Can self-government survive these free people?

WestWordsWEBOn Friday, we will be celebrating the 238th anniversary of the United States’ experiment in self-government.

It was an experiment then, and it remains so today, perhaps even more so. In many ways, we are testing the rule of law and the limits of self-government.

When an increasing number of citizens decide to shoot up schools, movie theaters or estranged families, one wonders what our Founding Fathers would have thought.

The big difference is that back then, the fragility of life was more appreciated. People understood that they needed to conform in certain ways or they would die. Society was formed for mutual protection from the dangers of the natural world.

Today, man’s hubris has taken over. Too many people believe that  too many people exist. What’s one life more or less? More of us treat our lives cavalierly, substituting a moment of chemical pleasure for our long term good,  willing to risk addiction.

We  learn of otherwise smart young people who idolize mass murderers and attempt to devise new ways to leave the world  in a blaze of outrage, somehow seeing their lives as meaning something because they murdered a bunch of others on their way out.

We are experimenting with the limits. Can we tolerate such attitudes and still remain a free people, devoted to the rule of law?

Tom West is the general manager of the Peach. Reach him at 320-616-1932 or e-mail [email protected]