Comment: Part II - Compassion

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Michael Nystrom's picture

Part II - Compassion

On Anonymity, Cowardice and Courage

WCU4Paul: Prior to Ron Paul's announcement that he was forming an exploratory committee, I had actually registered a domain and begun building a site to encourage my preferred candidate -- a celebrity we all know who is well respected in this movement -- to run for the presidency. Not being a programmer, I put many hours into just trying to get the site looking good and operating smoothly; and even then it lacked Web 2.0 capabilities.

I know. You registered the name with GoDaddy on December 3, 2006, and it expires on December 3, 2010. Like I said, we smoked you out pretty quick after you started harassing me. I am thankful to have loyal and very, very intelligent supporters. Not much gets by this team.

WCU4Paul: Not being a programmer, I put many hours into just trying to get the site looking good and operating smoothly

Sounds just like me. Tough work, isn't it? I'm glad that you appreciate that what I do is no easy task. And programming isn't the last of it. Then I've got to come in and deal with people like you.

WCU4Paul: My current position (it's not political, it's in education) would be jeopardized by blatant political activity. My future career prospects would be jeopardized as well.

How sad. In the freest country in the world, in which you live under laws specifically designed to protect your right to free speech, you have voluntarily denied yourself that freedom. You believe that the money, prestige, promise for advancement, or whatever it is you have used to bind yourself in mental slavery, is more important than to be able to exercise your God given right to free speech. How very, very sad. And of all things, you're a teacher!

I want to thank you for voluntarily sharing these personal details about yourself, because they have softened my approach to you. In other words, they have transformed you from being an anonymous twit into a person. Your words have given me a sense of compassion for you, as I realize that you must be a tortured soul, having unconsciously put yourself in the position that you are in.

I am older than you, probably by about 20 years or so. However, I was once in your shoes, so I can identify with where you are coming from. Life was rougher for me than it was for the previous generation, and I have no doubt that it is rougher for your generation than it was for mine. I was once afraid, too -- of everything! I was afraid of what my parents might think, what my friends might think, what my boss might think, how my actions might affect my future employability, etc. All the things you probably fear now about publishing your name online. When I was in college, I remember being fed this particular line of bullshit: "You don't want any gaps in your resume. If you have a gap in your resume, you'll have to be able to explain it to your next potential employer."

What a line! But you know what? It had me terrified that if I took any time off to travel, or just be, I'd never get another job again!

Because I was once there, I can identify with you. Fortunately for me, I was able to begin to break free. Most people, for whatever reason, are not able to even see the fear they live in. They live their entire lives with that kind of fear. I hope that one day you will also be able to break free from your fear, which is the only reason I've continued writing this post.

I would ask you to reflect on what you're saying. I know where you teach. Teachers teach not only with books and words, but with their actions. In fact, it is their actions that speak the loudest.

What do you think you are teaching your students with your actions? If your students knew of these posts online, what message do you think it would send to them? Would it instill courage in them? Do you want your students to grow up to be like you? To be afraid? Do you think we can achieve Liberty in a country of people who make the choices you've made?

You're afraid to speak out, so you do so anonymously. You fear you have something to lose. But hiding your true self exacts an incredible cost of its own. Like I said, most Americans pay that cost daily. They keep their head down. They go along with the crowd. They go along to get along. With a populace like this, is it any wonder that this country has arrived where we have?

You've made a sacrifice because you think there is a payoff for you down the line in some respect. I don't know what it is you think you can gain, but you believe you won't be able to gain it without silencing yourself and your political beliefs. The sacrifice you're making is visible to your students in ways you cannot imagine. Think back to your own high school teachers, and what you knew about them by simple observation, without them ever saying a word.

I urge you to read John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. If you have not read it, I believe it has the potential to be transformational for you. We all need some type of transformational experience to begin to shake us out of our fear.

And in the end look at what has happened! You haven't even managed to keep your identity secret! Look at how exposed you've left yourself! Either you were just sloppy, or you left enough obvious clues because you wanted to be found out. I don't know which. But I do know your name, your address, your employer, your email address and more. If you're afraid that this information could jeopardize your future career prospects, you have now met your fear. You have left me with incredible power over you. I know exactly what you fear, and I have the information to destroy you.

Remember that sometimes you meet your destiny on the road you take to avoid it.

I won't go into all the rest on the post. You're right that it is just a bunch of petty squabbling - not worth anybody's time going back over and over and over again. We agree to disagree - fair?

The most important thing I want to impress upon you, and those following along, is the bedrock importance of personal freedom. If you are not free yourself, there is no way you can either understand freedom, or fight for it for others. As long as you are controlled by fear, you will never be truly free. This is what makes people like Gandhi and MLK so utterly powerful. They looked into the face of the ultimate fear and said, "So what. I'm going to do it anyway."

In closing, Mike, what I most want to communicate to you is that there is still plenty of time for you to step into courage. I know you're working like a dog - you don't have a lot of time or money, like the rest of us poor Americans. Do you understand that whatever future you're trying to protect is more of the same? I urge you to think it through.

The simple act of celebrating freedom by exercising it without apology is one of the strongest actions for Liberty that any individual can take.

This is also the path on the road to courage.