Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Week 18: Individuals or Masses

Are we, the men and women of this nation, individuals with our own interests, hopes and dreams, or are we collective masses whose interests, hopes and dreams are determined by our gender, the color of our skin, etc.?

One candidate for president tipped his hand in terms of his view on this question, which, by way of example, I shall quote here.

On Aug. 6, former Vice President Joe Biden stated, “By the way, what you all know but most people don't know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things. You go to Florida; you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you're in Arizona. So, it's a very different, a very diverse community.”

Consider this, kind reader, for just a moment. In such consideration, you may, like me, find this presumptuous assertion to be repugnant and to be an affront to individualism and to individual dignity. Because you may have one shade of skin pigment, you are incapable of independent thoughts, hopes and dreams. Because I’m a different shade, I may be capable of greater independent thought than you. And someone who is yet a different shade of skin may be a completely free thinker. Skin color being just one superficial way for free people to be separated from and pitted against one another en masse.

This is precisely the evil belief, based on junk pseudoscience espoused by the eugenics practices of the Nazis and the likes of Margaret Sanger, that has led to the extermination of tens of millions of individual human beings during the past century alone.

Servitude and extermination are actions that may seem far-fetched in this day and age. Some survivors of the Holocaust recalled the same sense in the 1930s and ‘40s that the horrors they would face seemed far-fetched, if not impossible. German culture, after all, was refined and enlightened. Such evil as that visited upon Europe and the whole of humankind, could not have been imagined. It was; it did; and it all began with a twisted belief that ascribed a common set of characteristics to a group of people, much like that described in the quoted above.

Evil begins with an idea. One of the truly evil ideas is that we are not individuals created in the likeness of God. We are, instead, masses to be manipulated for the “common good.” Who, though, decides what that good is? Never has there been, nor ever will there be, the philosopher kings whose judgment is so perfect as to solve all human conditions. We are, therefore, left with the words and deeds – the ideas and actions – of plain old men and women, who are flawed, just like you and me.

History demonstrates, time and time again, that it is a relatively short period of time from idea to action.

Our system of government, brilliantly devised by the Founding Fathers, was designed with the express purpose of protecting the individual from the government and from the tyranny of pure democracy, which is a system that can easily be used to target one group against another. Ours singularly in the annals of political history is the form of government formed to fully appreciate the rights and dignity of each and every individual. Granted, this has been corrupted by power-hungry politicians over time, but this doesn’t mean we should give up on it. We must continue to improve it so that we may pursue that more perfect union.

Biden, as other politicians who express the notion that we are not individuals but masses, often backpedal and explain how we misunderstood what they said. This is disingenuous at best. As you consider candidates at any level, explore who understands you as a free, individual human being and who views you as one of the masses to be glorified or vilified for his or her own benefit.

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