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Bread and Circuses

Sheridan Taylor

In which our hero points out the divisiveness of our culture and how it breeds mental illness.

I try to help other humans. I do all I can to help those I can. However, that said, I fear humans in large numbers. I fear no single cow, but I get the fuck out of the way of a stampede. That’s really dangerous.

The more humans involved, the less independent thought. The less people think, the more prone to fear they become. Stupid and scared people are dangerous. The in-crowd becomes a mob in an instant, and scared mobs will burn down their own village.

When scared enough, humans will demand tyranny because it provides the illusion of safety. Our leaders aren’t those most capable of guiding a nation, they’re the winners of a popularity contest. Current times prove how frightened people not only demand to be ruled, they demand the power to rule others.

The Nazis, the Bolsheviks, the Viet Cong… these and so many others throughout history created fear in the masses to gain power. The Nazis, Mao, Pol Pot… these and so many others throughout history used division and fear to hold power. Today, world governments do the same.

Historically, banishment was the greatest punishment a tribe could inflict. Today, we do it with this vile and repugnant cancel culture. Nothing affects humans as intensely as judgment and ostracism. Wars prove humans fear death less than the opinion of others. Soldiers march off to death to be called heroes by the same humans who betray those sacrifices.

Folks would rather be popular than right. Very few people are okay with being in the minority if they’re in the right. Instead, we’re ruled by insecurity and hide in numbers. It’s so powerful, we equate being in the majority with being right. Most folks don’t care about doing the right thing, but we care very much about others thinking we’re doing the right thing.

A drunk WWII veteran once grabbed my wrist and said forcefully, with tears in his eyes and beer on his breath, “think before you move.” I say the same thing to you. He meant under fire. I mean throughout your life. Think before you move. Ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing or the popular thing. Ask yourself if what you’re about to do is good, or good for you.

Humans are easily programmed if we’re frightened enough. We can be conditioned to be self-harming, rather than self-affirming. It’s easier and quicker the more fear is inflicted. We can condition humans to sacrifice for liberty and justice. Fear can condition humans to throw away liberty and justice. And it only takes a little propaganda and lies.

Propaganda works better today than ever before. Never have we had so much access to information. Google Scholar probably has the entire accumulated knowledge of humanity. And we’re still no smarter, more educated, or wiser. We’d rather believe social media, or blatant lies from the mainstream media controlled by political parties, than seek knowledge from the same internet we’re being spoon-fed lies on.

Why? Because social media harnesses the power of judgment. The internet allows huge numbers of people to voice unfounded opinions behind the curtain of anonymity. It’s a whole buncha people competing for popularity, using the threat of banishment, and becoming ever more cruel because they face no repercussions for cruelty.

If The Great Toilet Paper Drought of ’19 taught us anything, it’s easier to get us to believe a lie than get us to believe we’ve been lied to. Once we buy a lie, we’re invested, or admit we were fooled, and insecurity won’t allow that. Once we form an opinion from sound-bites, headlines, and social media, we won’t be challenged. We’ll fight to the death to defend a wrong idea rather than admit we’re wrong.

If we can keep folks scared, we can do anything. If we convince them to surrender civil rights for safety, people demand we take their freedom away. Then, all we have to do is strip away more rights while increasingly distracting them with nonsensical fears.

Panem et circenses. Juvenal was spot on. We keep entire nations passive while removing freedom by giving them some of their own tax money back and using media to lie and entertain. After that, folks will not only refuse to defend their rights, they’ll attack anyone who tries.

Part of creating fear is to demonize someone. The Nazis used Jews. The communists used rich people. It’s why everything’s politicised by the media, the government, and keyboard warriors. We tell ourselves our political party/ideology acts for “the common good.” Even vocal critics of a government believe their government acts for “the common good.” Political corruption and online bullying create an atmosphere that fosters anxiety and depression. Social media feeds insecurity and self-judgment.

We fight when we could accomplish things by talking. We’re making ourselves and each other more ill all the time. We can change it. The more emotionally healthy we get, the more positively we impact everyone else. Become the person you want to be, and make everything better for everyone everywhere.