Free people seek the light, always

I wish I could remember where I saw it, and I wish I had written it down, or saved it, or printed it out, but I don’t and I didn’t so …

You’ll just have to take my word for it. (You do remember when a person’s word was his/her bond, right?)

Some time back I read about a historian who had tracked civilization’s ups and downs in waves, and this person predicted that the next great downward wave, a downturn bordering on dark ages, would begin in 2020.

I think about that article lately.

But it’s in my nature to seek the light.

Last month I wrote about how glad I am to live in a land where people drafted a Bill of Rights to restrict bad people from doing bad things, tyrannical things, to everyday people. Even though they still do bad things, tyrannical things, at least there’s a standard against which those things can be judged bad.

When the age looks very dark, that’s a very dim light to hang my hat on, I know. Barely a candle’s flicker on a breezy day.

Many of my favorite works of fiction are dystopian: Nineteen Eighty-Four, of course, and Animal Farm, and the 1960s TV show The Prisoner with its iconic shout of defiance: “I am not a number, I am a free man!”

Notice that: Held captive in a Village where faceless rulers insist that everyone think and act the same, where contrary thought is punished and no one may leave, this person cries, “I am a free man!”

And he is.

And, as darkness appears to be falling, and bad people are attempting to shepherd everyone into sheepish little villages and silence everyone who doesn’t think or act correctly, that flicker refuses to be extinguished.

We are free. Many don’t quite understand, but that’s The Thing about freedom: We are “endowed at birth” with it, so it’s always ours to exercise or surrender.

Bullies love to try forcing free people to surrender, but we keep reading and collecting the banned books, gathering in groups or retreating in solitary to speak and write what we please, creating great art and great businesses that free the mind, body and soul.

The response to tyranny’s violence is not more violence, because that plays into the bully’s hands. The bully can only tear down; the free person builds, always. No, the response is simply to be free. The tyrant needs your permission to take your freedom, and you needn’t give it.

If a new dark age is starting, then we protect the light. Every warming campfire begins with a flicker.

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