Two Sides of the Same Coin
Who the heck are we?
Reading “The View from Mrs. Thompson’s” by David Foster Wallace brought this question to my mind once again. Wallace’s whole essay is infused with the completely opposing ideas of America. On the one hand we have America, the place where politicians are characterized by disgustingly over publicized affairs, our presidents are all egotistic and gung-ho, our government is deadlocked in childish arguments, and our people are consuming themselves into a diabetic stupor before death. On the other hand we have America “the land of the free and home of the brave,” a land of people who have fought and died not only for their freedom but the hope of freedom for others, who, for the most part, spent the hours after the fall of the Twin Towers in prayer and morning rather than screaming for revenge. Can the same nation that brought about the creation of a convenience store (literally a store created to cater to our most shallow desires) like the Qik-n-Ez, also be filled with people willing to aid complete strangers (who from all appearances might be completely unhinged)? Can sweet innocent old ladies not only share the room with cynical disillusioned men but can the two parties draw solace and strength from one another?
Yes. But more importantly do they need to be?
Don Goodrich brought up this subject a few weeks ago in his lecture at Sweet Briar College.
America prides itself on its recognition and protection of rights but somewhere along the way we have forgotten duty. I will never argue against the founding fathers that the rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are unalienable instead we must recognize that that these rights come with unalienable duties. If we are lazy and do not protect our own rights or self-serving and neglect the rights of others these rights we so pride ourselves on will rot, degrade, and eventually disappear. Rights and Duties are two sides of the same coin made of the same metal so intrinsically mixed that one cannot come without the other.