On the manipulative game, I’ll play it, too,’
On the day of September 11, 2001, buildings crumbled, and thousands died as planes crashed into the twin towers in New York City. The United States saw the epitome of evil for the first time, and succeeding the atrocious acts, entered a new time – one in which it was imperative to modify everyone’s daily lives for the wellbeing of the nation. The United States now exists in a time when the safety of the people is a primary factor in how people live. This controversy has provoked the debate of the security of the nation versus the liberties the nation holds sacred. In an effort to preserve vigilance and ensure the safety of the people from the wrath of terrorism, the nation has had to sacrifice freedom for safety even though it goes against a principle of the Constitution. H.L. Mencken says, “the average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe.” This quote is not qualified because man wants both to be free and to have safety; however, it is impossible for both total freedom and total safety to coexist. Like the quote, the average man does want to be safe, physically and socially. The recent raging wildfires in Southern California are perfect examples of how average people want basic physical safety. With so many evacuation orders in place, people are fleeing their affected neighborhoods in panic. Most people, once they get evacuation orders, pack up some of their most important things if they have time, and flee their homes, hoping that firefighters can save them. Everyone leaves looking for safety, whether it be at a family or friend’s place or one of the safety evacuation centers that have been set up. As well as physical safety, people also want to be safe socially. In “Two Ways to Belong in America,” by Bharati Mukherjee, one of the two sisters states that, “‘if America wants to play the manipulative game, I’ll play it, too,’ she snapped. ‘I’ll become a U.S. citizen for now then change back to India when I’m ready to go home,'” (Mukherjee 282). The sister seeks safety by trying to socially assimilate herself into the American culture. In a new environment, it is not implausible that one would try to fit into their surroundings in order to feel accepted. Without this social acceptance, one cannot get a job to support oneself or may be threatened by those who hold racial stereotypes. By choosing to give up the freedom to express who she truly is, the sister instead chooses the safety of being accepted into her new culture. People want safety, whether that be in the most basic physical sense or in larger crises.Unlike the quote states, however, the average man does also want to be free, especially intellectually. In “The American Scholar,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson believes that the scholars of America are stuck in a barring, conventional style of writing and ideas by stating, “free should the scholar be,–free and brave. Free even to the definition of freedom, ‘without any hindrance that does not arise out of his own constitution,'” (Emerson 8). He promotes non-conformity, self-reliance, and anti-institutionalism so that original ideas could be encouraged. Emerson implements a list of duties that a scholar should grasp in order to attain a distinct American intellect. Some duties he mentions are self-sacrifice and that a scholar must remain true to themselves, even in the face of public persecution. Emerson argues that scholars should have the freedom to write in any style they wish because they have the freedom to do that now, unlike when they were in Europe and had virtually no freedom, causing their ultimate move to America. Emerson supports the idea of an average man wanting freedom. Although man seeks to have both total freedom and total safety, these two ideals cannot exist together; one has to be sacrificed in order to have the other. This conflict is exhibited in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. In the play, the citizens of the town are caught up in this conflict of whether they choose freedom or safety. Considering that The Crucible is an allegory for the Red Scare, the citizens exemplify the definition of hysteria and having to choose safety or freedom because they cannot have both at the same time. In that time period, in order to stay safe and not be accused of being a witch, the person would have to sacrifice their freedom because they would not be able to express their true feelings without the fear of being accused. Unlike the preponderance of citizens choosing safety over freedom, John Proctor, the play’s tragic hero, chooses freedom by being upright and honest about his ideas, knowing that he could be killed because his individualistic ideas do not match up the frenzied ideas of the citizens. Because the citizens sacrificed their freedom for their safety, and John Proctor sacrificed his safety for freedom, it substantiates the fact that someone cannot have total freedom and total safety at the same time. For example, Danforth, the presiding judge of the trials, says, “you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time—we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world,” showing that someone can either choose to have safety by following the norm of the society or have freedom by going against the ideas and exemplifying that there is no inbetween of the two- it is either one or the other (Miller 87). Freedom must be sacrificed for safety and safety must be sacrificed for freedom, displaying that one cannot exist with the other.The United States saw the epitome of evil for the first time, and following the atrocious acts of 9/11, entered a new time – one in which it was imperative to modify everyone’s daily lives for the sake of the safety of the nation. This issue has triggered the often-controversial debate of the security of the nation versus the liberties the nation holds in its Constitution. In an effort to maintain vigilance and ensure the safety of the people from the wrath of terrorism, the nation has had to sacrifice freedom for safety even though it goes against the Constitution. H.L. Mencken says, “the average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe.” This quote is not qualified because man does want to be free and have safety, but one cannot be totally free or totally safe because one cannot exist with the other. Works CitedEmerson, Ralph Waldo. “The American Scholar.” Emerson on American Scholar, la.utexas.edu/users/hcleaver/330T/350kPEEEmersonAmerSchTable.pdf.Miller, Arthur. The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts. Penguin Books, 2003.Mukherjee, Bharati. “Two Ways to Belong in America.” Two Ways to Belong in America,http://images.pcmac.org/SiSFiles/Schools/AL/EnterpriseCity/EnterpriseHighSchool/Uploads/DocumentsCategories/Documents/Two%20Ways%20to%20Belong%20in%20America.pdf.