We cannot settle for less because our most basic freedoms depend on it.
By Kathy Varga
Not long ago, I was helping an African-American, special needs student learn about Black history in America. She had a lot of questions and was genuinely trying to understand the material. As we were wrapping up our discussion, she asked a question that struck me to the core. “Are we going to be slaves again?” I realized that my student’s view of the world as a safe and welcoming place may never be the same.
No child should ever wonder if tomorrow will bring chains, whether they be literal or of the invisible kind. With so many concurrent crises at hand, many of our cultural faults are at the forefront, among them the damaging effects of modern racism and poverty. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are examples of human life being treated with indifference and levity. Media footage of recent police/civilian clashes is evidence that while most people might be kind and caring individuals, there is a streak of ambivalence towards both verbal cruelty and physical violence in our culture. Unfortunately, these trends have not been censured by American leadership and instead have been encouraged to devastating effect.
As conservative Americans, we cannot choose indifference to callousness even if it might help us reach our short-term goals. I hear many people dismiss comments from the President as entertainment or just poor manners. There are people who view his brashness as a refreshing change to the more masked deceit suspected in everyday politicians. However, bluntness should not be mistaken for honesty. Some see the President’s strong man demeanor as an asset. They worry that without his aggressive manner to protect fundamental conservative values (freedom of religion, gun rights), it would be difficult to hold back equally aggressive far-left lobbyists who use fear in similarly damaging ways. If we sell ourselves in the market of fear, then we have already lost our freedom. We don’t need corruption and bullying to defend conservative values. There is a better way.
Our pursuit starts with rooting out damaging language and leaders on both sides of the aisle that promote hatred. It sometimes feels difficult to know who to trust, but we can trust our values. I believe good and decent people still exist in abundance, among all races, among the cops, and even in our government. As we approach this next election cycle, we should use our fundamental American values such as equality, honesty, compromise, respect, hard work, and sacrifice as measures for our politicians. If they do not meet these basic standards, they do not deserve our vote. If we raise the bar, they will be forced to raise their standards. I know for me that at this higher bar our current President does not even come close to meeting those standards.
We cannot settle for less because our most basic freedoms depend on it. We cannot be indifferent to words and actions that threaten our fellow citizens. Chains of fear are contagious. In a world run with fear, friends easily turn into enemies. If we don’t have freedom from fear, we don’t have freedom for anything.