In the introduction of his play The Crucible, Arthur Miller writes, “It is still impossible for man to organize his social life without repressions, and the balance has yet to be struck between order and freedom.” Although some aspects of American society represent a balance between order and freedom, for the most part, Arthur Miller’s statement is still true because the American balance is skewed towards order rather than freedom.
Some parts of American society do represent a healthy balance between order and freedom. In America, the Bill of Rights allows every American citizen certain civil liberties, including the right to free speech. The representative democracy of America allows citizens over the age of 18 to have a voice in the government. This system represents some freedom, because people can chose whom to vote for, or even chose not to vote at all. It also represents some order, because the state-controlled voting process is designed to avoid mob mentality and rule by majority factions and to promote an efficient selection of government officials. However, even this example of a balance between order and freedom is not always so perfectly balanced. Gerrymandering and a flawed system of electoral colleges can both silence the voices of active citizens, representing a skew towards order in the balance.
Most of American society represents an excess of order and control rather than freedom. One example of this imbalance is the treatment of people who are Muslim American or are deemed to appear Muslim by the National Security Agency (NSA). While Caucasian people are often quickly allowed through security at airports, Middle Eastern people are often “randomly” selected to be thoroughly searched. This imbalance is a result of race prejudice following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. It represents unfair state control that impedes the liberty of American citizens.
The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, in which a police officer shot an unarmed African-American teenager, also illustrate the imbalance in American society. That society is controlled to a point where even an innocent person’s life can be legally taken from him is clear evidence that America is skewed towards “order” rather than freedom. A person’s right to his or her own life is the most basic liberty, and that this liberty is not supported in American society clearly demonstrates the lack of balance.
Although humanity will almost certainly continue to strive for a balance between freedom and order, I am unconvinced that such a balance is even possible. Since every person’s ideas of liberty, order, and even right and wrong are different, there is no way for a system to allow every person to do what they feel they should be free to do while maintaining order. However, we as a society will continue to work towards a better solution than the skewed system we have in place today.