Most of us were acquainted with the boogeyman as children. He was lurking under our bed, in our closets, behind the fence, or in a tree in the backyard. He was ready to take us as soon as our guard was down. He was terrifying, always keeping me looking over my shoulder. My brothers loved to tease me with the boogeyman.
Who was this boogeyman that would terrorize me without ever showing himself? One day I realized that the boogeyman was in my head. It was a delusion put there by my brothers, and everyone else who went along with it. I was afraid of a delusion. It kept me awake at night, and kept me on guard when walking alone on dark evenings.
Fear can be very consuming, controlling and motivating. The boogeyman can take on many forms. Our common sense tells us there is no such boogeyman. We have never seen him, but as it is reinforced over and over soon we begin to question ourselves. We entertain the thought that perhaps there is a boogeyman and we should take steps to prevent an encounter with him. Our fear becomes irrational. It was a fear planted in our minds by others, reinforced and nurtured until it became very real to us. Of course, we abandon such nonsense as we mature and we realize our imagination got the best of an impressionable young child. What silliness! We do not believe in boogeymen anymore.
Or do we?
Growing up, I never wore a bike helmet, knee pads, or seat belt. I stood up in the seat in the car and sometimes sat on my mother’s lap behind the steering the wheel. Rides in the back of the pick up truck were especially fun. I took day long hikes with no way to be reached or call for help if I needed to. I walked to my friend’s house in the country alone. I rode my bike everywhere: neighborhoods, streets, and country paths. By today’s standards it was a little risky.
Yes, it seems there is more danger to be aware of these days. We warn our kids about stranger danger, and wearing protective gear, and buckling up lest they are ejected from the car. Sure, some practices are good common sense. But there is an air of danger in almost every aspect of our lives these days. Danger lurks at school, at home, in the street, at the movies, at the airports, subways, buses, you name it.
Kids today don’t know any different. They are accustomed to body scans, pat downs, lock downs, threat levels, armored cops, and protective gear. They have not witnessed, as I have, the transformation into a fear based society. They were born into it. And perhaps this is one of the challenges in getting young people to see the hijacking of freedoms I have witnessed. They never experienced them to begin with. They are told over and over that the danger exists and that the state protects them at the cost of basic freedoms.
It gets easier to do as our kids are put through the system. The system was created by the state and therefore it will attempt to program all involved to believe the state is the great protector, educator, and authority on just about everything. Once our kids are in the ‘care’ of the system, they are considered state property. How many times have we seen reports of parents’ rights trumped by the school? Too many. Over time, this becomes more acceptable. Our kids are fed through the machine, and emerge products of it, often not questioning those they perceive to have authority over them. When they do challenge authority, the consequences leave many ostracized, outcast and mocked.
Parents are often supportive of the authority as well, passing off responsibility to ‘those in charge’. After all, most of them have been fed through the same system, like I was. This creates another challenge to equipping their kids with the critical thinking skills and awareness to realize that just because authority says it, does it, promotes it, does not make it right or moral.
When a ‘higher’ authority claims that illegal search and seizure, no knock raids, and spying are for their own good, for their safety and security, they accept it without question. It keeps them from bad guys. These people are just ‘doing their job’. (If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.)
This submission to and acceptance of a perceived authority (the state) that claims a higher right to their lives is more dangerous than the state itself. It is the perception that one group of people should rule over another.
Laws should protect the rights of the individual, not infringe upon them. There would be very few laws if that was the practice and law makers would discover they are not so needed. Instead, there is a growing entity that takes a little more of our freedom with each new law written and agency created. They are diabolical in their tactics by using fear (the boogeyman) to do so. They convince us they are necessary. They convince us that pat downs are keeping us safe and that rummaging through our personal property is preventing terrorists attacks. They tell us that brandishing pop tart guns in school is a violent act.
I want my child to know that no one has a higher claim to his life. No one has the right to lay their hands on him-not teacher, cop, nurse, nobody, without his consent. He cannot be forced into doing anything that goes against his conscience. He needs to be reminded that rights are not ‘granted’ to us by another group of people. He needs to be shown what true philanthropy is versus the false philanthropy the state commits. He must be empowered as an individual. Freedom does not exist in groups until it is realized by the individual. There are no ‘group’ rights without the individual rights.
My child needs to realize that the boogeyman is in his head. The real boogeyman is not the state but rather the belief in its authority and the belief that it can force us to participate in and comply with things that go against our conscience. As I write this, my news feed is flooded with stories of abuse and murder by cops. These people who are ‘just doing their jobs’ do so with the belief that they have the right to aggress upon others. A majority of the people believe it too. Badge or not, these acts are immoral and evil.
My child needs to be equipped with the tools to thwart this boogeyman and it may mean drifting out of our comfort zone, thinking outside of the box, and enduring some judgment. Generations always want something better for the next generation. I want a freer world for my child, not one where freedoms are exchanged for a false sense of security provided by an immoral entity nor where the rights of some trump the rights of others in the name of ‘just doing their job and keeping us safe’. I want him to have the courage to face the boogeyman. I want him to exercise his rights even if it means stirring the pot and going against the grain. It will take courage and that courage must be modeled by me as well. I need the courage to practice my philosophy and pass it on to my son. I need to be the counter to the indoctrination that consumes so many of us now.
I am amazed at the people I meet who accept the state and all its programs for ‘security and safety’ including spying. The ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ mentality (as if the right to our privacy is somehow hiding something from the authorities who believe they have some kind of right to it), is very dangerous. Yet the mainstream are programmed to accept this. Young people seem apathetic. Maybe it is just their age. Youngsters don’t want to think about such things. Youth is a time to be carefree and have fun. That may be the case for most. I think a lot of it has to do with being born into an ever increasing police, nanny, everything-will-be done-for-you, state. For those of us from the no-bike-helmet era who have witnessed the transformation, it is easier to see, even if it is retrospective, we remember what was.
Maybe I should not be surprised. I was programmed too and I apathetically accepted the the seizure of freedoms. I believed things would improve eventually, that ‘others’ would fix it. I did not fully understand what liberty was. It was not something discussed in my home growing up, as I am sure it isn’t or wasn’t in most. Our family lives by this philosophy now. My child is immersed in it, he sees the injustice of an ever-increasing liberty sucking vacuum based on an illegitimate belief in an authority (the state). There is no boogeyman, except in our minds. I believe the cure for the boogeyman syndrome is embracing the philosophy of liberty. It has been buried under a false belief. Learn it, teach it, spread it, we need this, our kids need this, everyone needs this. This is the seed that should be nurtured, the flame that needs fanned…or perhaps the match that needs lit.
Great post, Lisa! As a person of your generation, I completely agree with your observations.
This post reminds me of a thought-provoking book that explores the relationship between adequate exposure to (real) nature and a healthy childhood.