Ten years ago, people talked about how 9/11 was an inside job, and I thought what most everyone else thought: “Stop. Just please stop.” I watched Loose Change. I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. I heard the conspiracy theories. Some of them were more compelling than others. There were certainly a lot of things the civil government chose not to tell us about that terrible day (like how WTC 7 collapsed and all that).
But I hold firmly to Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.” The civil government could have orchestrated some magnificent power grab, or it could be that all of their vast incompetencies in foreign policy and domestic transparency ended up looking a whole lot like intentional deceit—even to the point of conspiracy.
We are a country in absolute crisis in a world that is equally troubled. So maybe there is a mastermind… or a group of them. Maybe there are international plots to control everyone. I really don’t know. No one does. Especially not at this point. It may very well be the case that corporate interests, a corrupt banking system, or elite underground power brokers with connections to pagan mystery religions have orchestrated an enormous coup in this country and the world. Maybe there is a puppet master after all. I would believe it now more than ever before. These seem like dark times.
But let me tell you what I think is far more likely, and what is true whether the conspiracy theories are mostly right or laughably wrong. America is on her knees because individuals don’t believe the actions of individuals make a difference—for good or bad. We don’t believe our own selfish pragmatism really harms the country. And on the other hand, we think selfless idealism in an individual can’t have that much impact for good. When people act only according to their own interests without any principles other than “pragmatism” to guide them, this is what you get. That’s all you really need to destroy a country. You don’t need secret societies or reptilian shape-shifters.
Our situation looks sinister. It seems like there’s a consolidated plan. There doesn’t need to be any plan. The face of the devil you are seeing in the outlines of our groupthink is just the irresponsible character of the majority of individuals writ large. Each of us has contributed to it in our little ways. And not one of us thinks our small gusts of faithlessness could possibly add up to a whirlwind. Yet here we are.
An illustrative example: I try to avoid driving in traffic, but sometimes, dire circumstances compel me. My least favorite highway interchange by far is the place where the Atlanta loop (285) meets up with the highway I take to my parents’ house (400). Traffic starts piling up long before you can even see the exit for 400. Many cars form a dutiful queue in the right lane to wait their turn to exit and merge.
Almost just as many cars, however, drive on past to the very spot where the exit ramp begins to disappear into gravel and the leftovers of old car accidents. These cars just cut in front. Dozens of them. But no individual line-cutter is responsible for “traffic.” And the line-cutters actually aren’t alone in their self-centered thoughtlessness. There are also the people at the head of the line (many of whom have endured the long crawl all the way from the back of the line) who refuse to let anyone cut in front of them. What ensues is a sort of halting accordion train car crunch. It slows everything down to an absolute standstill. It can sometimes take an hour just to travel that last mile. I’m sure people all over the country have similar experiences in their towns.
This thing called “bad traffic” seems sinister. It affects all of us. It looks kind of like a system. It’s really not, though it is an aggregate of interactions (kind of like “the economy”). Ultimately, it’s just a lot of people being selfish, and then a lot of other people being unwilling to “let the selfish jerks get away with it.” It’s opportunistic selfishness meeting principled selfishness. But selfishness prevails. Democrats are the line-cutters. Republicans are the dudes jamming up the line. But it’s everyone else that’s paying for it.
No one takes individual responsibility for his own actions. That’s why conspiracy theories work. People see bad things happening, and it doesn’t seem to work to blame it all on any individual. So it must be that a secret mastermind is controlling the whole thing from behind the scenes. This isn’t necessary. And whether or not conspiracy theories are right (let’s not rule all of them out—if only for the sake of late night conversations over beer), the question still remains: what can any individual do about it?
The solution is as hard to practice as it is easy to formulate. Because it involves giving without getting. In the traffic example, the real solution is for the upholders of queue etiquette to allow gaps to form in front of them so anyone that wants to cut can do so without slowing the flow of traffic too much. I understand this is really lame. That means all of those selfish line-cutters will just “get away with it.” Perhaps. But look at the alternative.
The alternative is where we are as a country. There is no need for a top-down governmental control program. We are already firmly controlled by our pragmatic selfishness. Forget conspiracy theories. We don’t need ELF or LSD in the water or whatever else to explain the insanity of our current condition. We did this to ourselves. Each of us in our own little ways with our own little compromises.
The solution? Do what’s right even when that means you suffer at the hands of fools. Live by convictions, not pragmatism. A pragmatist is easily controlled. Put a carrot in front of him and a whip behind him, and you can lead him wherever you wish. The future of the country depends on stubborn people holding to convictions (and not necessarily your convictions) whatever the cost or whatever the bribe.
For conservatives, it will probably mean that we fund Obamacare, but refuse to receive any of its benefits. Pay your property taxes, but home school your children. That sort of thing. This seems great in principle, but so many self-proclaimed “very strong conservatives” can’t help but take the bait when it comes their turn to practice what they’ve been preaching. Like Butch Matthews for instance. We’ve already paid into it after all, right? “Social Security is my money! I pay taxes toward Medicaid.” True. I’m not saying it’s easy. But the only way to avoid being controlled by our selfishness and/or Big Brother is to be above bribes. To be above offense and above reproach.
Even if all the conspiracy theories are true, what can we do but what is right in our own individual ways? And, in the aggregate, this can have a real impact. It might start to look like a conspiracy to do good.
And, just as an aside, don’t worry about whether or not “they” will get away with it. That’s nothing we can control. And, between you and me, no one gets away with anything, not even in this world.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com