I thought this was just so insightful from Citizen Tom:
“Tyranny is making choices for others that those others have the right to make for themselves. What are those choices? In a free country we debate such matters. In a tyrannical state the tyrant decides. In a free country, we humbly admit that none of us have the either the wisdom or the right to run the lives of people who know their own situation better than we do.”
Amen to that! There are many layers to that concept and it can apply to the state of our Republic at large or the condition of our individual lives. Perish the thought I ever suggest “the personal is political,” but our politics really are made up of a lot of individuals who seem to suffer from this affliction themselves. Don’t forget all the friends and neighbors who suddenly decided people like me should not only have all our choices taken away, we should probably be thrown in the brig for being so non compliant.
To be exceedingly charitable about it, I suppose we probably all have a little tyrant living within. Some of us are just more aware of it, understand that the entire world does not revolve exclusively around us, and realize that tyranny is exceedingly immoral.
Many of us are actual grown ups, so we tend to keep our inner L’enfant terrible contained and under wraps. After having lived the past few covid years, I realize the world does not have as many grown ups in it as I once thought.
Something else that often drives tyranny, is fear. I don’t think I score very high on the potential tyrant continuum, but I have observed that when I get scared I am more inclined to want try to control those around me. So long ago I figured that the solution to that problem is simply to deal with the fear, sort it out, and refuse to give way to it.
God is good that way and the Bible is a very useful tool for sorting it all out. Somebody smart once pointed out that there are 365 admonishments about fear in the Bible, one for every day of the year. I’ve never counted them all, but there is lots of wisdom in there.
I have the fine distinction of living in the only county in my entire state still on red alert, still in a state of emergency, still at high risk for covid, still all masked up and fearful. In fact, our Governor ended his little reign of terror, his endless “two weeks to flatten the curve,” and our county commissioners promptly voted to not comply. Yep, they were so deeply disappointed to see their police state powers fade away they simply voted to keep them going on.
Anyway, the last sentence of Citizen Tom’s quote is really good, too. He said, “In a free country, we humbly admit that none of us have either the wisdom or the right to run the lives of people who know their own situation better than we do.” I’m chuckling here, I’m a wife and a mom, so that one is a bit convicting. I’m also a caretaker, a bit of leadership and looking out for others going on. I can’t tell you how many times the Lord has told me, I know you don’t like what you’re seeing, but you must let the grown up people run their own lives as they see fit. That means you must let them completely faceplant and destroy themselves if necessary.
I’m not very good at it, but I’m really committed to that principle. Except for small children who must be somewhat contained for their safety, and outright thugs who must be contained for our safety, I really do humbly believe that none of us have the wisdom or the right to run other people’s lives. That is just as true when serving in an elected office as it is when serving in a home. The freedom to run our own lives also happens to mean the freedom to experience the full consequences of our own actions.
I also believe in grace, in heaping kindness on people, but I’ve learned that we can do a lot more harm than good when we make our helping all about us, our fear, our unmet needs, our desire for power, our need for control.
There is a caveat to all this. Some people are so afraid of ever being seen as a tyrant themselves, they simply refuse to take a stand on anything, ever. Uhg, those kind of tyrants are just the worse. They are the peacekeepers, not the peacemakers. Constantly sweeping things under the rug and carrying on about the need for unity, as if their fear of conflict can be magically healed by everyone else just unconditionally obeying and following orders.