“There are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy. ‘With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.’ Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning: the first time any man‘s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.”
– Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 4, Episode 21, “The Drumhead”
When Picard says this, he is quoting the father of the very same woman who is currently engaging in a witch hunt. She has been present for the discovery of a spy amongst the ranks of a ship’s loyal crew members, and she has used lies, half-truths, and insinuations to create a climate of fear that she might feed upon it and exalt herself. She is stepping on the freedoms of others within her own nation, and in so doing she is damaging its very spirit, chaining and choking it from within.
I try to keep politics off my blog, for numerous reasons, especially that I might keep this, my personal haven, free of the vitriol that I so often find everywhere around me. This, however, is something that I simply must say.
All that is needed for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, and it is short-sighted to the point of practical suicide to actually cheer when another man’s freedom, his rights, are denied him. Chains of metal are more obvious, heavy on the body and visible as they are, but chains of censorship are no less binding. Walls of stone and bars of steel may cage the body, but they are no more restricting and suffocating than barriers of what one is allowed to think, what questions one is allowed to ask, what hopes and desires one is allowed to have. The horrors which inhumane deviants inflict upon the innocent are too obscene to describe here, but it is every bit as horrific, even more so, when “normal” people and “legitimate” authorities visit similar cruelties on those who do not conform to their dictates, as the very bonds which were built for mutual protection – that of community and government – turn upon those who are most in need of protection.
To allow any of these, much less celebrate them, is to eagerly sign up and wait for those chains to be placed on oneself, for those prisons to be filled by oneself, for those vile deeds to be visited on oneself, and even to look forward to the experience. It is utterly warped and perverse.
And we have seen it countless times, both in fiction and in reality.
The first man enslaved in England’s American colonies was owned by a black man. The man’s indentured servant went to court to try and obtain his due freedom, but, for whatever reason, the court ruled that the indentured man could be kept indefinitely. That single instance paved the way for one of the grossest and most vile evils ever committed in human history, which took decades and one of the bloodiest wars in history to finally purge out of America. And that still left decades of racial prejudice and discrimination to clean up. And that has since been revived in the flames of hatred and ignorance. We are still dealing with the fallout from one man’s freedom being denied centuries ago, and it is a bloody mess.
The first time a Nazi was allowed to blame a Jew, to take their guns, to take what belonged to them, thus followed the Holocaust. The first time a communist was allowed to censor a speech or remove a political rival or make someone disappear, thus follows all the atrocities committed in the name of socialism. The first time the fear of Soviet Russia drove Americans to turn on their neighbors, thus began the witch hunts of the Red Scare. The first time a corrupt senator was allowed to thrive in the Senate of ancient Rome, thus ended the Republic and rose an empire that was doomed to decay and fall, over and over. The first time one man was able to make another man bow to him… well, thus followed every tyrant.
Today, there are countless terrible things which all have “first times” to precede them. The first time guns were taken from the law-abiding, thus follows every single shooting spree, and every military massacre of unarmed civilians. The first time the value of a human life was diminished, thus follows godless acts by people who see no wrong in what they are doing. The first time the roles of mother and father were reduced, thus follows countless broken families. The first time an act of infidelity was praised, thus follows an entire way of thinking that promotes the short-sighted pursuit of pleasure and denies personal responsibility, and affection, and loyalty. The first human trafficked… and the first man who looked the other way when they might have stopped it instead.
The first church gathering restricted. The first restaurant shut down. The first pastor assaulted. The first murdering BLM mob. the first politically-motivated “cancelation.” The first bogus lawsuit against a baker of cakes. The first murder of black and white cops together. The first terror attack excused because of the religion of the terrorists.
The first mask worn, the first day of a “two-week shutdown,” the first social distancing… well, just take a look around.
The first time someone good allows something bad, evil rises and destruction follows.
There is, however, an upside to this.
The first chain we allow may bind us all, but the first chain we discard frees us all, too.
The first slave rescued by what became an underground railroad. The first brave white man who stood alongside a black man, even if it was to be hanged. The first march of black and white people together, in peace and equality. The first speech given in spite of fear of censorship. The first stand taken for freedom. The first shot fired in a war for liberty. The first words of negotiation spoken to end a war. The first gun retained instead of forfeited to gun control. The first embrace given to a fellow human being as they suffer. The first abandoned child adopted. The first time one reaches out to reestablish contact with a loved one. The first time we speak up instead of keeping our heads down. The first time we bridge a gap, or forgive a grudge. The first time we choose what is right.
The first ember of light in the dark, illuminates us all in beautiful radiance.
The first crack in one link breaks the entire chain.
Pingback: Sunday’s Wisdom #398: | Merlin's Musings