Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Running with the mute-ants

OK, for a while I've been less prolific and wondering if I was just too busy with the day job and such, or if something else was going on. Then I found myself nodding in agreement with much of what Taran Jordan is experiencing ... some excerpts:
It’s an odd thing, but for months now, I have felt very little desire to speak out on issues, or get into debates with sheeple. Even, or maybe especially, about freedom ...

Now, too, when I hear of abuses, I don’t get het up with anger or outrage anymore either, the way I used to. (And it was that energy of fed-upness and violated justice that motivated a lot of my writing.) I do often feel for the victims, if true innocent victims they are.

But the feeling I now experience toward the perpetrators is a cross between indifference and quiet resistance. And I think it’s that quiet aspect that has me not talking or writing about my thoughts, concerns or plans.

It’s a struggle within, because one voice in my head says, “But these issues are vital and should get some exposure, and you can give them that!” The other voice, though, counters, “Those who care at this point are already aware. The rest aren’t interested in being preached at by you. Let reality educate them, as it soon will.”

No coincidence, then, that last week, heavy into this mood, I decided to reread Atlas Shrugged.

I can't say I feel exactly the same — I'm not ready to do the gulch thing and I continue my plans to race into print this summer to speak out with a collection of thoughts called Refuse to be Afraid — but I feel Lightning's pain, if pain is the right word to describe it.

The voice of freedom these days is a lonely voice crying in a wilderness. The statists who declare man and woman to be herd animals have long held the upper hand, to the extent that we who seek to live on a little land in a wooded area find ourselves fighting a nagging feeling that we are guilty of a selfish something called "urban sprawl." Why would a good little human want to separate from the herd and inhabit an area larger than a comfortable little lot surrounded by other good little humans, after all?

But then there's the bigger nagging feeling, the one that feels like The Real Me yearning to break out, the one that says man and woman are not dogs, not pack animals. You cannot define me by the color of my skin, my sex, the ethnic history of my family, the region of the world I have chosen to inhabit, or even the philosophy I have have adapted and adopted as my own, because there has been no one quite like me in the history of the world and never will be again — I am, in short, a unique individual, and you cannot lazily define me with words like "white man" or "libertarian" or "journalist" or "Scandinavian American" — and this is the most important part: Every soul I encounter today is just as unique, even (perhaps especially) those whose eyes are glazed over and are running with a pack, and I cannot dismiss them as anything less than a distinct individual.

Atlas Shrugged portrays a nightmare world where the herd mentality has won the day, but those chosen as shepherds have had enough of perfectly capable humans expecting them to be sheep herders, and they separate themselves, leaving those who believe themselves part of a herd to fend, unsuccessfully, for themselves.

In the memorable dystopian TV fantasy The Prisoner, our protagonist screams, "I am not a number, I am a free man!" even as he is forcibly kept captive in a jolly village and always addressed as Number Six — we never learn his given name. I understand Taran's feeling of quiet resistance, just as I understand the gulchers in Atlas Shrugged, but I don't think her weariness is indifference. I think it's just weariness. Rest a while, mute-ant friend, and see what comes next. Seems like for all this quiet, a novel is chugging its way along the rails of your soul, for example, a novel that addresses many of these themes — so you're not as indifferent as you might believe. You're just quiet, and resisting.

Funny thing about freedom, though: It's hard to stay quiet. You know everyone has a Real Me screaming to get out, and sooner or later you have to get up, run to the window and urge people to start yelling. We are free men and women, after all.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Taran Jordan said...

Thank you, B.W., for the fellow - feeling and the good, juicy food for thought. I'll get back to you once I've digested it a bit. :-)

By the way, that photo of Harrison Ford you posted the other day is yummy. Makes me hope all over again that he'll be cast as Hank Rearden if they ever do make the movie of Atlas Shrugged. :-D

10:08 PM  

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