I've always been a Kentuckian. I grew up in the middle of the mountains. I love Kentucky. Always want to live here. Want my kids to be able to live here. But the longer I am here, the more concerned I become over how I see important issues, as opposed to so many of my fellow Kentuckians. Why is that?
Most recently, I had a discussion with a friend who was quoting Thomas Jefferson regarding firearms. The quote, whether accurate or not, encouraged everyone to arm themselves. I indicated to him that "America was getting far more than it had bargained for from weapons." He responded, "freedom."
"Sadness," I countered.
He said that he didn't want to discuss the matter. That he puts all his trust in "Him" and that he was glad that "for now" we were still able to freely discuss this issue. I asked why he seemed to have so much fear. He said he wasn't afraid of anything, and moved the discussion to another topic.
Here is what I don't understand about that conversation. Why, like my friend, do so many people who place their complete trust and faith in God, fear their fellow human beings and the U.S. government?
Neither God nor the government is sending me that message of fear, and I follow things pretty closely. As a matter of fact, I'm hearing the total opposite. Since I was a child, my experience with religion has always moved me to love, trust and help my fellow human beings. As for our government, quite frankly, it is run by us. It is us. We pick and choose our leaders who all start out as private citizens, and our government is a direct reflection of who we are and what we want.
I've seen little reason to feel resentment and mistrust. After all, doesn't the federal government send hundreds of millions of dollars to Kentucky each year in the form of highway funds, Medicaid, economic development, Medicare, disability benefits and disaster relief?
Our state and local police do a fine job of keeping us safe at home, while the United States military — the likes of which the world has never seen — keeps us virtually immune from foreign invasion. I worked with federal, state and local officials for nearly 25 years, and the majority of the people I met, of both parties, were honest, hard-working people who cared for their communities and made great sacrifices to run for and hold elected office.
Now I'm no braver than the average person, so I just don't get it. Why am I not afraid if there really is so much tyranny and danger around me? Why do I see such a clear distinction between religion and violence? And why don't I feel a pressing need to protect myself from my government and from my fellow Kentuckians?
Jerry Deaton of Frankfort is an author, filmmaker, retired lobbyist and legislative employee.