Opinion

Ideas are the ultimate weapons | Andy Hobbs

As former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin said, “We would not let our enemies have guns. Why should we let them have ideas?”

Ideas are the ultimate saviors and the deadliest weapons. Guns and bombs can blow up bodies and buildings, but ideas can conquer the human spirit.

Ideas shape and guide both the conscience and the will to survive. Consider that two of humanity’s most controversial idealists, Jesus Christ and Charles Darwin, still create a stir not because they were wrong, but because enough people are afraid they might be right. Those two debates alone have prompted a seemingly infinite spectrum of opinions and arguments which, as a whole, increase humanity’s understanding of these men and their ideas.

Let’s not forget Adolf Hitler, whose bestseller “Mein Kampf” can be found on bookshelves around the world. As humanity’s most evil prototype, Hitler’s racial and political ideas carry little weight in today’s mainstream society. But in scattered neo-Nazi circles, Hitler’s word is as good as God’s.

The marketplace of ideas is a centuries-old concept that likens freedom of expression to the economic free market. In a free society, ideas compete with one another in the open market, and the best ideas — along with the truth — rise to the top.

The concept’s history and intricacies could fill up this newspaper, which sits at the hub of Federal Way’s marketplace of ideas. The more ideas we share and spread in Federal Way, the better. A tree-hugging liberal may reject a conservative gunslinger’s idea for a shooting range in Federal Way, just like a right-winger may puke at the bleeding-heart lefty’s idea for more Planned Parenthood branches. However, when those two sides duke it out in the marketplace of ideas, they will inspire further discussion and ideas from the masses. The more people talk, the more ideas enter the public arena. The purest ideas, the best ideas and the most popular ideas will rise to the top. Then the public takes its pick.

In Federal Way, one consequential idea was the strong mayor proposal for the city’s form of government.

At first, the idea was considered unnecessary and even dangerous. Opponents feared a strong elected mayor would invite cronyism and corruption. The longer the idea stayed in Federal Way’s consciousness, the more it was accepted. The idea’s true breakthrough came when City Councilman Jim Ferrell got behind it. Ferrell’s support as an elected leader added more weight and validity to the idea. Eventually, Skip Priest became Federal Way’s first elected mayor, but by that time, the discussion had changed from “do we want an elected mayor?” to “who do we want for mayor?”

The mayor and fellow city leaders possess real power to create positive change (or fire up Federal Way’s voters) simply by picking up their pens, opening their mouths and sharing ideas. With that in mind, Federal Way citizens can play the same game of influence by either tossing new ideas into the ring — or fanning another idea’s flames.

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