2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #192
Those of us who are citizens of this great country are blessed because this brings us many benefits. But it also brings responsibilities, and this edition of 2 Paragraphs will briefly discuss four of them. The first is not only to vote, but first to prepare so that we are educated about the candidates and the issues. The second is to serve on juries when called upon to do so. That means that we, as civilians, will in many ways have the final say about how various civil and criminal disputes are resolved. And by doing that we sometimes can exercise great civilian control over our governments. Thirdly, we should pay our taxes. Of course, I’m a libertarian and believe those taxes are much too high, but that is a subject for another day. Fourthly, and no matter what social or economic position we are in, all of us are sometimes in a position in small and even large ways to Make the System Work.
For example, if we see some people who are being mistreated, cheated or humiliated, and they are unable to defend themselves, we should, as citizens, step forward and help them. I’m not saying that we should unnecessarily put ourselves into danger, or be busybodies, but sometimes the situation calls for involvement by third parties, and we should be those people. Or if we see potentially dangerous conditions either on public or private property, we should report it so that the chances of injury to others or damage to their property will be reduced. Most of the time things like this don’t take much effort, but they can be effective. As an illustration, recently when I had a speaking gig at Columbia University in New York City, I noticed that Grant’s Tomb was just a few blocks away. So I went back to see it. Inside it was still clean and impressive, but outside there was a beautiful tile bench that went about 270 degrees around the tomb that had weeds growing all through it. And the National Monument sign from the US Park Service was also sitting on its side. So I took some pictures of the situation and sent them along with a letter of complaint to the Head of the Park Service, which quoted Bob Dylan that we are “either busy being born or busy dying.” And, since that is true both for individuals as well as countries, I didn’t want anyone “on my watch” to think our country was busy dying. This was not a question of money, it was a question of caring. Happily, I received a letter back about two weeks later saying that the problem was fixed. The sign was up and the weeds were gone. (I verified this later with my contact at Columbia.) Yes, this is just a small thing, but I think it helps And all of us are sometimes in similar positions to make the system work and, in my view, our obligations as citizens demand it!
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President