I’m not sure if “afraid” is the right word for what I want to talk about. I think I aim here to make the point that we aren’t all that different from people in societies we’ve been told to feel sorry for because they are not free to be their true selves. What got me thinking about this is all the commentary I’m seeing from all sides about Russia just deciding one day to take over a neighboring country because their leader decided it wasn’t really a country. I’m sure glad Mexico hasn’t done that to Texas, which used to be part of Mexico.
I felt like expressing that I care about the people there by wearing my shirt and watchband that have sunflowers on them. I think the watchband is a handy way to remind me to send of my good thoughts/prayers throughout the day. Of course, I’m also sending good thoughts to the average citizens of Russia, who have no control over what their leadership does. Oh, the poor people of those two countries, right?
Well, wait a minute. Why am I acting like they are any different from me? I certainly have little to no influence on what wars and conflicts the leaders of the country where I reside engage in, even though those may well put me in danger someday. And locally, there’s nothing I can do about fellow citizens who act like they are ready to mow me down just for having the nerve to want to get along with others and not thinking I’m any better than anyone else just because of who my ancestors are.
I feel like I live in the land of the free, as long as I am free to agree with the people with the weapons aimed at my property. Yep, just like people in the Ukraine or Russia. I don’t want to harm anyone and don’t mind disagreeing with others, which for some reason is so threatening to my neighbors that I am careful to not go around in public acting all peaceful, caring for people who are different from me, and practicing a different religion from most of them.
I was always told growing up how sad it was that people in the USSR had to toe the line and reject religion, democracy, and such. I was told how terrible it was that in China they went and killed all the intellectuals or put them in work camps, because they were dangerous with all those ideas and such. No, I was repeatedly told, we Americans are not lemmings who would march lockstep off a cliff if our fearless leader told us to do so. We aren’t married to just one ideology. No, we’re free.
Look out the window. Is that what you see? I see me afraid to express my thoughts or opinions, even among people I care about and wish the best for. Welcome to the oligarchy. Hey there totalitarian dudes! Enjoy running the place.
I do plan to stick around as long as I can, though. I love this land, and the land doesn’t care who’s in charge. And I love the people in my community. All of them. Nothing will stop me from wanting the best for them. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” I’m with him.
This was a bit whiny. I know perfectly well that it is way worse elsewhere, like Russia, where I couldn’t complain. I’ve been shaken by Texas elections and probably over-reacted. My main worry is that dissent may be stifled in the future, and we need dissent. On all sides.