In the wake of the New Zealand mosque massacre, I’ve been thinking about how these things repeatedly play out in the same sad way.
I’ve been thinking about what transforms people from an atomized collection of terrified individuals into people who realize that they have power over the moment — that they don’t have to cower and wait for some authority to decide who lives or dies.
Look at the sea change that happened after 9/11, especially when the events on United Flight 93 became clear.
When people on that flight learned what was really happening, “just wait it out until the authorities intervene” became LET’S ROLL. And you’ve probably heard of several incidents where people who had internalized that example saved hundreds of lives.
We see it time and time again: Government authorities cannot and will not protect you. When they told you they could keep you safe, that their new laws would ensure this kind of tragedy never happened again, THEY LIED. And they do it over and over again.
Now they’re all saying they can’t protect us unless we give up one more bit of freedom, hand over this little bit of personal property, put yet more power in their hands. THEY LIE. The only truth in the foregoing exists before the word unless.
They can’t keep everyone safe. They won’t. They aren’t. They never will. It ought to be obvious by now.
We have to rescue ourselves.
That realization needs to permeate society and extend to the rest of our lives, too, not just the lightning-strike rarity of in extremis moments.
Anyone, any system that seeks to take away what you treasure (however small) and would restrict your ability to defend yourself is your enemy. And when people voluntarily act together, they’re more powerful than any evildoer or coercive institution.
What if that human-shaped bag of excrement in New Zealand had faced dozens — or even merely a handful — of people who alloyed fear with righteous anger and said together, “Evil will not get what it wants while we still breathe”?
There were only two who tried, each one utterly alone. One of them actuallysucceeded, against all odds.
What if there were more?