I had been working late on one project or another. When I closed down for the night, I decided to turn on a TV and let my mind slow down before climbing into bed. But it was after midnight and there wasn’t much on, so I scanned the channels for a while.
I stumbled across a rustic infomercial from a local church. They were offering prayer for the sick, depressed, and overwhelmed. My thumb was poised to move to the next channel, but instead, I stopped and watched. I decided to look at the people in the pews—to really look at them—not as a collection of the misled, but as individuals.
What I saw were people who knew they needed help. They were in pain, they had failed to become what they wanted to be, they had hurt others, they were lost in the midst of a confusing world, and they didn’t know a way out.
These people were not idiots. They knew that dipping slips of paper with their names on them into holy oil was silly. But they overlooked it because they were desperate, and because maybe, just maybe, something might help.
And don’t kid yourself, people do get help in those places; not from the hucksters, of course, but from the other attendees. Humans are clever creatures, and when they try to help each other, they often succeed.
So, we can complain about the huckster all we like, but he’s only in business because people have nowhere better to turn. Their target audience is sitting in front of their TV at 1 A.M. because they are depressed, guilty, desperate, and they need something.
So, what if there was a group of people who had the solution to their problems… who knew how to eliminate the causes… but who didn’t apply them?
Yeah, that would be us.
I don’t think I’m being overdramatic when I say that we have failed these people. Applying our liberty only to the tar pit of political policies, we didn’t see how it applied to people like these… people who need help so badly that they chase hucksters.
Our Enemies Knew
And we should have known, too.
How many of us have had an experience like this: You’re at some gathering and find yourself talking to someone who is emotionally joined to the ruling system. You say how much you want liberty, and they fly into a rage.
We thought we were talking about something good, but they saw it as dangerous.
As it turns out, they were right; we didn’t appreciate the scope and power of what we had.
What Is It That We Have?
Let me start with a question: How many personal problems, do you suppose, thrive on low self-esteem? The answer, pretty clearly, is “most of them.”
And how many personal disasters happen because people are afraid to use their own judgment? That answer also, more than likely, is “most of them.”
So, how many of these problems would fade away if self-esteem and judgment weren’t at such abysmal levels? Yeah, most of them.
The people in the huckster’s pews were trained to believe that their role in life was to fear and obey, not to imagine and judge and opine. They had their wills crushed by hierarchy and its institutions. They were confused by smooth-talking people in expensive suits. They were intimidated by people in uniforms. They were repeatedly shamed. They were taught to bow before the idol of authority.
Those are the sources of their problems, and they are precisely the things that real, applied liberty chops up.
We’ve been slow to see it, but the people who freaked out knew: Healthy, free, and confident people do not reflexively obey, and such people are an existential threat to their systems.
Rulership requires its subjects to be confused, insecure, and ashamed. And that requirement is sickening millions of souls.
We hold their cure in our hands. We should take it seriously.