Escape the Oppression; Love Your Neighbor

Love Your Neighbor (Los Angeles Times)

For eighteen years, I lived under the weight of an authoritarian regime. I don’t have PTSD in the aftermath, but I admit, some of my habits and thought processes have been influenced by those years of sorrow. Birdie and Mike were the ones in charge in those days; Mike was the ‘enforcer’ and Birdie stood watch and recorded mistakes and misdeeds. Get in trouble with Birdie and Mike would step in and exact punishment. Punishment included anything from hard labor details to whippings with a heavy leather belt. It was horrible!

Like I said, there is no PTSD. But I notice I occasionally fall into moments of exuberant behavior. For example, with great gusto, sometimes for breakfast I’ll cut a giant slice of pie, scoop a load of ice cream on top and wash it down with a chocolate-banana milkshake. Then I’ll toss my dishes in the sink with no intention of washing them until I dang-well feel like it! The other day, I dropped a kernel of popcorn on the floor and let it lay there untouched for over two hours! Sometimes, for no reason at all, I will leave the shovel laying in the yard. Other times, I’ll just throw the rake down and walk off. One time, I even left a wrench laying in the driveway – just because I could! Sometimes in the summer I look out the window at the tall grass and say to myself, “Nope, not going to mow today!” Sometimes in the winter, I shake my fist at the snow falling from the sky and curse with impunity!

Anyone who tells you that adulting his hard and sad obviously hasn’t allowed themselves to be mentally set free from the clutches of his authoritarian upbringing. Live FREE and HAPPY, I say!

Written by Jeff Hicks

This hyperbole was taken from a social media post parodying our current global situation. With the pandemic in full swing, adults the world over are being held captive by strict community measures on one level or another. Many of them have decried the increased sanctions stifling their movements and social lives and called them authoritarian. Some have called for rebellion and some have already rioted and protested. Protesting is a right, especially if one feels oppressed in a free country. Of course, we know that protests also occur in countries led by authoritarian regimes, but those actions typically don’t last long, and the protesters are invariably hustled off to jail with little fanfare.

The phenomenon I want to pinpoint in this post is fascinating to me – the idea of freedom placed on the backdrop of responsibility that freedom loving people have to one another.

We can stipulate that freedom likely means different things to different people, nations, or cultures. The freedom I am referring to is the act to do as one wishes within the confines of community, state, and national parameters. Some seek ‘total freedom!’ Actually, total freedom is a misnomer and does not exist in any society. If you think you have total freedom, punch someone in the neck for no reason or build a cardboard hut in an upper-crust neighborhood. It will be seconds before the authorities arrive! We are at the mercy of regulations and laws that literally limit our freedom in the land of the free, home of the brave. But the country is still considered ‘free’ to all people who agree to live in harmony as a community.

Mandates to wear masks has been met with some derision. Not by everyone, just a few who see the mandate as a loss of freedom. One such person was heard to cry, “I feel the walls closing in on me! I’m literally suffocating.” I glanced back and felt sorry for that person; her suffering was obviously intense.

Personal acts that influence and affect others are lost on those masses who bark at the mask mandates or any other regulations that limit social freedoms during the COVID pandemic. In their minds, those people must see no connection between themselves and others, or they simply don’t care about others. They are islands. Their sense of community is nowhere to be found, apparently. Their view perhaps is ‘live and let die.’

Imagine an ideal society where folks’ primary concern is for the common good. Imagine a utopia where folks don’t have to be told to wear a mask during a pandemic; they already have one on because they realize it’s the least they can do to protect those at risk – the elderly and infirm.

Organized religion, I heard one time, was a good place where folks could be reminded to practice charity and love for their fellow humans. I think there’s merit in that assumption, but I admit love and goodwill goes far beyond religious practice. In a country that still hails itself as “Christian” or at least claims religiosity on some level, it seems charity has gotten out-of-style for some practioners. People should not need a pastor or priest to remind them to look out for the welfare of others. I submit natural laws that forbid killing, lying, and stealing also include ‘love your neighbor.’    

Published by Jeff Hicks

I am a podcaster and author working and living in the Western United States.

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