You Can’t Save People From Themselves

This article also available as a blog at: https://anchor.fm/gunthrek/embed/episodes/You-Cant-Save-People-From-Themselves-e16n5ig

We often believe that we have control over our lives. The world has become much smaller and we have developed the ability to manipulate our environment, shape the events of the world and even begin our spread beyond it, out into the inky blackness of outer space. We have risen to heights our ancestors could never have imagined, and it is natural for us to think that as we move further into the future with new technologies and advanced ideas about society that we can exert our power to control our own existence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The problem we run into with such thoughts is that we forget the one thing that has brought us to this point in time in the first place: human nature. How many times have people tried to implement some form of social control only to have it blow up in their face because the people simply couldn’t live with it? No matter how oppressive you become or how much of an iron fist you try to use, at some point people get tired of being forced to live their lives in a way that opposes their nature and violent rebellion inevitably follows. It’s simply human nature.

As smart as we like to think we are, we never seem to learn from the mistakes of the past. Here we are again in the twenty-first century, a significant portion of our population ready to bend their knee to submit to people who claim they know what’s best for us, all the while forgetting how this tired old scheme played out before. One would think with the incredible access to knowledge that we have today that we would see the patterns of the past and stop repeating them, but again that thought completely disregards human nature. We are creatures of habit, and we can’t avoid making old mistakes all over again.

Where does it come from, this inability to gain wisdom from our failures in the past? Arrogance, mostly. Human beings are supremely confident in our own superiority, never questioning the idea that no matter how much everyone else might be lacking, we are somehow better. You can see it anytime you get frustrated with someone over something “stupid” they did to you. Maybe it’s driving down the freeway and they’re just moving to slowly and you can’t understand why; or the cashier couldn’t figure out how to process your return; perhaps your boss tells you to do something in a way you think is inefficient and you can’t figure out why they can’t see it. Whatever the reason, arrogance is the source.

Just about every social problem in our world today comes down to arrogance; the pride in believing that our way is so good that everyone should be doing it like we do. This is why we treat people the way we do, because we can’t understand why they don’t just “get it”. We see them as stupid, sub-human. There is no understanding or analyzation or room for anything outside the specific way we want it to be. It’s the “my way or the highway” view of the world, and you better well comply or else.

What we always fail to understand is that you simply can’t save people from themselves. In our arrogance we will always believe that we know what should be done, no matter how much evidence you try to present. This is why governments of compulsion will always fail, not because they can’t have great ideas, but because there will always be people who disagree and will refuse to live under the thumbs of others. It doesn’t matter that your intentions are good; the simple fact that you want to take away their self-determination is enough to back them into a corner and instigate a fight to the death. The simple truth is that human beings don’t want to be saved; they want to live their own lives.

This is the folly of ideas like communism or socialism, or even any form of global government: the idea that we can all unite under one set of ideals. It simply can’t work that way. There are too many of us with vastly different ideas about what life is supposed to be like. With billions of individual people all wanting different things, how can anyone seriously think they can corral everyone under one banner?

Arrogance, mostly. It all comes back down to that. It is the arrogance of a few against the arrogance of many. We don’t care about your way any more than you care about ours. The only possible result from such grand designs is the collapse of everything you strived to build, not because the idea isn’t good but because human beings won’t suffer being caged forever. They might submit to your will for a while, but eventually the yearning for freedom will overcome the “need” for safety, and the system comes crashing down. It is inevitable.

So what do you do with this knowledge? Nothing, really. We are too arrogant to learn from the past, always believing we’ll be the ones to do it right. No matter how many times we set down the philosophy of individual liberty, some people just won’t get it. It isn’t in our nature to just let people be. We have to meddle, always believing that we know better. The only thing you can do in the face of such blind ambition is to prepare yourself for a fight, standing up for your own arrogant way of viewing the world.

In the end, it always comes down to pride.

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