Mucinex and Our Freedoms


"Excuse me, sir, I'll need to scan your driver's license."

These weren't the words I expected to hear when I tried to use the self-checkout at Target to purchase some Mucinex. I'm sure I've purchased this medicine or similar medicine at Target before and never been asked.

I thought for a moment, as I was searching for my ID, and asked, "Why do you need to see my ID?"

"Because people use this medicine inappropriately and overdose," he replied, as he grabbed my license, scanned it, and went on about his business like this was normal.

Two things crossed my mind. Sure, people probably do use these over-the-counter medications inappropriately and the nanny state has decided the answer is to track who is buying them. Secondly, this young man has grown up in a world, since September 11, where it's perfectly hum-drum for authorities to invade your privacy for some reason or another. He doesn't even think twice.

I'm 53 years old and I still can't figure out why our lives must be so transparent to Power, but Power feels no need to be transparent to the People.

When rights are taken, freedoms impinged, privacy ignored; it's never without reason. The Powers That Be always have a reason. No one would comply, if we woke up one morning and the government announced it was taking chunks out of the Constitution. They do it slowly and with reasons. We're protecting you from terrorism. We're protecting you from overdose. We're protecting you from climate fluctuation. We're protecting you get the picture.

I was 37 when 9/11 occurred. I'm old enough to remember what America was like before that much more freedom we enjoyed.  I listen to my parent's generation talk about a time when we were even more free than I can recall. 

I guess in the big scheme of things being asked for my ID to purchase some Mucinex is not a big deal. The problem is it's just one small symptom of a much larger issue. Our nation is slowly strangling the life out of our freedoms and our privacy. Now, as I worried when the 9/11 laws began to flow, we have a whole generation of people reaching adulthood who don't ever remember anything different.

That's how tyranny works. Stupid tyrants put tanks in the streets and invite resistance. Sophisticated tyrants massage the minds of people to accept their tyranny. Today's smart tyrants take control one paper cut at a time and always with some wonderful reason why they must.

Freedom is hard. It's messy. It's not always equal and fair, though we should work to make it so. Today many people have such a low opinion of human beings that they see freedom as a dangerous threat that must be stamped out to save us from ourselves. These people also often share the belief that only government can be that arbiter. The smart tyrants encourage this thinking and they take advantage of it to push the limits of their power to one new horizon after another.

Human beings spent thousands of years trying to get out from under the thumb of tyrants; to claim a measure of freedom and self-determination in this life. Are we to be the generation that gives it all back because it's inconvenient?

Many today seem ready to give it all back for the promise of protection from some threat or the inequities of life. Never in human history has any tyrant been able to protect the people from the very nature of life. However, they have demanded freedom in exchange for the claim that they can.

Freedom is about choices. It's about good choices and bad choices, but it's about our choice. Certainly, we should build a society that compassionately helps those who make harmful choices. It need not come at the price of our freedom to choose. That "protection money" is too high.

The opposite of freedom is fear. Fear is the primary culprit in people giving their freedom to power for protection. Should we just go with this flow and live in that benevolent tyranny? A thousand generations of our ancestors are shouting into our ears, "NO!"

Ray Davis
for 6 Sense Media