When I was a young ‘en, maybe about 16, I lived in (two of) the poorer sections of the richest school district around. A school district my parents had moved into three years earlier – and shortly before their divorce — specifically so that I could go to the good county schools instead of the crappy city schools. All, in all, it was not bad. I got the fancy education, but I was not as insulated in my upper-crust world as other school-mates of mine.
I specifically remember going to a “party” at some friend of a friend’s apartment (or maybe even one more “friend” step further). But the really amazing thing was that this is where this person lived. Not with his parents, or anyone else. This was entirely his place. He lived on his own. Whether he was an emancipated minor (I doubt it) or just 18-or-over, I don’t know. But I remember being astonished and impressed.
Here was somebody with enormous amounts of freedom. No one to tell him when he had to go to bed, no one to tell him “don’t eat that!” No one to interrupt sexual adventures with untimely returns from outings. But at the same time, the place was a sty. There was evidence all around that with this freedom came responsibility. There was also no one to cook for him. No one to do his laundry, no one to help keep common spaces clean. (My bedroom was always the messy place in generally orderly, if not always spotless, households).
Personally, while the freedom was moderatly enticing (particularly as I was dating a 24 y.o. who declared parents “a drag”; see “untimely returns” above), it wasn’t a tradeoff I was interested in making. I didn’t want to have to cook for myself, be financially responsible for rent and utilities, etc. etc.
Needless to say, I got over this in time, and am pleased to be master of my domain (when my wife lets me be ;-).
So, on a bicycle ride yesterday, I was thinking that maybe there is some hope for the country. Maybe we are, collectively, like 16-year old AC. The freedom of of a liberal society entices us, but we currently prefer the “safety” and “warmth” in the care of our big brother. Not yet realizing that said brother, like anyone separate from us, has his own interests at heart rather than our own. Maybe, like all teens, we’re in a phase. We’ll out grow it.
The only reason I don’t buy it is the trends in the laws we tolerate seem to point in the other direction. As someone once quipped “If all these soldiers are dying for my freedom, how come I don’t have more of it?” Still, calls to break government strangle-holds have appeared in more mainstream places than I’d have expected. And I prefer hope to dispair.