Here lately I’ve been binge watching a series called The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. It’s 4 seasons long, and it’s about what America would be like if the Axis powers had won World War II. In essence, Japan has the Western states, the Nazis have the Eastern ones, and the Rocky Mountains are the neutral zone.
This show makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. I’ve written about fascism before. I fear we are flirting with it now, as we don’t seem to learn from history. In fact, we seem to be irrationally idealizing a past that never existed.
As uncomfortable as The Man in the High Castle makes me, the writing is phenomenal. It causes me to look at things with fresh eyes. One character said, “You’ve got your own little inner fascist telling you what you can and cannot do.”
That really resonates with me. According to Wikipedia, “Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.”
If that doesn’t describe my inner voice, nothing does. My inner voice is all about explaining to me how I can’t or shouldn’t do things. It’s all about walls and roadblocks and keeping me from doing anything outside the box. My inner voice wants me to be a good little soldier and follow orders.
“You’ll fail.” “You’ll be laughed at.” “People will think you’re crazy.”
Fortunately, I often chafe at this type of control, and can therefore resist it. But every once in a while, when I’m feeling tired or insecure, that little voice has caused me to avoid taking chances, or has prevented me from speaking up. And now that I consider it a fascist voice, I abhor it even more.
I think it’s high time that we all overthrow the little dictators in our heads. Cast off the oppression. End the torture. Free our minds so that we can be our best selves. We can do it.
And incidentally, if you are someone who uses the terms fascism and communism interchangeably, here’s a little primer by way of clarification.
There is an excellent yardstick for measuring liberty and quality of life. Simply consider how much freedom of movement you have. From that basic indicator, you can determine if you live in a police state and/or a cult, you will know how much information and education you have access to, and you will have a good sense of the level of prejudice you are being exposed to.
Your ability to travel goes hand in hand with your freedom. If you live in a country where the women cannot travel without the permission of their husbands or fathers, you live in a misogynistic police state. If you are in a religion that does not allow you to interact with outsiders or learn about opposing points of view, or worse yet, cuts you off from family, then you are in a cult. If you can’t go anywhere without having your papers constantly checked by authority figures, then you are a slave.
Inhibiting your ability to go where you wish is an effective way of controlling the information that you have access to. If you can’t even move about the internet, then someone else is controlling your narrative, and they have an agenda that is not in your best interest. If someone wants to leave and you don’t let them, then you have just reduced them to a mere object.
Also, preventing women or minorities from having access to education is a self-defeating power play. One should be able to travel in mind as well as body. If your opportunity to learn is hindered, you should wonder what the powers that be don’t want you to discover.
People who put up walls to restrict movement are the worst kind of racists. They are either attempting to keep a group out or keep a group in. Either way, they are restricting the flow of information, and preventing the masses from becoming unified. Divide and conquer.
The only things that should prevent you from being able to travel are your own priorities and your own budgetary constraints. And even that is a can of worms, because income inequality is another great way to keep us all ignorant and close to home.
The more you travel, the more you learn. The more you travel, the less you hate. The more you travel in mind, body, and spirit, the more you know what it is to be free.
I am on the horns of a moral dilemma. I believe very strongly in free speech and freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Nothing angers me more than a book burning, or a school board that requires teachers to avoid teaching things that are science-based. I am usually the first to read a book if it gets banned.
Because of all the above, it kind of makes me squirm that, ever since I started my Little Free Library, I have been actively participating in censorship. It’s true. I have. And I will probably continue to do so.
Ugh! I’m going to hell in a handbasket.
The way a Little Free Library works is that people can take books and keep them as long as they want. They can return them, too, or they can bring other books. Most things are welcome. But some things I have to remove.
I look at myself as the curator of my library. Just as museums have curators who determine what exhibits they will display and what image their museums shall project to the world, I, too, am in control of the types of messages I put out there in my library. Being a steward is a service that I’ve voluntarily provided, and it is, after all, located on my private property.
But this censorship thing is kind of a slippery slope, and one that I never thought I’d be sliding down. It all started with the pizza flyers that someone stuffed in my library. I’m not here to advertise for local businesses. Those flyers went into the recycle bin, and I didn’t feel bad about it at all.
I also know I wouldn’t feel bad about pitching any pornography, were it to appear. My little library is often used by children. Can you imagine if little Johnny came home with a Penthouse magazine and Mom found out he got it from my box? No. Not appropriate at all.
