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April 25, 2013

Proud to Be an American

Patricia A. Kelly

The people of the United States have been through a lot in the last year. Our most innocent, along with just ordinary people out having fun or even praying, have been attacked and murdered more than once.


From Aurora, Colorado, to Newtown, Connecticut, to a Sikh temple massacre to Boston, Massachusetts, it’s been purposeful murder on a grisly scale.


From deranged people with guns and bombs to skinheads to terrorists, too many have attacked and victimized too many.


The victims of these tragedies have taken the lead in displaying both courage and the resolve to move forward with their lives. In Boston alone, a 31-year old dance teacher, now missing her left lower leg and foot, has resolved not only to dance again, but also to run the Boston Marathon next year. She is angry, but determined not to allow terrorism to deny her life, or deny her the joy that her life holds. We owe her thanks for her display of courage.


Police, medical and rescue personnel, and civilian bystanders have also given us examples of doing one’s best. Victims received immediate first aid, even to bystanders staunching blood flow with their bare hands. Medical care has been excellent, and saved many lives.


People have promised not to let terrorism or murder rob them of celebrations of life in these United States. It’s expected that the number running in Boston next year will increase in response to this year’s bombing. Huge amounts of donated money is coming in, too, to help pay for prostheses and rehabilitation for bombing victims.


This is as it should and must be. Terrorists and mass murderers will win if people give up their lives out of fear. After all, death can come any time. Life is the treasure.


On the other hand, some responses, often from government leaders, are quite ominous. As I’ve been glued to recent news, I’ve heard everything from justification of torture to assertions that, if anyone tries to get into “my” house, he’ll be hearing from behind the door about the lethal weapons I’m carrying.”


There’s talk, too, about everything from delaying immigration reform to how much the surviving Boston Marathon bomber deserves the death penalty.


Even more important than running the Boston Marathon next year is to retain our principles and a careful examination process before creating new laws.


It begins with accepting that there is no such thing as perfect safety. Next, if we wish to survive intact, is to retain our integrity.


Although Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley went too far in abolishing the death penalty, leaving no recourse for people who commit acts of violence or murder in prison, the death penalty is not about revenge. The government in a civilized and free society focuses punishment for crimes on keeping innocent members of society safe. The death penalty, with all allowed appeals, costs more than life imprisonment. Having government kill someone for killing someone is highly questionable, not to mention releasing violent offenders.


As for gun control, everyone knows that criminals don’t always get their guns legally, and that the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms. Maybe some form of licensing, proof of proficiency, or background checks (like the eye exam for drivers) might be appropriate. But, before government curtails the rights of law abiding citizens, it had better demonstrate clear proof of benefit. Although the United States has more gun ownership than any other country, we’re more like 28th in gun related deaths, not first.


Not only has immigration reform been long needed, but we have also needed to follow the laws we already have. It is infuriating to watch our leaders completely fail to justify this. We wouldn’t even have to control the border if no one was allowed to work or rent an apartment without documentation. Fixing our immigration system should not be dependent upon a terrorist act performed by anyone, let alone a legal immigrant.


We could use recent events to give President Barack Obama more of an excuse to continue to “level the playing field” and create socialism in America.


Or, we could hunker down and do the work that’s needed, to support and improve a proud and free society of independent achievers.


What would be your choice?


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