Which World I’d Rather Live In

Even though I think some tasks are best left for the police, I’d much rather live in a world where a few people are a little too eager to throw themselves into dangerous situations, than one where everyone cowers in the corner, crippled with fear, and then afterwards complains about how long it took the police to show up.

I think one thing that separates us from other people is we’re a bit more cognizant, and maybe even a little more accepting, of human limitations and failings. I’ve long thought that one of the key features of the left is a belief in the perfectibility of man, whereas we tend to think that’s a fool’s errand.

A person of the left would look at the two citizens, who tried to stop the killer in Idaho, and think “See, that’s exactly why only the police should have guns.” I’m sure many of us at least understand the motives that drive someone to go hunting after a killer, and therefore don’t see things that way.  We may think it’s foolhardy, but view it as a consequence of human nature, and not something we can, or really should, try to weed from the population.

The left tends to place a great deal of faith in government, and tend to be the most surprised when it fails.  Government failings aren’t simply an inevitable consequence of a system made up of imperfect humans, but are somehow the fault of those in positions of power. Put the right people in charge; people who have faith in, and are competent in the exercise of governmental power, and the world’s problems can be solved.  Mankind can be perfected!  This attitude, taken to the extreme, leads to Marxism. We deal with a much softer manifestation of that, but I’m convinced it all erupts from the same intellectual well.

It explains why the left is eager to trust police as the only ones with the means and authorization to engage in violence. The police are an organ of the state, which is the left’s primary tool.  The idea that the police are just a collection of imperfect humans that we hire to do the job of keeping law and order, well, that idea is giant wrench thrown into the intellectual works.  If the police make mistakes, if sometimes they fail to or cannot protect, indeed, if sometimes they actually even harm, then maybe those folks who demand that they have the means to act when the government can’t, or won’t, have a point, don’t they?

But accepting that means accepting you can never end crime, stop foolhardy people from trying to be heroes, prevent the idiot from accidentally shooting himself, or the depressed from doing it on purpose. It means accepting that man is not perfectible, and that’s a tough pill to swallow, especially if you’re, say, a politician or other person of means and influence, that fancies himself as one of those smart, competent people who is just the right person to tug on the levers of power.

Personally, I like living in a world with other imperfect human beings, and where people have the freedom to make decisions and take action, even if in hindsight we find that action foolish or reckless. I think most of the time, most of the people will do the right thing. I’d rather with a government that finds ways to work with its citizens rather than live under a government that just wants to manage them. To me it’s the difference between actually being free, and just saying you are.

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