Christopher Kim Chatsworth HS 11th Grade
Freedom is the power to act, speak, or think as one feels it without any resistance. However, American essayist and social critic, H.L. Mencken, states that “The Average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe.” Mencken’s observation applies to contemporary society greatly. In today’s world, people want protection from dangerous threats such as mass shootings but also from freedom itself, as it is what can allow people to do terrible things without any resistance.
In recent times, mass shooting have occurred throughout the United States. The shooting at a Florida high school killed seventeen people. Amass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas ended up killing fifty-eight people. Hundreds of others were injured in both of these incidents combined. Because of cases like these, people urge for the safety of their lives in public, civil places. Molly Hennessy-Fiske, author of “As Gun Debate Roils On, Teachers in Texas Schools are Already Armed,” states that in two dozen states, including California, schools can allow teachers to arm themselves with firearms while on campus. The government believes that in order to protect students from future incidents of shootings, school staff should be armed with the very weapons that have killed students in the past. The protection of people does not only apply to school. Airports have the TSA to regulate what travelers bring with them, at the suspicion of the possession of dangerous weapons. The government makes strict TSA regulations for safe air passage for their citizens. The TSA was in fact created as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which was one of America’s most devastating events in history, killing over 2,000 people and injuring 6,000 over others. People would want safety more than freedom, especially since they are constantly at the risk of dying unjustly in a nation marked by freedom. In order for the average man to be safe in a “free” nation, it is partly the responsibility of the government to make laws that can keep people away from harm.
Furthermore, the average man in today’s world would want to be safe from mass terror, but to a broader extent freedom itself. The rights provided by the US Constitution gives US citizens the freedom to live, speak, and act in accordance to their will. For example, the Second Amendment gives people the freedom to carry weapons for protection. If these laws were not provided, protection cannot be possible. However, the concern is if people use this freedom for the appropriate cause. After all, Nikolas Cruz was using the right to bear arms to cause chaos at the Florida school. The Las Vegas shooter was able to kill fifty-eight people because the Second Amendment lets Americans carry weapons. It should be noted, that many people are misinterpreting the Second Amendment. The law did not give Americans the freedom to willfully kill the innocent. Yet America is built around the very principles of freedom for the common people. Therefore, freedom is partly the reason why the average man “simply wants to be safe”. Because so many people are misusing freedom, the nation is not safe any longer.
Ultimately, H.L. Mencken’s quote applies greatly in contemporary society. People want safety rather than freedom in such a dangerous world. Too many people are misinterpreting the definition of freedom and in turn use it to cause terror. Average men urge for protection in an already corrupt nation that gives too much freedom. Before freedom can be redefined, the world must ensure protection of the people.
<Christopher Kim Chatsworth HS 11th Grade