BC’s Tales of the Pacific | Freedom or slavery?

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“LOVE our leader,” they said.

“But I don’t know him. Who is he? Where is he from? What does he believe?”

“It does not matter. He will lead us to greatness, he will accomplish our aims.”

“Will he accomplish your aims, or will you accomplish his?” I asked.

“It does not matter; they are the same. We and our leader are one white-hot mass of will.” They answered.

“Was that something you decided or was that something you were told, because I find it is difficult to find such agreement among people.”

“It doesn’t matter. We have the same beliefs and goals as he does, so we are one.”

“You mean to say you agree on everything? There is not one matter of disagreement?” I asked.

“Yes, we agree on everything.” They answered.

“Then I wonder how well you truly know him.” I said.

“He told us he is one of us and we believe him.”

“But I have questions.” I said.

“Wear these clothes,” they said.

“But I’m not sure I like those clothes.”

“It doesn’t matter. Everyone else is wearing these clothes. If you want to join, be accepted, be liked, you will dress the way you are told. You will also wear your hair this way and trim your facial hair in just this way. Pay attention to the signals coming from our cultural leaders, the ones who tell us how to dress and how to look.” They said.

“I do not consider them to be cultural leaders, they are just popular. That doesn’t bestow on them the power to tell me how to dress or look.”

“Then you are a hater.”

“I am a hater because I do not follow the cultural leaders?” I asked.

“Yes.” They answered. “If you are not with us, you are against us.”

“I am neither with you nor against you, I simply have questions.” I said.

“Think these thoughts and hold these opinions,” they said.

“But I do not agree with some of those opinions. I want to think my own thoughts. I agree with some of what you say but not everything. I want to reason things out and reach my own conclusions.”

“Then you are a hater. If you do not think what we think, all of it, we will vilify you. We will hate you and convince others to hate you, but it will be you who will be branded the hater.”

“I think people will decide for themselves.” I said.

“When have people ever decided for themselves? They ask someone else what to think and they think it. They rely on someone else to supply their opinions and they hold them as their own. To decide for themselves is chaos and works against the common good.”

“Who decides what the common good is?” I asked

“Our political and cultural leaders. They tell us what our goals are, what our opinions are, and we embrace them as our own. That is the true meaning of loyalty.”

“But I have questions.” I said.

“No! To question is disloyalty.” They shouted. “Do not ask why, just think what we say is appropriate. Like what we like, or we will call you a hater. Hate what we hate, or we will brand you disloyal. Join us or we will say you are the problem. Love our leader or we will hate you. That will be reason enough to hate you, we don’t have to know you at all. Follow us on the path of human freedom. This is freedom!”

“No,” I said. “This is slavery.”

BC Cook, PhD taught history for over 20 years. He lived on Saipan and travels the Pacific but currently lives on the mainland U.S.

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