Constant Vigilance!

Sorry, not a Harry Potter post.

With the recent attacks on contraception and the war on women, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and opinion pieces that make a statement to the effect of “I can’t believe we’re still talking about this!”

Of course we’re still talking about this.

We’re short-lived creatures that reproduce fairly often, and every generation we bring into existence is another chance for people to ask why things are the way they are. The young people who are part of each new generation are passionate and bring new vigor to age-old conflicts. They grow up and run for political office, or start companies, or create action groups to make these changes.

Socio-economic rights, government and law are not matters of immutable record – they reflect the fluctuating social mores of the time. Morals (and it seems, popular acceptance of science) are fashionable, they are transmissible, they grow in popularity as more people share in them. This is one of the reasons why I don’t think the majority should vote on human rights, and why I get nervous about homeschooling communities, religious exemptions from comprehensive sex education, growing groups of parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children, hate groups, school textbook politics, and other shuttered communities that restrict or pervert the flow of information, ideas and our shared history.

We must always be watchful for harmful ideas, and by this I mean ideas that would restrict the rights of others.  We must speak up at every infringement. We must be ready to provide an answer to “Why?” when children come asking. And we owe it to each other to keep learning – and sharing what we learn! – about our communities, the people around us, and viewpoints that are different from our own. We can’t just pass a law, dust off our hands and then forget about the issue for the rest of our lives. Well, we can. But people who disagree with the law may keep fighting it. And they will have children, and ten or twenty years later those children will begin to ask why that law was passed. And they’ll find other young people who disagree with the law and they’ll figure maybe they should think about changing that law. And “suddenly” we’ll find ourselves saying “THIS, again!?”

So yes, we’ve already talked about reproductive rights. We’ve already established that women are human beings. We know we can’t discriminate against people based on skin color. But all of that could change in just a generation or two. Yes, it sucks to have to keep dragging out the protest signs, writing the same letters to the editor and our legislators, having the same conversations over and over with neighbors and friends and family. But we have to do it. And we are doing it. And we’ll keep doing it even if it seems like we just did it all yesterday.

“Maybe I did well and maybe I led the battle but nobody ever said we were going to win this thing at any point in time. Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it.” – Milton Friedman*

*While I don’t agree with Milton Friedman’s politics and don’t know nearly enough about economics to comment on his economic theories, I have always liked this quote.

 

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Constant Vigilance!
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