Who Keeps You Safe? You Do
For free citizens like us, self-preservation is a duty.
February 14, 2011 - 12:00 am
In life there are a myriad of fundamental questions, ranging from ultimate ones that deal with the metaphysical to proximate ones related to earthly matters.
Sadly, many among us go through life without asking questions from either category, preferring instead to live on assumption (or presumption).
And while there may appear to be endless reasons for not wrestling with such questions, we must face the fact that our lack of inquisitiveness is not good. It not only demonstrates an intellectual laziness but also reveals a blind trust in people and things that might not be worthy of that trust. It also translates into lives lived without meaningful reflection on the individual responsibilities and duties which are ours by birth.
Questions about the existence of God fall under the ultimate heading while questions about the inner workings of the U.S. government, although important, are proximate. The one question we can ask ourselves which ties these varying points together by dealing with our well-being is: “Who keeps us safe?”
What earthly power, agent of the state, or technique do you trust to protect your life on a day-to-day basis?
If we think seriously about it, safety is one of the biggest issues we face daily as Americans. Yet it also seems to be one of the things we most easily take for granted. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we’re accustomed to seeing firemen, police officers, and even military personnel driving through the streets of our cities, sitting in cafés beside us at lunch, or standing guard around certain buildings and subways when we feel especially threatened.
Yet while we ought to fully support and honor our firemen, police officers, and military personnel in their service to our communities and this nation, we must be realistic enough to understand that they are called “first responders” for a reason: they show up after the accident, or incident, has taken place. In other words, they don’t prevent bad things from happening, they respond once bad things have happened.
So who keeps us safe during the time in which an incident is actually taking place: the time before the police are alerted, when we find ourselves face to face with a criminal intent on carrying out his most devious desires? The answer is that we individual citizens are the only ones who can truly keep ourselves safe at that moment.
Our Founders knew this, and described self-defense as a duty no less than a right. Said Samuel Adams: “The duty of self-preservation … [is] the first law of nature.” Such a worldview sheds light on the philosophy behind George Washington’s maxim: “Free men ought to be armed.” Those who framed this nation knew that each citizen, as a free person, would ultimately be responsible for his or her own safety. To put it another way: those who framed this nation knew that each citizen, because free, would ultimately be responsible for his or her own safety.