Alas, we’ve reached the end of another year. For those of us at The Concordian, that means a few different things. For one, time for an awesome banquet. Two, time for me to make a teary-eyed speech about how great a year it’s been and how much I love the staff. And, most importantly, time to not pick up any of the garbage in our workspaces, which over the years have turned into some of the most disorganized file cabinets you’ve ever seen.
While this year has been amazing for me, I’ve decided to not do another thing that usually comes with the end of the year: the customary editor-in-chief “advice for college students” column.
Instead, I’d like to dedicate my final editorial to the idea of freedom. Never has there been a more used defense or rationale for a country’s decision-making that has been more misunderstood.
Before you get your tar and feathers ready, let me explain. When our founding fathers wrote the preamble to the Constitution, arguably the most important sentence in our most important national document, they thought it important to establish early a few things from the start: forming a more perfect union, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty. If you read closely, you’ll see words like “common,” “general,” “justice” and “liberty.”
It’s clear even from the most rudimentary reading of this sentence that these men wanted to create a nation in which every person could live, free of persecution or injustice. I find it troubling, then, that this freedom the first Americans anticipated has changed so much in the past 200+ years.
Maybe we’ve just been too successful. Maybe what was a fledgling bunch of troublemakers won a few too many fights and morphed into a gang of bullies. Somewhere along the line, though, freedom has changed from its original American definition.
There was a time when it meant that everyone could pursue justice. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were the American Dream, the epitome of freedom. Now, for some reason, freedom means being able to “do whatever the Hell I want with no interference.”
The change itself probably cannot be nailed down to a single day, month, year, or even decade, but things have changed without any question. There was a time when communities were like families, always there to help each other when in need. Now, more often than not, the best you’ll get is a pat on the back and a “Good luck.”
This tiny change in ideals can have devastating results. Anything being regulated is suddenly a sin, as if Big Brother had his hands in the proverbial cookie jar, taking 75 percent of our sweet desserts. Deregulation, as a result, has widened the distribution of wealth so much that the top one percent of Americans now earn more than the bottom 90 percent. Talk all you want about “American ingenuity” and “smart investing,” but this statistic is just wrong. I’m all for people getting rich when they deserve it, but not in such a way where people can literally make money off the failure of others. Is that smart investing, or unethical human behavior? We’re at the point where to run a business well, you have to do such things as lay workers off, revoke their pensions, take away their insurance, or even hire them back at a lower wage. All in pursuit of the “American Dream,” to get so loaded with money that you literally cannot spend it all…sounds like a nightmare to me.
Position at The Concordian: Editor-in-Chief
Year in school: Senior
Hometown: Bertha, Minnesota
Favorite Newspaper: The Star Tribune
Favorite Writer: Mitch Albom
Catchphrase: See what I did there?