I also get rid of books that are in poor condition. If the spines are torn off, for example, they get sent to Goodwill. I don’t want to be the dumping ground for everyone’s garbage books. That, and no one will want to take a disintegrating book to read, so it’s just taking up much-needed space. I also get rid of moldy books and ones that reek of cigarette smoke. I don’t want to trigger someone’s asthma. Again, these are situations that don’t feel morally ambiguous to me.
But here’s where it gets a little sticky. I’ve also donated religious books to Goodwill. I’m all for seeking your own spiritual path, but there are other sources for this information. I don’t want to proselytize, either purposely or by accident. It’s just not in my nature. I also know that the people in my neighborhood participate in a wide variety of religions. I don’t want anyone to feel alienated. Maybe I’d include a book on comparative religion, if it wasn’t promoting one philosophy over another. I don’t know.
I’ve also been avoiding putting blatantly political books out there. Mostly the books I’ve come across have been in alignment with my point of view, but if I put those out there, then I’ll have to put out ones I actively disagree with, and that would make me cringe. So, further down the censorship slope I slide.
Since I started my Little Free Library, I’ve met a lot of LFL stewards online. They’ve shared a multitude of moral dilemmas that have made me realize what a complicated task I’ve taken on.
For example, one steward received a children’s book which said, “For Boys Only” on the cover. I don’t think I would include this book in my library. I don’t want to participate in making girls feel as though there are things they cannot do or read.
Another steward discovered a bunch of anti-vax literature in her library. No. No. A thousand times no. I will not actively participate in spreading false information that could potentially lead to death. I refuse. This information has been debunked by the scientific community, so I’m not spreading it. I could not share literature that denies climate change for the very same reason.
Another steward received a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. In a world that is experiencing a shocking escalation in hate crimes, would I want to put that lunatic’s poorly written, hateful ramblings out there? Hell to the no. While I think this is an important book, for researchers and historians and people wanting to learn about hate without being sucked into it themselves, it requires context. I am unable to provide that context, and so it wouldn’t be included in my library.
I’ve had my library for less than two months, and I’ve already come a long way from simply tossing out pizza advertisements. Rest assured, there are plenty of amazing books in there. I get excited every time I look. Reading enlivens me. It’s an adventure.
But here’s what is making me lose sleep: Where do I draw the line? Who am I to sit in judgment? Do I have the right?
There are some sick, twisted people in this world, but ones who hold their daughters captive, just because they can, are right down there in the deepest part of the scummiest of ponds, as far as I’m concerned. You’d think I was talking about something in the distant, ignorant past; some dark age custom that we can look back upon and shake our heads. But no, this is going on right now.
According to a recent article in the New York Times entitled, A Princess Vanishes. A Video Offers Alarming Clues, Sheikha Latifa, a princess from the United Arab Emirates, has not been allowed to leave her emirate in 18 years. During that time, at various times, she has been beaten, she has been held in solitary confinement for years on end, she has been deprived of medical care, she has been drugged, and even deprived of a tooth brush. She is escorted everywhere, cannot go to private residences, and is prevented from furthering her education.
Recently she escaped, but days later she was abducted again and returned home, kicking and screaming and begging to be killed. Such is her life. She’d rather die than be with her family. It’s horrifying. It’s heartbreaking. It’s criminal.
This is not the first time, nor the first country, where such atrocities have been exposed. Back in 2014, it came to light that 4 Saudi princesses had been locked up on the brink of starvation, and as recently as 2017 the situation has not changed for those poor women, despite the fact that their father has since died. But you hardly hear anyone talking about them anymore, because it’s so hard to get new information, and even harder to keep our attention, despite a movement for them, created by their mother, called Free the Four.
And make no mistake, this doesn’t just happen to royals. For example, according to this article, if you don’t have a benevolent male relative in Saudi Arabia, your life can be a living hell. You cannot travel without that relative’s permission. Your passport is confiscated. You can be forced to marry. Your salary can be confiscated. You can be abused, starved, and imprisoned. In fact, you cannot be released from prison without the permission of a male relative. And honor killings do, in fact, exist, and are a constant threat.
This situation devastates me. Here I have a guest room, sitting empty, that many of these women would kill for, and there’s nothing, nothing I can do to share this good fortune with them by obtaining their freedom. Except blog.
