“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” ~Shakespeare
The bad thing about all the devil’s being here is that we’re surrounded by goddamned devils. The good thing about all the devil’s being here is that we have something to fight against, something to overcome. We have something to be stronger than, healthier than, more flexible than. We have a rigid fragility to shatter over our flexible antifragility. We have a cowardice to match our courage against. We have an excuse to “rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light!” In short: we have an enemy.
But the enemy isn’t people, necessarily. Get that out of your head. That kind of thinking is for outdated warmongers. No. This enemy is an abstraction of people. It’s an unhealthy disease that has taken root inside people. It’s a cancerous way of seeing the world that has made people blind to truth and open to deception.
The truth is that people are psychosocial sponges. They are easily manipulated. They are easy to trick. They are easy to convince. This is because most people don’t question things. They don’t question themselves. They don’t question their religions. They don’t question the law. They don’t question authority. They don’t question the government. They don’t question the “profoundly sick society” they grew up in.
And it’s precisely because they don’t question things that these tiny deceptions take root and eventually grow into giant devils that eat away at reasoning, twist logic, and leave people “convinced” of things that, when weighed against universal laws, simply are not healthy.
So, why don’t they question things? The simple answer is: fear. Most people are afraid of the answers they’ll come up with. What if the answers are scary? What if the answers prove that your job is immoral? What if the answers reveal that you’ve devoted your life to a folly? What if the answers expose your government for war crimes? What if the answers make you so uncomfortable that you must reevaluate your core values? What if the answers reveal that you never had healthy, authentic values to begin with? What if they were nothing more than hand-me-down, outdated nonsense reeking of parochial ignorance? What then?
The trick (after questioning everything) is to find something to fight for, not against. To find something worth defending. To find something worthy of your courage. To discover a healthy cause and then defend it. As William James said, “We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause.”
So, we’ve come to a crossroads. Ask yourself: What’s a worthier cause? War or freedom? What’s healthier? Defending freedom or fighting a war? What’s more moral (or less immoral)? Killing someone in self-defense or killing someone because it was an order?
The key is not to be overreaching with your cause. Don’t be offensive with your cause, only defensive. In other words: don’t violently force your cause onto others, but also don’t allow others to violently force their cause onto you. Don’t be overreaching. Allow for freedom. Allow others to take your values into consideration and move on if they don’t consent. Don’t hinder the freedom of others because you think you know what’s best for them. Just be an example of what’s best, of what’s healthy, and hope that they choose healthy values over unhealthy ones.
If they get it, they won’t hinder your freedom. They won’t bludgeon you with their values, or overreach with their power, or force you to do things without your consent. If they don’t get it, then you’ll have to defend yourself against their tyranny. You’ll have to defend yourself against their overreach of power and their attempt at forcing you without your consent. As Gandhi controversially stated, “When there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.”
Here’s the thing, down and dirty: If your values are based upon violence being the solution to problems, then your values are immoral and unhealthy. If your values are based upon hindering the freedom of others, then your values are immoral and unhealthy. If your values are based upon coercing people to give you money even if they haven’t consented, then your values are immoral and unhealthy. Bottom line: if your values are based upon violating the non-aggression principle, the golden rule, or the universal laws of healthy survival, then your values are immoral and unhealthy.
It really is that simple. What makes it complicated is cultural conditioning. What makes it complicated is people not questioning their petty indoctrinations: religion, politics, nationalism. What makes it complicated is that most people have been brainwashed into thinking that their shitty, unhealthy, nonaggression-principle-violating, golden-rule-violating, universal-law-violating values are good. What makes it complicated is fear.
The enemy of freedom is fear. It always has been. But it’s a particular flavor of fear that ignorantly consumes people. It’s the kind of fear that keeps people entrenched, that keeps them locked into tiny comfort zones and cowardly clinging to overreaching security measures. So perhaps the more precise phrase is this: the enemy of freedom is the fearful. Ask yourself: what’s scarier? Fear or the fearful?
It is fearful cowards clinging to comfort, security, and safety that make excuses for dropping bombs. It’s fearful cowards who choose fighting wars over defending freedom. It’s fearful cowards who think it’s more moral or less immoral to kill someone because it was an order over killing someone in self-defense. It’s fearful cowards who would rather be secure and comfortable but at war than insecure and uncomfortable defending freedom. It’s fearful cowards who think that state violence against free humans is a solution to problems. It’s fearful cowards who think it’s okay to hinder the freedom (immigration) of others. It’s fearful cowards who violate the non-aggression principle, the golden rule, and the universal laws of healthy survival.
So, here’s some healthy advice that doesn’t violate the nonaggression principle, the golden rule, or the universal laws that govern healthy survival: Moderate comfort and focus on courage. Moderate weaponry and focus on livingry. Moderate violence and focus on non-violent self-defense. Moderate security and focus on freedom. And, finally, moderate power over others and focus on cooperation. As Arundhati Roy profoundly stated, “the only thing worth globalizing is dissent.”
Read more articles by Gary ‘Z’ McGee.
About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
This article (Fear is the Enemy of Freedom) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Anna Hunt and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.