I don’t recommend watching television, but I fell into one useful experience while watching it, some years ago:
It was well after midnight and I found myself in front of a TV, killing time. There wasn’t much on, but after some scanning, I found 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.
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 couldn’t see a way out.
These people were not stupid. 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 the truth is that people often do get help in those places; not from the leaders so much as the other attendees. Humans are clever creatures, and when they try to help each other, they often succeed.
My point, however, and my surprise lesson, was this: We can complain about the huckster, but he’s only in business because people have nowhere better to turn. They know they need something., but don’t know what it might be, or where to find it.
In Our Hands
As it happens, the cure to a great number of those problems has been sitting in our hands for years, and we haven’t properly appreciated it. I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic when I say that liberty people (myself included) have failed the people in those pews. We applied our ideas to the tar pit of politics, but overlooked people like these… people who needed help so badly that they’d chase hucksters.
And we should have known. At one time or another, all of us found ourselves at some gathering, talking to someone who was emotionally joined to the system. We’d say how much we wanted liberty, honest money, or whatever, and they would fly into an instinctive rage. We didn’t see anything dangerous about what we were saying – it was about truth after all – but they saw it as a direct and serious threat.
But as it turns out, they were right; we didn’t appreciate the scope and power of what we had.
The fact is that liberty and honest money are really about a decentralized model of life, centered on the golden rule… of applying the golden rule to everything.
And there are two important things to see here:
- “Golden rule only” is existentially threatening to the status quo.
- It would also solve the personal problems of millions of people.
In other words – and this is huge – what we had was far more powerful than we could grasp from within political mindsets.
Consider how many personal problems thrive on low self-esteem. I don’t know what the true number might be, but it’s clearly a very large one.
And how many personal disasters happen because people are afraid to use their own judgment? That answer, almost certainly, is “most of them.”
And so a large percentage of all such problems would fade away if self-esteem and judgment weren’t at such abysmal levels. And the decentralized, golden-rule life we’ve found would solve precisely those problems; not completely, of course, but very significantly.
The people in the pews I watched had been trained to believe that their role in life was to fear and obey, not to create and to judge. 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 golden rule life washes away. Again, ours isn’t a complete fix, but it is a big one.
We were 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 the systems they worship.
The Establishment needs its subjects to be confused, insecure, and ashamed; it couldn’t continue otherwise. And precisely that requirement is sickening millions of souls.
We hold a great cure in our hands. We should take it seriously.