Urban areas – regardless of their size – feature some of the best and the worst of “civilized living.” The best can be wonderful. But the worst is often beyond rational understanding, sickening beyond belief.
We here at The Price of Liberty are agrarian in nature. No, we do not believe in “agrarian democracy” as Jefferson is sometimes viewed: we believe that democracy is flawed severely at best, and evil more often than not. Nor are we great promoters of an “agrarian republic” for republic still denotes a mandatory government, antithetical to self-governing and human liberty. Perhaps we are “agrarian” anarchists because free-market anarchy seems to have a better chance of existence in a frontier and rural society. Why? Let’s explore.
Sadly, these Fifty States are NOT a rural and frontier society – taken as a whole. We are ever more urban, ever more densely concentrated into bigger urban masses. Urban areas where trust declines steadily, where crime is an ever-greater threat, and where government becomes all-powerful and all-encompassing, yet fails more and more to serve people in any way which justifies its existence. This decay is measured, all too often, in ever more victims of more crimes, against property and persons, non-violent and violent. And crowding, lack of trust, and overall societal atmosphere leading to higher levels of callous attitude and behavior towards others. The result? More crime and less caring about crime’s effects on others. No honor for others, no respect for self.
These sorts of things happen often in large urban rat-warrens. Although it is a “feature” (no, not a defect in too many eyes) of many cities, this one happened in a suburb of Philadelphia.
This happened not long ago, as reported by NBC (shared by Newsbreak). “A 35-year-old man in Pennsylvania is facing rape and assault charges after a woman was sexually assaulted on board a public transit train Wednesday night as riders witnesses the attack but did not intervene, authorities said on Friday. The woman was assaulted at around 11 p.m. while riding the Southeastern…”
In San Francisco, in 2021, there has been one car break-in for every 52 residents: more than 17,000 so far, 3,000 in November alone. Mostly while people watch.
Sadly, this is the state of the nation today – it is not new but more and more common. Not as much in truly rural areas, and frontier areas. Paradoxically to some, locations where people do NOT live cheek to jowl are more likely to have people caring about one another – and especially strangers – than crowded towns and cities.
Why? Don’t attribute it to a higher sense of morality and good behavior: there are self-centered jerks even in rural areas. There are sinners of every sort: even rapists and killers and certainly thieves and vandals and worse. Nor is it due just to having an armed, and arms-carrying populace. (Though that may be a factor, as evidence from here and overseas seems to point out.)
May I suggest that it is due to respect or honor for others – even if that respect is out of a sense of fear of what they might or could do to you if you attack them or theirs? That if you consider yourself to be a predator, understanding that there are others – individually or collectively – that may be better predators, at worst. But better, that people – humans – are worth treating in the same way you yourself want to be treated. To be free, treat other people as free. But to understand that in order to honor some people for their actions, you must understand what actions are dishonorable – to praise good is to condemn evil. Respect and honor for others does NOT mean “tolerance” much less endorsement of anything done. It requires making judgments.
And further, to self-respect? Not “self-esteem” as modern educational institutions teach. But rather, a proper understanding of their own value, actions, and worth and therefore the value and worth of other people. Not superiority, but not subservience. To live as free people and not for others, except as you decide freely and voluntarily to do. Also tied to the need to judge ourselves AS we judge others – that our sense of existence and worth does NOT mean that everything we do is good.
Back to the situation in Philadelphia. Am I right to blame a whole city for this sort of immorality – not just the rapist, but at least a dozen or more people failing to do anything but whip out their phones and record the attack? Their failure to come to the aid of the victim? To oppose the evil actions of the rapist?
I believe so: not entirely to blame, but certainly with significant responsibility for these failures. Because the urban areas – their governments, their other institutions, and even their businesses and families – have failed to instill and then encourage both honor (respect) for others and self-respect. By promoting an “anything goes” culture, in which the responsibility so essential to liberty is more and more absent.
And that brings us to the last point of the title: … AND MAYBE LOVE. Not sexual love – eros. Not familial love – storge. But rather brotherly love – that very character trait Philadelphia was named for: phileo. And also, if I may step on some toes: even agape – love that is unconditional for the benefit of others. “Love your neighbor as yourself” does not work when tolerance and self-esteem mean to hate and demean yourself by submission to evil. Or where you are told that your emotions are driven by, say, a statue or memorial which does not match your view of the world. Where the appearance of tolerance is valued above the reality. When inanimate objects and people’s choice of words (now or years past) dictate your emotions and your response.