This Might Be the Deal

I highly recommend Dan Carlin's podcast "Common Sense"-- he's logical and knowledgeable, has a great voice, and makes political discourse engaging and relevant; his newest episode-- The War on Bad Thoughts-- made me think very deeply about our right and our Constitution, and the recent terrorist attacks and mass shootings plaguing our nation; and I've come to these (tenuous) conclusions:

1) if we are going to have a country with the right to bear arms and freedom of religion . . . or more generally, freedom to think however you like, whether it is orthodox, radical, or beyond-- in other words, if we are going to discern between thought and action-- then we are going to have to tolerate mass shootings and other violent attacks, whether they are motivated by political rage, lunacy, or religious radicalism . . . whether they are attacks like the recent Islamic extremist massacre that occurred in San Bernardino or the Planned Parenthood shooting that happened in Colorado Springs . . . unless we are going to try to eradicate what Dan Carlin terms "bad thoughts," which seems like a horrible road to pursue, a path that will eliminate our rights to religion, free speech, and all other expression-- then we are going to have to live with the fact that this combination-- the right to have weapons and the right to have radical ideas-- whether they are political or associated with religion, or some combination of both-- is going to occasionally foster tragic incidents where people act on these thoughts and it is going to be hard to predict who will do this or when, and to make ourselves completely safe from such events would also strip our privacy, our free will and our consciousness;

2) this analogous to many things in American society-- the combination that comes to my mind is this: if we are going to have freedom to live where we want, and the freedom to operate motor vehicles, and if we are willing to design our society around these vehicles instead of around pedestrians-- road systems and subsidized fuel and infrastructure that encourages suburban and exurban living-- which is what happened in America (listen to this podcast if you want to know how it happened) then we are going to have to tolerate motor vehicle casualties as a matter of course . . . I've lost my youngest brother to this combination and a number of other friends and relatives, but there's no way around it-- we've set up a system where there's going to be a large number of automobile fatalities, but to change this wholesale you would have to literally change the brains of most Americans-- people want to go places, for work and for recreation, and they want to use their cars to get there, and to curtail this from the top down would be frightening . . . again, you'd have to strip people of the right to live where they want, work where they want, and curtail when and how people operated cars-- you'd have to rebuild the system, and in the end it wouldn't look like America;

3) to change combinations like this would be to change America, to change our Constitution, and to change our idea of freedom . . . I'm not sure if this is actually happening now, but certainly people like Donald Trump are considering it, so it is in the realm of possibility, but I don't think it's a good idea, despite the death toll-- there's a part of me that would like to ban automobiles for everyday use, rewild the suburbs, move everyone to cities and towns, build lots of bike lanes and public transportation, etc. etc. but to do this would require a fascist dictatorship . . . the end is appealing to me, but I realize the means to get there would require stripping all citizens of the choices and rights; Dan Carlin quotes Robert Oppenheimer in the recent podcast, Oppenheimer said " it is perfectly obvious that the whole world is going to hell . . . the only possible chance that it might not is that we do not attempt to prevent it from doing so" and while it's hard to do nothing in the face of such violence and tragedy, and there is political impetus to do something . . . anything-- and Donald Trump exemplifies this, with his idea to ban all Muslims from entering our country-- but it's difficult to admit that the proper course might be to do nothing at all (if we are going to maintain our First Amendment rights to freedom of religion) and realize that if you want a particular system, then you are going to have to tolerate certain outcomes-- tragic though they may be-- as a consequence.

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