Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

By , on July 25, 2010


Many of us, including me, spend a lot of time and energy thinking about and, in my case, writing about what’s wrong with legislation and laws to which we are subjected. Have you ever considered, though, the likelihood of the laws suiting our desires better than they do considering we are only one person in a country of 300 million people? It takes many sound decisions to create the kind of society in which we currently find ourselves. I thought I might list some of the reasons many aspects of our lives are pretty good.

  • Our federal government is well designed, and based on a constitution that cannot be ignored too often or too much by the Congress or the President. Sooner or later, the Supreme Court has a case come before it that gives the life-tenured members of the Court an opportunity to remedy the most egregious wrongs. Admittedly, we all disagree with them sometimes, and history has proven that a few bad decisions prevail, but the Court largely prevents the worst excesses.
  • Our government has allowed creativity and inventiveness to flourish. This gives us products that allow us to tailor our lives as we desire, eliminate many tedious chores from our lives, and add richness to our lives.
  • We have enough freedom to thrive or destroy our lives. Although there have been many rampant exceptions throughout our history, in general many of the problems in our lives are of our own making. This is actually a good thing in society. It is a cost of freedom and much preferred to problems imposed on individuals through suppression by others. Of course, we have expertise in that aspect of life as well, unfortunately.
  • It is at least acceptable in our society to seek change, complain, vote, petition our legislators, bring cases to court and otherwise participate. You will not win every time, or maybe you will not win at all. But you have a voice.
  • Americans tend to disregard rules and laws that are exceedingly stupid and unpopular. While this is not a good thing for our laws generally, it is a practical check on bad policy and legislation. I am thinking of Prohibition as the best example of non-compliance being a significant factor in that temporary effort to save us all, especially men, from the ill effects of alcohol. We returned to the sensible idea that people should be free to consume alcohol responsibly or to decide for themselves whether to abuse it. We moved back to more freedom of the individual with the repeal of Prohibition.
  • There is a wide range of acceptable behavior for Americans, from withdrawal and isolation to full participation and entanglement with others. There is the opportunity to find a comfortable niche in society that is within the law.
  • Despite popular criticism, most of our government officials are well-intentioned despite their predictable blunders from time to time. A society cannot long thrive as the U.S. has without a bunch of well-intentioned people elected to office to represent us.


2 Comments to “Life in the United States Under Our Laws”

  1. Tony Woody says:

    Nice post! I think you bring up some key ideas that we often times forget. It often is our nature as Americans to complain about the government, but it is the very freedom that allows us to criticize that makes it great.

  2. admin says:

    Thank you, Woody. It is good to hear from you.


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