America is Less Culturally Free than it Realizes

By Ryan Lau | United States

In American politics today, Republicans and Democrats dominate the national stage of conversation. More often than not, media and government crush dissenting ideas, and this is not surprising. In fact, it makes perfect sense that those in power would not cede that power to anyone else. However, it appears that in America, the issue with the two party duopoly runs much deeper than a simple government power. In fact, coercion and violence are both big parts of American culture. The alleged land of the free does not practice their principles, in the political realm or in its society.

A Coercive Start

As young as infancy or early childhood, many American children learn the principles of coercion. This comes through many of the traditionalist, “sit down and shut up” mindsets that both schools and parents practiced. Specifically, the old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” is highly detrimental to the American public. By nature, children will learn from figures of authority, and will imitate those figures in an attempt to learn from them. A psychological fact, this is not necessarily good or bad. Instead, it is entirely dependent on the lessons that they learn before they reach an age where they can think more for themselves. Yet, the lessons and examples have much to be desired.

An Assault of Adolescence

Moving into adolescence, free thought begins to become more prevalent. However, free thought, just like coercive thought, is not necessarily good or bad. Rather, it depends on the messages that it brings. In these critical years to a child’s development, they often associate with increasing levels of coercion and violence. Now, this is not to say that every teen will develop violent tendencies. However, it turns out that such violence and coercion spread like a plague.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics about the epidemic of teen violence. In their study, they looked at data involving both threats and action, and the stats were horrifying. For instance, one in every twelve teens made a threat to use a weapon against another each year. Thirty percent of all teens were either bullied, or were a bully. Though many schools have taken action in recent years against this coercive culture, it is not enough.

In fact, the prevalence of these acts may, if anything, be increasing as social media use also rises. Recently, the American Journal of Public Health conducted a study about the causes of teen violence. It showed that adolescents are far more likely to commit a violent act or crime if one or more close friends had done so. Specifically, they were 183% more likely to have hurt someone badly enough that they needed medical attention, and 140% more likely to have pulled a weapon on another. This is not a culture of true freedom, as freedom requires that each individual has a  negative right to liberty. By using violence in such staggering numbers, American teen culture shows it has little in common with freedom at all.

Violence: An American Way of Life

Unfortunately, it appears that these violent tendencies simply do not go away with age. Killing in America occurs 87 times every day. The violent crime rate in Washington DC exceeds 1% of people annually. Battlefields in Afghanistan often see lower casualty rates than a typical day in Chicago. It simply baffles me how people can call America the land of the free, how they can worship the alleged culture of freedom. In reality, a culture of freedom is one that protects the rights of its citizens.

Consequently, it must recognize the importance of life, liberty, and property. Yet, American culture does none of these. Clearly, life and liberty are irrelevant to many Americans. But the extent of the violation of rights goes far beyond this, and applies to every voting, law-abiding, taxpaying American. By supporting politicians who start wars and impose unjust taxes upon citizens, Americans are, in their own way, supporting violence. By following laws which require them to pay services to a government which will do the same, they are supporting violence. Yet, they often brush this off with a casual excuse about society and its traditional function.

Thus, cops, criminals, and almost everyone in between are guilty of such violence. In doing so, they contribute to the culture, furthering its grip on this country. Surely, the “land of the free” truly has a long way to go in order to live up to its name.

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