Dignity and the fate of the country

Have you ever watched a child who doesn’t want to do a chore? They swell up, imagining they’re bigger than anybody. They’re furious in their helplessness. They feel bad. They want to feel good. Finally, they screw themselves way up tight and blurt it out: “I’m not going to do it and you can’t make me!”

What you do then, defines the adult you may have forgotten you’re raising. The chore must, and will, be done. The child can be given a way to feel strong and grow through the experience. The child can be humiliated and broken into submission. Or the child can be aggravated and encouraged, by empty threats and false promises, to feel justified in her rage, and even allowed to finish the chore later under the pretense of acting out his own will.

This last, I guess some parents believe, preserves dignity and a sense of self-direction. In fact it promotes a deep selfishness, and an inability to separate real challenges from meaningless impositions. So it’s very useful later to powerful adults, who’ve learned how to fan a rage of indignation while taking advantage of the indignant. Helpless subordinates enjoy their temper tantrum, then walk off to serve their masters; believing they really ‘had their say’ that day.

We’ve had thirty years of steady repression of the American workforce, and the helpless rage now being fanned across the country, to keep control of an ugly agenda, has pretty much paralyzed a lot of us. Try to remember, democracy isn’t a joke.

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