OPINION – An accurate description of statism is the worldview in which some ideas are so good they have to be mandatory. Unfortunately, this is a point of view held by a great many people who should know better.
Why would the people of a free society choose compulsion over exercising their freedom of choice?
Why increase the state’s power over us at every turn?
State senator Aaron Osmond has started a long-overdue dialogue about doing away with compulsory education in Utah. In explaining why compulsory education laws should be repealed, Osmond said, “Some parents act as if the responsibility to educate, and even care for their child, is primarily the responsibility of the public school system.
As a result, our teachers and schools have been forced to become surrogate parents, expected to do everything from behavioral counseling, to providing adequate nutrition, to teaching sex education, as well as ensuring full college and career readiness.”
The outraged reaction of Osmond’s critics shows a deep-seated attachment for state compulsion as a means to an end. The Salt Lake Tribune summed up the gist of its support for such laws by editorializing:
As we don’t want to be surrounded by firetrap buildings, open sewers or drunk drivers, we also choose not to be immersed in a crowd of stupid people. That’s why education, in civilized societies, is not optional.
The glaring logical fallacy of this editorial is the presumption that, barring state compulsion, we’d be unable to figure out how to educate our children. It simply doesn’t follow that if the state isn’t pointing a gun at our heads that our kids wouldn’t be educated by other means.
Plutarch said it best when he wrote, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” That can only happen when a student chooses to embrace his or her education. It’s not a product of being forced to learn what some bureaucrat believes is best for the student.
Former University of Chicago president Robert M. Hutchins spelled out the difference between schooling and education when he wrote, “True education does not consist merely in acquiring a few facts of science, history, literature, or art, but in the development of character.”
When the state becomes a mandatory source from which we learn knowledge rather than acquiring authentic character through self-driven learning, it will train us to be lifelong children rather than responsible adults.
This lack of character can be seen in areas other than education as well.
Heidi Yewman wrote a highly emotional anti-gun piece for the Daily Beast in which she states, “I decided to find out what it felt like to be that “good guy” by carrying a gun everywhere I went for a month, doing the absolute minimum that’s legally required.”
And therein is the problem.
By seeking to do the “absolute minimum” required by law, she is demonstrating clear moral mediocrity. Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his 1978 commencement address to Harvard warned how a legalistic society is not the same as a healthy society:
A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses.
In the case of a firearms owner, the personal responsibility of learning basic gun safety, firearms handling, marksmanship and principles of personal defense are pursued voluntarily. Only a person whose spirit of freedom has been broken would allow their exercise of an inalienable right to be defined by the letter of a compulsory law.
There are too many Americans who prefer to take orders and fear the prospect of assuming responsibility for their own lives. They’ve been taught to be helpless; trained to act as their own jailers. They’ve also been conditioned to despise those citizens who remain independent.
This explains their unalloyed hostility toward millions upon millions of peaceable firearms owners who have chosen to be responsible without having to be forced.
Government is not our parent. We are not helpless children who must be scolded and directed in every instance.
It’s as wrong to compel a person to do what is right, as it is to forbid him to do it.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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