It’s really weird when it suddenly occurs to you that you’ve been operating under a self-imposed rule. Because, just like that, you realize that if you were the one making the rule in the first place, then, hey, you don’t have to follow it anymore, do you? Ah, the freedom!
For example, if you live alone, you don’t have to make the bed if you don’t want to! Woo hoo! If you’re the only one who ever sees the back yard, you only have to mow it when you feel like it. Sweet!
I had one of those epiphanies just the other day. Here it is: I don’t have to respond to everything. That’s huge.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in common courtesy. I make it a point to say thank you and excuse me. That’s the type of lubrication that’s required to keep a civilized society running smoothly.
But I don’t have to respond to unsolicited advice. I don’t have to correct rude behavior (unless I’m looking for closure). I don’t have to explain myself or justify anything. (But I still believe in doing the right thing.)
Just because someone asks an idiotic question, that doesn’t mean I’m obliged to answer. Not every comment requires my input. Not every insult needs to be avenged.
There’s also really no point in carrying your side of an argument if, when all is said and done, it’s not going to change a thing. Your energy is limited. Save it for the positive stuff.
Sometimes it’s okay to let the other person have the last, stupid, selfish word. Whoa. What a concept.
Boy, oh boy, am I about to save myself a heck of a lot of time!
Wow. That didn’t take long at all. Ever since Janus v. AFSCME was decided by the supreme court to defund and defang unions to the detriment of the working man, the cockroaches have begun to scurry out of the woodwork.
One such cockroach-like group is the highly funded Freedom Foundation. They just submitted a public records request for the contact information of all the employees in my union and many others across the nation. They plan to send mailers to our homes to try to talk us into opting out of our unions. They are also showing up at workplaces, and they actually plan to go door to door to our homes, to get us to opt out.
If you visit this shady organizations website, you’ll see steaming piles of b.s. such as “We have a vision of a day when opportunity, responsible self-governance, and free markets flourish in America because its citizens understand and defend the principles from which freedom is derived.”
Yeah, because bureaucracies are KNOWN for their responsible self-governance. Good grief. If the free market systems of the world didn’t instinctively screw workers over, then unions wouldn’t exist in the first place. The only reason we HAVE any freedom whatsoever is because of unions.
Stay strong, folks. Don’t drink the kool aid. And if the Freedom Foundation comes knocking on your door, remember that you’re well within your rights to tell them to get the hell off your property. That’s what I plan to do.
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I just finished reading a Rolling Stone article about the financial woes of Johnny Depp. Hundreds of millions of dollars gone. Poof. Just like that. Millions taken by hangers on, apparently without Depp even noticing until it was too late. Much signing of signature pages without reading the actual content of the document. 6 million in fees for paying his taxes late for 13 years in a row.
Then there’s the drugs and the alcohol and the stuff. The stuff! An 8,000 square foot estate above Sunset Boulevard. The rock club. The 1940 Harley Davidson. The horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky. 14 other fully furnished residences. A yacht. 70 Guitars, 200 pieces of art. 45 cars. An island in the Bahamas.
It is alleged that his lifestyle costs him 2 million dollars a month, including $200,000 a month on air travel and $30,000 a month on wine. He once spent $108,000 on suits in a single trip to Singapore. A 1 million dollar wedding, and an even more pricey divorce. He himself claims he spent 5 million to shoot the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson into the sky with a cannon.
For God’s sake, it really isn’t all that difficult. Look around you. All that stuff you see? It used to be money. Now it’s stuff. And that stuff isn’t going to make you happy or keep you warm at night. It won’t stop your loneliness or boredom. It won’t make people love you more. It’s just crap, and it weighs you down. Every object is an anchor.
Before you buy something, ask yourself if you really need it. If you’re honest, most of the time the answer to that will be no. I mean, cavemen had very little, and they survived.
Okay, so we’re not cavemen. All we really need is a SMALL place to live, a SINGLE mode of transportation, a knife, a spork, a bowl, a shirt, a pair of pants, a pair of shoes, and about 3 pairs of underwear. Everything else is frosting on the cake.
And believe me, I know how comforting it can be to hide behind frosting. You don’t have to be all emotionally naked and vulnerable when you’re surrounded by distracting luxuries. You are not exposed. But you’re also not free.
Johnny Depp is known for taking on controversial roles. I would challenge him, and all of us, to do that with our lives as well. Strip down to only the bare essentials. Divest ourselves of the junk. Take a good, hard look at ourselves.