Saturday, August 30, 2008

Don't Be Afraid

David Lindorff from CommonDreams: "The Land of the Silent and the Home of the Fearful"

It's about not worrying about the consequences of speaking out:

There is a remarkable and palpable fear abroad in this land-not a fear of terrorism, but a fear of speaking up, a fear of being labeled as "different" or as a "troublemaker."

People will lean over and whisper their opinions, if they think they are anti-Establishment, as though someone might be listening. People write me after some of my columns run, praising me for my "courage," though why it should be perceived as requiring courage to merely write something in America is beyond me.

The worst thing is that every time someone says she or he is afraid, or acts afraid to speak or write what she or he is thinking, five more acquaintances become equally scared and silenced.

The corollary, though, is that each time someone forgets or ignores or rejects that fear, five people gain courage the do the same thing.

But I especially like this last bit:

If you want to see where we're headed here in America, check out the workplace. There, we Americans have, through years of collective cowardice and unwillingness to stand together in organized labor unions, allowed our constitutional freedoms to be almost completely erased. Today, an American workplace is more akin to a police state than to a democratic society. Say what you're thinking on the job, and you're liable to lose it. Wear a shirt that says something the boss disagrees with, and you either remove that shirt or you are unemployed. Even that final refuge of free speech, the bumper sticker, can get workers in trouble if the wrong one shows up in the company parking lot. That loss of will and of freedom has in no small way contributed to the loss of jobs and the decline in living standards of American workers.

Indeed. If we spend most of our waking lives in servitude, how can we develop the desire to govern ourselves?

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