TED Conversations

Xavier Belvemont

TEDCRED 30+

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Is America too Paranoid?

Following recent gun-related events in America, the question on whether America should allow guns to be so widely accessible has come up.

It seems that the go-to argument for why guns should, under no circumstance, be restricted or limited appears to be this:
'if we aren't allowed to have guns, the government will come in and take away all our freedoms'.
(I'll belay the list of laws that have been passed over the last decade that essentially tore away at these very freedoms and that many of said people believe the president in power is a 'muslim-anti capitalist', yet the guns did nothing).

This logic also seems to apply to other areas too, such as terrorism and the military budget. Essentially that if we in any way alter 'xyz' then some undetermined evil is suddenly going to sweep in and destroy the fabric of the country, the population and its existence.

I've never seen these types of perspectives at such a mainstream level in any other country I've come across (including those with strict gun controls and small military budgets), so the question has to be asked:

Is America just too paranoid?

and perhaps by extension:
Is it hindering the country and its progress (both socially and economically)?

0
Share:
progress indicator
  • thumb
    Dec 19 2012: I'm not paranoid .... I can not write about it now though because they read all the replies ...... phone me ... No don't phone they are tapped .... come by ... no I'm relocating because of the spies that have moved in next door ..... Do you have a carrier pidgeon?

    I wish you well

    Harvy Smidlapp
  • Dec 22 2012: I believe that there is only one thing that proves the americans are too paranoid. Among all other parts of government getting reduced funding, while the homeland security has recieved more.
  • thumb
    Dec 20 2012: I copy this from Wikipedia: Paranoia [ˌpærəˈnɔɪ.ə] (adjective: paranoid [ˈpærə.nɔɪd]) is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. (e.g. "Everyone is out to get me.") Making false accusations and the general distrust of others also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional.

    I'd say there is a perhaps surprising level of belief in conspiracies. Still, I don't have the information to know whether people in America are more paranoid than people living elsewhere. Those who have been threatened or have felt betrayed (regardless of country of residence) may be more inclined to paranoia and may promote that in those with whom they come in contact. For example, many who have seen a lot of ugliness in war have an automatic reaction to various aspects of the environment that those of us whose lives have never been seriously at risk would not have.
  • Dec 20 2012: Very good Gowtham and Ted Lover
    I think that is as insightful as we can get. American thought is controlled in ways that are harmful.
  • thumb
    Dec 20 2012: Why tell them to reduce their military budget? It's their money not ours, if this is how they want to run their country then that is the way it is for them. How a country runs its self suffers the positive and the negatives but when American business starts to influence trade deal clauses that has nothing to do with actual physical trade then one steps in and says no deal.

    There is one way. Chip them all and have every tree and wall decorated in small but hidden cctv camera's as well as automatic 24 minute tweet locale updates to every ones facebook profiles and outlaw the wearing of hoodies.

    Gun sales go through the roof? Understandable considering who the victims were. It's up to them to work out what is best for their country and not up to us to want to torment them on these issues. Our cultures may seem similar but they are not though it may seem they are mirrored.
  • Dec 19 2012: "Is America too Paranoid?"

    It certainly is a very paranoid country and that does have real life consequences, for example the stellar military budget and suburban dads stocking weapons of war as if they expect a zombie invasion or a fascist coup, most of all many Americans are scared to death of their own federal government. It's mostly the underdeveloped southern United States that are the cause of this, the north is more like other Western countries.

    There are a couple of other paranoid countries as well: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and of course North Korea come to mind, I suppose that's not a list you want to be part of.
  • Dec 19 2012: America has numerous enemies; within her borders and outside it. I think the fear is obvious in the attitude of the citizens and the way the government suspects every progress made by the military in other nations.
  • thumb
    Dec 19 2012: 'CT Shooting: After Newtown Massacre, Gun Sales Go Through the Roof' http://www.policymic.com/articles/21023/ct-shooting-after-newtown-massacre-gun-sales-go-through-the-roof

    "Is America just too paranoid?"
    Sadly yes. Americans seem paranoid.

    "Is it hindering the country and its progress (both socially and economically)?"
    'American weapon industry' is making a lot of money, both on national and international level on expense of mass fear. $ runs our world after-all.
    http://youtu.be/a2hbzq25VAE
  • thumb
    Dec 19 2012: No and just because you are paranoid doesn't mean no one is after you.
  • thumb
    Dec 19 2012: American public are kept under pressure by the system itself... So these kind of events are just a byproduct of its frustration.... not all groups are given the same level of importance and the neglected want something. Clearly the killer had to loose something close to him and to compensate that his mind made a decision to do mass murder. I think that the system itself is flawed and the pressure should decrease on the people. Peoples minds are under pressure , they desperately are in need of inner freedom.I might be wrong but its a possible way to look at it !...
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Dec 19 2012: I feel that the american minds are bound within rules built by government. The education system it self is designed to meet particular materialistic needs by business. The consumerism and materialistic living standards must be thrown and new way must be adopted.I meant to say that the definition of life itself is misunderstood. I'm sorry if i offended anyone. I might be wrong. That's the thing i see it in not only USA but also In INDIA and other places.
  • thumb
    Dec 19 2012: As I see it, the split in our culture and the growth of mainstream hate and fear began in the political arena, as promulgated by christian evangelists and talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh. They came together in a perfect storm that is still being felt today.

