it. It truly doesn’t. Women with no access to safe abortions do dangerous stuff to get it done (or go somewhere fancy and safe if they have the money.), people who want to use a gun to kill someone are going to get that gun, and Prohibition proved quite clearly that no law can stop people from drinking.
Laws do not change morality. A person who wants to get a gun to murder another person is going to get that gun. And even if the law preventing them from getting a gun works, they’re going to get that murdering done another way. An anti-gun law is not what will help that person not kill. This is not a problem with a quick fix. Perhaps the problem is a society that glorifies violence. Perhaps the problem is the way kids are raised. Perhaps the problem is that troubled people do not have access to the mental health care they need. Perhaps the problem is a combination of all of that, plus other issues besides. This issue (and pretty much any issue) is deep. It is complex. It is not going to be fixed by a rule.
Oh, and in regard to your Facebook/Twitter posts, those don’t change anyone’s views. They just piss off the people who don’t agree with you, and make the people who agree already feel happy. It may cause a big social media battle between your For and Against friends, and you may feel like you’re opening up the discourse and helping the cause, but really you’re just contributing to the ugly, horrible, divisive dialogue that’s getting nothing but worse and worse in this country. Way to feed humanity’s dark side, morality crusader! No really, high five! You’re accomplishing great things.
“But Laura,” you say, “We’re a Christian nation! Christian values! Morality!” Well to you I say, (1) Show me one time in the Constitution that the words “Jesus”, “God”, “Bible”, or “Christianity” were mentioned. The only times religion (not Christianity. Religion.) is mentioned is in Article 6, and in the 1st Amendment, but, at least to me, two mentions of general religion are a far cry from saying, “We are a Christian nation.” And (2) with the number of sects and churches and divisions of all kinds in Christianity, it isn’t as though there really even is one unifying Christian Moral Code. Christians disagree all the time. Even within groups. Don’t go throwing around “Christian Nation” in order to get your way, especially when you’re behaving in a hateful manner, dude.
So what’s the solution? Well, how about being nice? How about treating people with love? How about giving them the benefit of the doubt? How about, instead of demonizing people who do stuff you think is wrong, you think about the root problem they are suffering from? Because quite often these people you think are monsters or idiots are actually people who are deeply suffering, maybe on a level that you can’t even comprehend.
Women with unplanned pregnancies may be in horrible situations. They may be young girls petrified of what their parents or partner will think. They may feel trapped and scared, and have no way to pay for a baby. They may not want that abortion at all, but may feel like it’s their only option. You are doing nothing to make them feel more safe, capable, or accepted. You are making them feel hated and alone. If you’re going to go on a crusade to stop abortions, how about you devote equal or greater energy to actually helping the women who feel they have no alternative? It’s easy to rant and yell and rile people up about an issue, but getting to the root of the problem is a whole other story.
As for guns, how about this: The problem isn’t the gun. Sure, yes, the gun is part of the problem. Bullets don’t end up in bodies because people put them there. Guns did that. But how often do mentally healthy people shoot someone? Yes, mentally healthy people shoot in self-defense. But I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the people who need not rules but therapists. And not just a few token visits to a therapist so that people can check off on a box before discharging a troubled person from a hospital. Real mental health care that helps fix the problems these people are suffering from. If you feel the need to pass a law to stop guns, devote equal or greater energy to trying to get laws passed to get the mental health system in this country working.
If you must fight and scream and rant about your moral issue, please see that you can’t simply get rid of a thing. Getting rid of a thing leaves a void. That void needs to be filled by an alternative. Don’t just stop a thing. Solve it. Fix it. For real. Not just a government bandaid that looks good on paper. A thing that actually will help the real, actual, living breathing human beings who need the help.
You morality crusaders have a lot of energy to devote to your cause. Why not use that energy to do something kindness-based instead of something hate-based? Something that helps the people you demonize instead of just something that says they have to be stopped. You could do soooooooo much good with that energy. And if you already do devote as much energy to fighting the problem as you do to actually doing things to for real help the problem, then way to go! The world needs more of you.
Now I’m not saying that the government shouldn’t have rules and programs and stuff. I’m not pro-anarchy, and I don’t even really line up all that well with Libertarians. What I am saying, is that expecting that the government will somehow fix all the problems with a law or a program is crazy and takes all the responsibility off of the actual citizens. And there are so many different opinions on any issue that there’s no reason the government should side with you. For every one person who thinks how you do, there’s another who disagrees with you. So, your logic breaks down pretty quick there. Unless you think you are a more important human being than the ones who disagree with you. In that case, you’re a great candidate for that quality mental health care that I mentioned up yonder.
The government isn’t out to make your own personal version of a perfect country. It’s not out to tell everyone else how you think they should live. It is, technically, out to ensure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But still, that line wasn’t written about you specifically. And both you and the people you oppose are fighting for those very same rights. So life, liberty, pursuit of happiness isn’t quite as straightforward as all that. Also, there’s a huge difference between fighting for your own rights and fighting to impose your will on someone else. In the United States, everybody has equal input; you do your best, and realize the ultimately crappy product is out of your control.