I grew up believing we lived in a civilized society whose characteristics were shared by all first world countries. Our culture complemented civilization, our values included free speech, freedom of religion and press, independence, diversity, a sense of competition, fairness, and individualism. We think big, have American spunk, creativity, a strong desire for our children to do better than we did as their parents.
The civilized part of our society included much more than courtesy and politeness. It allowed for safety and protection for its citizens; a sense of law and order—justice, education and the passing down of morals and values, access to clean water and food, and while equality in life did not include financial equality it did allow for moving up by hard work.
I was taught violence was wrong. We could settle our differences in a civil, respectful manner. There was room for discourse and peaceful protest. My world has changed. When I see situations like the recent Detroit and Memphis shootings I am saddened. Violence has never been a part of my civilized world. I was taught to work hard to achieve success, respect others, and participate in critical thinking.
A friend of mine shared this poem with me. He said his grandfather always repeated it and a copy hung on their refrigerator.
Go to work and save $ (also titled The Prescription)
If you are poor– work.
If you are rich –continue to work.
If you’re happy– keep right on working.
Idleness gives you room for doubts and fears.
If disappointments, come– work.
If sorrow overwhelms you, and loved ones seem not true–work.
When faith falters and reason fails–just work.
When dreams are shattered and hope seems dead– work.
Work as is if your life was in peril. It really is.
Whatever happens or matters– work.
Work faithfully–work with faith.
Work is the greatest material remedy available.
Work will cure both mental and physical afflictions.
(The California Citrograph, July 1922)
This poem, come to find out, was printed and reprinted (Dear Abby, college graduations) for close to a century now. In addition to a strong work ethic, I was also taught that critical thinking is a crucial skill necessary for true understanding of life and one’s place in it. After observing the recent violence in our society, analyzing the data, reflecting on all the information presented, I continue to be at a loss as to why people think violence is a plausible manner in which to get one’s point across. Freedom of speech allows for peaceable protests—not violent ones. Anyone who perpetrates violence against another should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I think most of our leaders are negligent and lack true conviction, values, and morals, because it is not acceptable that individuals go to demonstrations with bats and weapons intending to do bodily or property damage. That said, from a Libertarian perspective everyone should do what they want to do with their own lives as longs they don’t impose their view or will on others.
While I reject violence, I do acknowledge that genocide or enslavement of other humans is a time when violence to those perpetrating the crimes may be justifiable (self-defense). We, as a civilized society, must reevaluate what values we are passing on to our children and support a strong, united, positive leadership. Violence is not the answer when we disagree. Let’s move towards work, education, and positive discourse.