Friday, December 12, 2014

Freedom v. Order

In the introduction to his play The Crucible, Arthur Miller writes this statement:

"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."

The Crucible was written about sixty years ago, and the events described within the play took place around three hundred years ago. This statement, however, remains true for American society today. Many current issues come about from this struggle between the needs of the community and the desires of the individuals inside the community. I am not sure if a balance may ever be achieved between these two forces; certainly it has not yet occurred, and if the plethora of dystopian science fiction novels are to be taken as examples, an attempt to support one side will inevitably lead to the demise of the other, creating an even more unbalanced society.

This topic, though it seems to be a central one in present American society, can also be a very delicate issue. Events such as those in Ferguson and in New York are charged subjects, and people can become very passionate about what they believe. One person's opinion will most likely infuriate someone else nearby. In both locations, the non-indictment of the police officers would seem to indicate that the government places more value on the "needs" of the community than the "desires" of the individual.

The whole experience of airline security, as well, is a primary example of the conflict between these two opposing but similar forces. Security is run to protect the people on the plane; by doing so, the individuals attempting to make their way through security are delayed, and the situation becomes an example of the priority society (or at least the government) places on order instead of freedom.

I believe that instead of moving towards a balance between freedom and order, American society is moving away from it, becoming more focused on order and the safety of the general community than on the personal freedoms of the people. The paranoia in the government as well as in the people, caused by such conflicts as a terrorist attack or the shooting of an unarmed person, results in fear of excessive freedom, and, in an attempt to regulate this perceived threat to the nonexistent balance, society overbalances on the side of order, and the loss of freedom is met by more fear.

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