The Word We Need To Make Sense of This Moment

(Originally published April 8,2021.)

The past year has been a mass confusion of fear, misinformation, cover-ups, tyranny, crazed true-believers and more. Making sense of it has been difficult, and even those of us who try to do so professionally have come up short. But this morning the word we’ve needed rolled through my mind as I was waking up. And that word is scope. Please bear with me as I explain.

There’s a definition of happiness that I love, more or less a paraphrase of Greek philosophy:

The exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope.

There is a tremendous amount that can be unpacked from that short passage, and I suggest that you spend some time with it, but it’s the last phrase that’s so crucial to us now: a life affording scope. That’s what has been stolen from us over the past year, and it’s far more important than most of us have understood.

To limit the scope of human action… the scope of human will… is to limit our ultimate assets, which are intelligence, self-reflection and creativity. Without them, we sink back to an animal existence, because those are precisely the things which we have and which animals lack.

There is no greater crime than the mass restriction of scope. To oppress talent is to impoverish billions of humans yet unborn.

The Crushing of Scope

What we’ve seen since early 2020 has been the suppression of scope. Supposedly it was for our own good, but only the terrified really believe that. Even the high priest of restriction, Fauci, started out by saying that masks were unnecessary and that the necessary restriction was “fifteen days to flatten the curve.”

Bear in mind, please, that political power is exercised with mass restrictions of human scope. Enforcement, regulation and the rest are other words for restriction

I won’t list the actions of people who worked for years to gain political power then jumped at the opportunity to use it; what matters more is to understand that power-holders will take advantage of opportunities to limit our scope. That’s what power does.

And that is precisely what has happened over the past year. Our scope has been progressively reduced, to the point of lunacy. It has brought us downward from a proper human existence and toward the life of farm animals.


Paul Rosenberg