We talk about freedom and liberty in terms of politics and government. But freedom and liberty have more to do with psychology than with politics.
Consider the psychology of shaming. If you’re a dictator, you can’t depend on government for enforcement of everything. Sure, you can issue an edict demanding that everyone wear masks, even after they’re vaccinated, “for as long as I say so until I say otherwise.” But it’s the social shaming that really enforces the rule. In states like Florida, the Governor doesn’t even require people to wear masks. But many corporate stores do. The stores can’t totally enforce the mask mandates either, but they can count on shaming to take care of the job.
In order to resist shaming, you must have a strong sense of self. You must have self-esteem, self-respect and personal autonomy. Without these qualities, it really doesn’t matter if you’re living under a dictatorship, or not. Because without self-respect you’ll create your own kind of dictatorship by submitting to everything and everyone. You’ll create your own kind of inner jail, and perhaps start to resent others for the impositions YOU permit.
Dictators love people who are submissive. They can spend less money on jails, police and prisons and more money and energy on the things dictators like.
Events of 2020 and 2021 have shocked me. Even I never realized just how LOW the self-esteem and self-respect of most people are. I look at people wearing masks in their cars (alone no less), or masks on non-crowded sidewalks where even in blue states they’re not required. It doesn’t matter. Millions of people are SO lacking in self-respect and independent thought that they volunteer to advertise, “Look at me. I obey. I conform. Please like me.”
Most of the people doing this don’t really believe wearing masks help. Most grasp the fact that if masks really protect a person, then you don’t have to wear a mask to protect others. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in rocket science to grasp that if vaccinations work (and therefore are essential), then mask-wearing should no longer be required — much less be required indefinitely (if not permanently) into the future. Most people know the absurdity of all this. It’s the SHAMING they’re afraid of. “If I don’t do what I’m told, then I will look mean or otherwise stand out in the eyes of others. THAT I cannot stand.”
A society filled with people who lack self-esteem cannot survive. If more people had even limited self-esteem — and that’s clearly, tragically not the case — then no dictatorship could ever take hold. Instead, dictators are on the march as we’ve never seen before in the United States. Just wait until the the vaccination passports start being required. Oh, and the mask mandates aren’t going anywhere either.
Self-esteem comes from a strong sense that one is able to determine what’s true without authorities — and, even more, that it’s a sacred personal responsibility to do so. I don’t know where that trait went in most Americans. Its absence has created an overwhelmingly clear and present danger to freedom itself.
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