Thinking Past Fear

Thinking, today, is a condition of fear. This is why men you have never met patrol the streets with guns at their sides instead of beat guards moseying around the block with whistles like days of old. This is why we sometimes don't reorder our food when it is made wrong; we think someone is going to put a used condom in it. We're afraid of turning into our parents. We're afraid of being old and poor. We're afraid that having children will cost us money and adventure.

Spending so long in fear, we've learned to accept pathologically destructive standards for society. We think that people we've never met and never will meet even if we want to are entitled to our money so that basic living conditions might be maintained, and then when that money is used to bomb medicine plants and military boats, we grumble about how stupid the democrats are or how stupid the conservatives are or how the green party is always ruining things or how some other group, acting in an entirely democratic fashion, is threatening our democracy.

We pretend that others are capable of taking our place in a major decision and get upset when they don't do what we would. We don't say that men in Washington are bombing the middle east and north Africa. We say our president or our government bombed them, though we only ever get familiar with this government on the same screen where we watch pro-wrestling and quirky family comedies. What essentially amounts to a monetized gang which trades entertainment for blood is dressed up piously as 'our democracy' and 'our freedom.'

The west has been wholly destroying itself with a series of stupid fictions delivering every blow. We have pretended to be beyond good and evil when all we've done is create a vocabulary which makes it easy to dress our basest of desires and inclinations up as virtues. Someone told us that our feelings mattered more than anything, and we're afraid to feel the weight of our actions. The future screams out against our every step, hoping that the worst to come does so swiftly and ends abruptly, rather than dragging a centuries-long cultivation of inevitable slavery into the next era in which we lose whatever humanity we had and become things entirely owned in every way like mindless animals. We trap ourselves here because we think we're not good people if we question the way every single person we know lives. If everyone is telling you that something is right or wrong against your better judgment, you stay quiet and look for the easiest way to make your opinions fit into a palatable format, and who to say them around. That, or we fall prey to the unfortunate folly that so many people can't be wrong.

We are under the delusion that a property tax is somehow not, simply, an existence tax. We think it's normal for someone we don't know to own us, and that if that person doesn't own us, someone else will by default of our geographic position.

Sometimes, what appears like wonder in a child is really just pragmatism, unhindered by years of brainwashing. If you ask a child who's in charge and he says, 'My parents,' we don't think anything of it. It sounds right. We imagine that when we grow up, we will be in charge of ourselves. But as we get older, we come to find that more and more is being roped off, more and more red tape is being put up, and more and more decisions are being made about our lives by other people, and never with good, thoughtful intentions where our well beings are concerned. If you are a minority in a democracy, you are made to feel that the world is out to get you, and it often works in democracy's favor if that becomes the case. It makes the lines in the sand more distinct; it gives the people an enemy whose blood it can lap up with fevered zeal.

We are more afraid of offending those who defend murderers than we are of holding the murderers accountable. We're afraid of looking crazy for wanting what is most rational and for expecting rationality in other people.

Society would do best to find a healthy balance between the most childish wonder while adopting the highest, most uncompromising degree of responsibility. The maximum sense of responsibility is, paradoxically, the highest freedom. Today, we are atrophied by our dependence on thousands of services which keep us at a safe distance from life itself.

Freedom as a category, however, is quite tenuous. It's always changing depending on the circumstances. One thing is certain, however: it always requires a sacrifice of some sort. It may be that we would have to live without certain gadgets which only big, state regulated industry can pump out. Most of our freedom will have to be gained in opposition to our own comforts. We have come so far with technology and convenience, but we are not progressing culturally.

One would do best to opt out--stop consuming the things which trade blood and the unreasonable dominion of land for the minutest comforts which barr us from personal strength. Society has enslaved us because most people live entirely for affirmation in and of itself despite the fruits of our actions. People fall for anything which confirms their comfort and entertains their coziest prejudices. To break this pattern we'll need, not more self affirmation, but self persuasion. We will need to remember that some level of danger, some level of risk, is necessary for true freedom and that no economic reforms are going to save us, the free market is not going to save us, and slowing down our carbon footprint is not going to save us. It is up to us, but there can only be an us if we are willing to live with the highest level of awareness in a world which has already proven to us that the most heinous atrocities we can imagine are possible.

It is up to everyone to imagine something better, even as the husk of the old whithers away.