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We Are One?
by Jeremy Browning
Jan. 22, 2009 08:23

A restaurant where I live has a large "reader board" sign out front that normally advertises happy hour specials or invites diners to enjoy some hot etouffee.

Since Tuesday, the sign has read:


This collectivist mentality of late has me reexamining my opinions and trying to pin down exactly why it gives me goosebumps. On the face of it, I probably seem quite harsh. What's wrong with the idea of us all "being in this together" and "sharing a common bond"?

And there is a point to be made that people in a certain geographic region, sharing common laws, etc., really are one in certain respects.

I believe, though, that all of it has gone too far. I don't yearn for any great consensus about very many things. I believe that it's vital for our countrymen to strongly agree on a very small number of crucial principles.

This "we are one" fad strives for consensus with regard to minutia such as banning trans-fats, outlawing smoking in public restaurants, government funding of homeless shelters and so on. Meanwhile, foundational principles like the inviolate nature of property rights take a back seat.

Even when the consensus-builders contemplate the great issues of the day, they advocate the wrong conclusions: Conflict is bad, so all worldviews should be treated as equally valid. War is bad, so powerful nations that defend themselves by force should be made to negotiate with their aggressors. Some computer climate models predict disaster in 50 or 100 years, so the world's economies should be decapitated while less efficient, less reliable, alternative, more costly energies should be artificially foisted on the marketplace. (As a side note, last year's three-month forward-looking weather models incorrectly predicted a drought winter and my region set records for snowfall.)

If we could all agree on the absolute right of the individual to come to her own conclusions, to act upon her own best judgment and to be free from coercion, then most of the rest is meaningless to me. That one principle is a razor that cuts out the roots of most of the arguments of the day.

After that, we can be free to go to the game on Sunday or go to the Synagogue, the Church, the Cathedral or the Mosque instead; we can be free to light a cigarette, a Menorah, a doobie or a pentagram; we can be free to dine on soda and candy bars, or wheatgrass smoothies and organic tofu; we can be free to drive a Dodge Ram or a Prius; we can envy our neighbor's material success or praise his productivity; we can have sex with men or women or both.

You see, we are not one, and needn't be.

Edited Jan. 22, 2009 09:06


log (lôg) n. a record of details of a voyage made by a ship's captain or crew