At the start of Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, Miller claims that it is not possible for society to attain the ideal, sought-after balance of order and freedom. This statement, powerful though it may be and obviously correct to some Americans, is not necessarily true. Although there are some cases in which freedom is compromised for the sake of order and vise versa, the way in which the United States government and society are structured allow for a near-perfect coexistence of control and personal liberties.
Admittedly, there are certain laws in society that do not represent the sought-after balance that Miller describes is unsustainable. For example, Congress’ restriction of the use of recreational marijuana is demonstrative of overbearing order, especially when seen in the light of other laws. Apparently, smoking marijuana is too dangerous to members of society to be considered legal. However, there are unrestricted concealed carry laws in the states of Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, and Vermont. As long as they keep it hidden from view, people are allowed to carry a handgun with them in these states. This law skews the balance in favor of too much freedom, as giving people the right to carry around a gun is both an accident waiting to happen and yet another reason for two people to get into a fight. Despite these and other laws, there is still a prevailing sense of Miller’s “impossible” balance in American society.
An epitomic instance of this paradoxical balance can be found in the United States Constitution. All citizens are allowed the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to own property, and countless other liberties guaranteed by our supreme law of the land, preserved forever in ink and paper. Although this document may appear a protector of the rights of all Americans, it is at the same time an effort to control the masses. By clearly stating the rights of all men and women in society, the Constitution effectively guarantees Americans certain rights – and nothing more. Thus, the Constitution is both a promise to all citizens that their human rights will not be infringed upon and an ordered socio-political structure that reminds Americans of the limitations of their actions, preventing the rise of anarchy.
The fluidity of the Constitution is another example of the near-equal relationship between order and freedom. If laws in society are found to be unconstitutional or simply necessary for the furthering of the democratic cause, amendments can be made to the Constitution. Since people elect their representatives for the House of Representatives and the Senate and a two-thirds majority of each house is required for an amendment to pass, elements of both freedom and order are essential in this transformational process. The fact that changes can be made to the supreme law of the land accentuates democratic freedom; yet, Americans cannot vote directly on whether or not an amendment passes. This decision is left to the houses to decide, which is an aspect of government control. Although some facets of American society lean one way or the other toward overwhelming order or freedom, the democratic principles that the United States was founded upon uphold and continue to uphold the ostensibly dynamic balance between control and liberty.