Saturday, May 18, 2013

Despots... and Other Things worth Avoiding

Just imagine for a moment that you have been living in a house with some other people for five years. Also imagine that upon inspection it is discovered that the house has an improperly wired circuit breaker box. When that is discovered you say to the people who are living in the house with you that the circuit breaker box, incorrectly wired, is a fire hazard just waiting to happen and could burn the house down killing everybody living in it.

The response from your cohabitants, being less enthusiastic, is that it hasn’t set the house on fire yet. You worry too much! Let me know when it actually starts a fire and then I’ll be concerned about it.

Would you think them kind of detached and potentially insane?

Just imagine for a moment that you decide to go camping in a canyon. So you set up your camp in the bottom of the canyon. Looking at the sky you notice all of a sudden that it looks like it’s going to rain pretty hard. Looking on the ground around your campsite you notice that you’ve established your camp in a dry riverbed. You find yourself wondering as you look up at the darkening sky if you should move to higher ground, and thus, you mention it to your friend.

As the sprinkles begin to fall his sort of snide reply is something to the effect of it only being little tiny drops of water that couldn’t hurt anybody.

Would you think him kind of irresponsible?

Now I know this next one is going to be a stretch. Just imagine that you are living in a country in which the leaders are doing things that history has shown to be characteristic of despotism. So you point out to somebody that the president may have aspirations to tyranny, because he, like other tyrants of the past, is using government power to do something that is not in good keeping with the standards of freedom.

And the response you get during this conversation is that it is only one little thing. You worry too much. Hitler and the other tyrants wanted to wipe out a whole bunch of people. Let me know when the president wants to wipe out the whole race of people then maybe I’ll listen to you.

Now back to the fuse box. Why not wait until the house is on fire before doing something about it? Why not wait until the flash flood is up to your neck before moving to higher ground? Why not wait until a rogue president starts killing large masses of people before becoming suspicious about him?

The house is already on fire and you may not get out alive. The river in the canyon is over your head and you may drown. You wake up one day to find nice men with guns at your door who want to pack your family up into a train and move them to a concentration camp. In other words, it’s too late.

Just like the canyon’s river, despotism is like a flood. Devastating in its effects, yet subtle in its causes, and like the flood is composed of gallons of water which when viewed individually are harmless but when together are catastrophic.

This is the problem with our society. As it is said, unless you understand history you are doomed to repeat it. So people look at somebody like Hitler and say he killed tens of millions of people, because that’s all they bother to know about him, so that becomes their standard. When a president kills tens of millions of people we will consider him bad, like Hitler, then we’ll take action against him.

Most people don’t understand that the successful establishment of despotism is in subtlety. They take tens of thousands of things to accomplish, any single one of which is harmless, but taken together as a whole, can be fatal. Like rain falls in drops, each in and of themselves is harmless, but when collected together is a flood capable of total destruction. One could dip a bucket into a flood and say about it, that it is only a gallon of water. The underlying principle is that the more life threatening a situation is, the more complicated it is. It’s not one thing, the desire to wipe out tens of millions of our own people for example, which establishes a savage dictatorship. That is the end result, not the cause.

You can’t look at someone like Hitler, 1938 through 1945 and establish that as a standard for what to look for in a corrupt government and still hope to avoid a catastrophe. Hitler, 1938 through 1945 is the catastrophe. At that point the fuse box has already set the house on fire. You have to look at what was going on in Germany during the 1920s and the early part of the 1930s to avoid a disastrous repeat of history.

If you don’t understand why the German people followed Hitler you would never be able to avoid following someone like him yourself. You would never be able to see him coming. You might even support him. And most certainly you would never be able to prevent someone like him from gaining power again. Despots never appear at first as they are in the end.

Now I am not saying that anybody is Hitler, which is not to say that I’m not seeing a lot of the same things that Hitler did in his early days which eventually established him as a despotic ruler. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be Hitler; the same rules apply to any dictator. And the principles of tyrants are universally the same between them all, just as water always behaves the same way. I’m just using Hitler as the example because he’s the most broadly familiar. What I am definitely saying is that lately, from this government, I have seen an awful lot of gallons of water go by. And every time I point one out I get the same response having to do with waiting until they start killing people before getting worried about it.

I don’t think people should wait that long.

It is our constitutional duty as citizens of the United States of America to be suspicious of and criticize our leaders. And truth be known, they aren’t really our leaders anyway. They are our servants.

God made the universe really, really, big. For all intents and purposes we are surrounded by infinite possibilities on all sides. There are so many different people with so many different ideas it leaves me to wonder why anyone would think that the government has to be the one solution to so many of the problems we have in the world today.

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