Friday, April 13, 2007

It's Not Apathy

We've got nothing to fear...but fear itself?
Not pain, not failure, not fatal tragedy?
Not the faulty units in this mad machinery?
Not the broken contacts in emotional chemistry?

With an iron fist in a velvet glove
We are sheltered under the gun
In the glory game on the power train
Thy kingdom's will be done

And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us...
-Neal Peart "The Weapon"

Political pundits often decry the perceived apathy of the American public when it comes to involvement in the political process. They wonder why people stay away from the polls, drown themselves in reality TV and talent shows, rather than engage themselves in changing the growing tyranny of government run amok. Why is it that so many people prefer to finish their day off being lulled to sleep by the droning of entertainment TV, rather than involving themselves in the process of downsizing the state? Even the large numbers of people who make the effort to go out and vote in the elections only do that one thing. That's barely an effort at all in any meaningful sense. So, why the apathy? Is it true, as some would contend, that the masses are “sheeple”, mindlessly going where they are told and doing as they are commanded? I cannot think that's correct for the great majority of people.

It's something much worse than mindless, unintelligent apathy. It's fear. Not the crippling, mind numbing visceral fear of eminent danger. It's the grinding, low frequency fear engendered by nothing more than the ever looming potential for destruction at the hands of another. The fear of being noticed by the powers that be and their representatives. The representatives who, even at the lowest levels, hold the power of life and death in their hands and over the heads of everyone. When even a petty bureaucrat in a tax department or a secretary in a government office can destroy a lifetimes accomplishment with the stroke of a pen there is reason to fear. Even simple tasks, such as a trip to the grocery store have the potential to end in death or imprisonment at the hands of a state minion. Over time these fears cannot help but become ingrained into the very fibre of a persons being and make them long to become invisible.

This, I think is the reason for the perceived lack of activism and caring. The need to become small and unnoticed by the powers that be. The constant small fears foster an old instinct that drives people to turn away and hunker down, hoping the danger will pass us by or take another, instead. Gathering around the television has become the modern equivalent of gathering around the fire in the darkness of the cave. The government has created a country where ruling by low level fear is the paradigm. Whether it's the police, the IRS, DHS, Child Services, the mayor, Al Quaida or whomever they all have one thing in common. They create fear in people and that cannot be good for anyone in the long run. It's no wonder so many people seek refuge in pharmaceuticals and entertainment.

It's no wonder that the masses cannot be reached past the myriad fears which they have to live with in their day to day existence. On some level they know that carrying the torch in the darkness gives you some degree of light, but it also lets the enemy in the darkness know where you are. Better to let someone else do it than be devoured by the beast.

Those who would promote a freer world are going to have to find a way to surmount the deeply ingrained fears that dominate so many of their neighbours if they wish to motivate the masses to action. It will be no easy task, either, so folks had best be prepared for the long haul and great disappointments. With the ever present fear so many already have it will come as no surprise that any message concerning freedom will elicit even more fear in many of the people who hear it. Those involved with the political aspects of the freedom movement are fond of mentioning it, often saying that messages should be moderated in order to avoid scaring people. Well, folks are already afraid so what's a little more fear if you might break a few of them free of the shackles of the ever present, grinding fear that already keeps them immobile?

Regardless, it's time we all left the confines of the campfire and the cave and somehow manage to walk without fear. Maybe we'll manage to bring a few others along for the journey.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
-Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
Frank Herbert "Dune"

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