    I personally think that if, in the US, we were to establish a two-tier National Guard (those ADULTS who are willing to be called into active service in the case of national defense and those who are not - but who are willing to serve the state in which they serve in response to national disasters etc, then grant full gun-ownership rights to any individual who has completed 4 or 6 years of service, that we could then get the guns out of the hands of those with mental disabilities.

    Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed in late teens to mid twenties, so by placing these high-powered gun-owning-wannabees under supervision for a few years, then potential problems could be found before someone is given a pass to own whatever guns they want. Also, national service (though not requiring people to go to war) would be a good idea for the state and the communities that are in need. It would teach self-respect and teamwork and trust.

    On the other hand, those who have been sent to war should also have to undergo some type of process in order to keep their right to own guns. It's hard to tell when someone with PTSD will crack. War is a horrible thing.

    Yes, America is just too paranoid. Fear, which is the basis of paranoia, occurs because of excessive activity in the amygdala part of the brain. An active amygdala blocks effective use of the frontal cortex (executive center where rational, long-term decisions are made). Consequences of this produce more fear and amplify the cause / effect.

    America is INSANE - period.
  • thumb
    Dec 19 2012: Since 9/11 it at least openly appear to be... yet nobody is perfect.
  • Dec 19 2012: IMO, this amounts to the question, can we trust the government to protect our freedoms?

    I am one American that thinks we cannot. The federal government has a long history of deceiving its citizens and violating the Constitution. The Patriot Act took away all of our freedoms, and the Supreme Court approved. We went to war in Iraq based on lies. Somehow the National Security Agency became authorized to monitor all of our electronic communications, with no need for a court order. The government finds all manner of ways to defeat the intention of the Freedom of Information Act. It is a simple fact that the government continues to diminish our freedoms.

    Our suspicions of the government are rational, not paranoid.

    Freedom involves risk, and risk makes people feel insecure, which can lead to suspicion. Perhaps we are the most suspicious society because we have the most freedom. We each have no doubt that we should be completely free, but we feel uncomfortable knowing that all of our neighbors have all that freedom. The recent news events increase that discomfort.
    • thumb
      Dec 19 2012: 'Perhaps we are the most suspicious society because we have the most freedom'

      Well I live in Europe and the European block consists of roughly 50 countries. 48 of which (to my recollection) have no legal availability to own guns in any general sense.
      Countries such as Japan, Australia and many others have similar positions on guns too. Either quite restricted or non-existent.
      Yet we notice three things here

      1. These countries in every other area besides gun-ownership have the same freedoms
      (Infact far more freedom, going by your own comment)
      2. This mainstream position on the impending totalitarian idea is non-existent in these countries
      3. By your own comment, your freedoms have been taken away, so at what point have the guns helped if they exist for the purpose of keeping said freedoms?

      As I said in the original post, this also often applies to the military budget, where if even a fraction of the budget is reduced then apparently the military will implode and america will be taken over by...someone, somehow, despite having the budget equal to the next 14 countries combined.

      Is it possible that some of the fear has anything to do with media manipulation, who just happen to be on-side (perhaps paid off) by lobbyists for the NRA, Military contractors and private prisons, who would significantly lose out financially and/or with their hobby if policy worked against them?
      • Dec 19 2012: I must admit that my comment was contradictory. For most of my life I have been in the habit of thinking that my country has more freedom than any other, and it is a difficult habit to break.

        It is difficult to determine whether the guns have helped. Without the guns, the situation might be much worse. I will admit that this is a weak argument. However, it is certainly true that one of the first acts of a tyrant is to ban all the guns. When politicians want to ban guns, it raises suspicions that there is worse to come.

        Personally, I would prefer to reduce the military budget, and know of no one who has any fears about a takeover due to an insufficient budget. Our history may be part of this. We engaged in two world wars without sustaining any serious attacks to our mainland. Our TV sets have vividly portrayed the devastation to Europe and Japan (not much video from Russia, bet we read about it), then Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan. I think that many Americans are determined to keep that devastation at a distance. Hence, our large number of aircraft carrier groups. Another factor is technology. Our lead in military technology has been so successful that the thought of an enemy having a technology edge against us is beyond frightening. Keeping that technological lead is extremely expensive. The single most important aspect of the military budget is which Congressional districts receive the contracts.

        I think the media has much to do with what you call fear. It is very much in their self interest to advance the interests of their sponsors.

        By comparison with Europe, I must admit that we seem paranoid. I find this puzzling. In school we learn history as a progression from chaos to tyranny to democracy. We learn that freedom is precious, is earned in blood, and it is very fragile. Perhaps what you see as paranoia might also be viewed as an obsessive love of liberty.

        Thanks for the conversation. You have taught me something and made me think.