Sunday, July 23, 2006

Refuse to be afraid

It's been about a year now that I've used the name Brian Wilson Richardson. If you look in my archives, you'll see the first entry is dated July 18, 2005. I like the name, and when I recently visited some newly acquired friends it felt odd but comfortable to be addressed as "B.W."

Not long after I started writing Montag regularly, a coda began to emerge: Refuse to be afraid. It came up so often, I made it the "subtitle" of Montag. That was a reminder for me as much as for you. It's so easy to let fear direct our lives, even though our basic nature yearns to be free. It's just that so many people, whether they intend or not, try to influence our behavior - restrict our freedom - by making us afraid.

Here's a problem - so much of what draws my outrage and ends up being discussed in this space could make a person fearful, too - afraid that so many people are doing so many things to deprive us of so much freedom, there's nothing we can do to stop them or reverse the trend. Sometimes I look at stuff I've written over a period of days, or on and off over months and years, and I detect that kind of resignation creeping in. "What's the use? The statists have won: A vast majority wants the government to take care of all our problems." And that may be true. Hell, it IS true: Not that the statists have won, but it's true about the vast majority.

So what's a self-respecting freedom-loving individualist individual to do? Well, first, refuse to be afraid. There are worse things in life than being alone. (For one thing, there's being not-alone in a roomful of rabid statists.) And you're not alone, anyway: If you believe you have the freedom to live your life as you please as long as you don't step on someone else's freedom, I'm with you. And so are the folks I've provided links to over there on the right, and so are a lot of the other folks they've provided links to. We're a minority, but we're a pretty feisty minority, and you may not know this, but a pretty feisty minority is what made 13 free and independent states out of the American British colonies.

(No, I'm not suggesting we take arms against the oppressors - England initiated the violence we now know as the American Revolution. The former colonies just wanted to go their way in peace, and the king didn't cotton to that. Oppressors tend to do violence even to nonviolent free people - but don't be afraid of that, either: They can't hurt the idea of freedom, and they can't make you not-free without your permission.)

I suggest simply that as we share the various outrages against freedom in this supposedly free nation, we remind ourselves why we're outraged, and that is: It's not supposed to be this way. By accumulating the evidence, we slowly but surely are building a case to prove our contention that we are not free, and slowly but surely that contention is being heard. How else does a movie like V for Vendetta get made, for example?

There's nothing we can do to win back our freedom? Balderdash. For one thing, we can write little essays like this one and share them as far and wide as we can. The war of ideas is never over: If today a majority is content to let the Vast Machine run their lives, tomorrow a handful of people will read this and decide not to be content, and they will share this little essay with a handful of others or, even better, write or speak these thoughts in their own words. And that's just the beginning. Claire Wolfe wrote a book called 99 Things to Do 'til the Revolution and then thought of 78 more ideas.

Agitating for freedom in an increasingly unfree society may win you more adversaries than friends in the early going especially, but it will win you friends. And it all begins with a decision: Refuse to be afraid.


Blogger Wally Conger said...

Thanks so much for the peptalk, B.W. For the past year, your blog has been a great source of encouragement, free of the bitching, moaning, and despair so often found in libertarian blogs. Rock on!

6:58 PM  
Anonymous sunni said...

Very nicely said. Thanks!

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Nettie said...

Excellent usual

10:35 PM  
Blogger jomama said...

Patience. The state looks strong now but it will eventually do nothing but chase its own tail and eventually eat itself. That's what force always does.

There's only one way to keep it from reforming, as I see it: expose it for what it is. If that doesn't work this time, it'll work at some future date.


9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the most common arguments against building nuclear power stations is the threat of terrorism. This is just one more example of the irrational fear that our politicians have bread in us. I refuse to be afraid.

7:28 AM  

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