In his book Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver remarked that modern man has the look of the hunted. We are, essentially, frightened little sheep. It wouldn’t seem that this is obvious until the contemporary state of mind is studied carefully. After all, most of us are egotists who walk around congratulating ourselves for our generosity and courage, and if we are not congratulating ourselves, we are worshipping the military or the police, which is the domestic military force. Today we look upon such violence and thuggery as manly, as somehow heroic.
The interesting thing about all this bravado is that it is based on a caricature of real manliness; it is machismo, not masculinity. Note well that the Latin word for virtue, virtus, comes from the word vir, which means “man,” i.e. the adult male. We do not experience much virtus these days; we are more like de-clawed cats who, in their powerlessness, hiss and bite endlessly out of fear. Anyone who is unconvinced of this needs only to examine the priorities of our society and the government.
Consider, most especially, the rapidity with which most will willingly, even happily, forfeit their individual freedoms in order to be “safe.” This lunacy is not only based on a false apprehension of how the world works—safety, after all, is an illusion, ultimately—but also, what is worse, on a faulty mindset, a paradigm that lacks courage, that is gutless. For all of our technology, for all of our wealth and knowledge, we contemporary men are gigantic wimps who are afraid of risks, afraid to die.
This cowardliness becomes more and more obvious every day. It is more than clear by now that the government benefitted much more than the terrorists did from the attacks in 2001. Encroachments upon the rights and privacy of citizens that were once unthinkable are now considered routine necessities, and entirely too many people are dumb enough to be grateful for these evils—the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, “preventive” war, and the like. The Cold War-style fear mongering over North Korea fits in nicely with all of this. The stupidity that goes along with cowardliness always seems to assume that the enemy is “out there” somewhere, rather than seeing the truth that the enemy is human nature itself, that we are all bumbling co-partners in the comedy of life. This mindset makes it quite easy for the government to distract the sheep.
More recently, we’ve had the Swine Flu hullaballoo. Now it is always possible that diseases can mutate and turn into something serious, but so far nothing of that sort has happened in this case, and thus far scientists do not think that this present H1N1 virus has the necessary ingredients to become a horror like the Spanish Flu of 1918 did. (This leaves aside, of course, all the compelling information which has it that the Spanish Flu, due to human, i.e. government, intervention, was much worse than it ever would have been on its own.) Despite the fact that panic attacks over this bug are hardly justified at this time, the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security are doing their best to keep us from sleeping at night. What could possibly be a more comical illustration than this that most government departments spend their days trying to justify their own existence? In spite of the fact that, on this subject, common sense seems to obtain with an encouraging portion of the population, the fear begotten from this as-yet non-issue will be used to increase the size, scope, power, and tyranny (but I repeat myself) of the government.
This is all a strange thing, isn’t it? I thought we modern men were tough? It would seem that, rather than being tough, courageous, or virtuous, that we are simply violent. We seek to crush whatever it is we fear with immediate force. It was this fear that motivated the bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki in 1945; it was this fear that took away many of our freedoms in the early portion of this decade; and it is this fear which will continue to keep mankind under the thumb of Leviathan.
We are, in short, afraid to die. We expect everything to go our way, and we despise adversity. This attitude is not conducive to true freedom. Anything worth having is a risk, and this is true for freedom as well. Without the courage to face life’s hardships, we will forever be prisoners. We will be animals, not viri. Manliness will be absent.
“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Give me liberty or give me death.”—Patrick Henry
“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”—Benjamin Franklin
These sayings would seem to many to be empty rhetoric, but really they are statements of practical truth. If you insist on being a wimp, then expect to be a serf.
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