I will leave the legal issues regarding Edward Snowden’s release of national security information to the State Department, the various Federal Attorneys working on the case, and the hotly debated public opinion. I’m sure the emotional angst and legal debate will go on for years.
What I do know is that human history is overwhelmingly clear on one important historical reality. Totalitarian dictators, corrupt rulers, and despotic governments have used fear to manipulate mass humanity for thousands of years.
The Power Of Fear
To understand why fear is so powerful when it comes to influencing mass humanity, and that includes you and me, we have to take a closer look at three aspects of human nature.
The first aspect of human nature is our ego’s passionate desire to always feel strong. It achieves this goal by using fear to create a strong emotionally driven sense of self-identity.
For example, “Happy is not as strong an emotion as frightened.” Thus the ego will always unconsciously choose fear over happiness, sadness, loneliness, depression, even lust! Fear offers our ego a much stronger sense of “self” identity than those other emotions.
Think about the average news programs. They are filled with accidents, suicide bombings, public shootings, people dying, examples of human violence, war coverage, and the never ending stories regarding potential health threats. What we are observing is our ego’s never-ending unconsciousness need for the strong self-identity that comes when we are fearful, and of course, an equally strong unconscious ego need for protection from the violence that threatens us.
The second aspect of human nature emerges when our ego thinks we are in danger, or could be in danger; the protection of a controlling, aggressive father, not a warm, nurturing mother.
Rulers understand how easily the frightened human ego can be manipulated, so they create or amplify fear by offering the masses a tangible external threat, and then they become the aggressive, powerful father figure that can offer the masses protection.
The third aspect of human nature that every dictator or ruler in human history has used to control mass humanity is the fact that the human ego loves to project the fears of its false shadow-self onto others. It takes great courage to embrace the fears that dwell in the shadows of our own mind; the courage required to intentionally grow in self-awareness.
As long as the “danger” can be externalized, mass humanity can be manipulated. The aggressive, powerful father figure doesn’t have to take our freedom and autonomy away from us; we will willingly give the powerful father figure our autonomy and freedom in exchange for the “protection” we are being offered.
When It’s Time To Be Wary And Pay Attention
When a government or a ruler drags out “fear” by focusing our attention on the threat posed by a “dangerous enemy”——it’s time for mass humanity to become very, very wary. When our constitutional rights and freedoms are quietly being taken from us, it is time to get paranoid.
Hitler, Mussolini, and every despotic leader or dictator in human history has walked this path to power. Each became the “protector” of the masses. And in every situation, the masses of humanity freely gave away their freedom. They allowed themselves to be manipulated and enslaved by the powerful father figure that would protect them in exchange for their autonomy.
I believe this is what Snowden is trying to warn us about.
Whether or not he is considered a traitor or a hero, he is right about the fine line between freedom and tyranny. We need to be careful not to let the government turn Snowden into one more dangerous, evil, external threat that our government is trying to “protect” us from——and miss the warning Snowden is trying to bring to our attention—–the real threat that fear represents to our freedoms and autonomy as Americans.
So I would caution, that we need be wary of those who would too quickly label Edward Snowden as simply one more dangerous traitor, or evil threat to our nation’s security——one more distracting threat that our government is only trying to protect us from.
Whenever a government or ruler is focusing our attention on external threats, and using our collective ego’s unconscious need to use fear to strengthen our individual and collective sense of self-identity, we need to stay awake and not forget the lessons of history.
We need to remind ourselves that freedom and autonomy are best preserved when we individually, and collectively, accept the responsibility to discover truth for ourselves.
In the words of Mark Twain “In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue, but have taken them at second hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
Like Edward Snowden, Mark Twain was warning us about the real danger to our democracy. How easily we can be mass manipulated by the distracting fears of external threats when we passively give up the responsibility and freedom inherent in a “healthy” democracy——-the ability to discover truth for ourselves!
In time, history will judge Snowden’s fate. In the meantime, when fear prowls the world, we need to be very wary, and more than a little paranoid. Sometimes the threats to our freedom and autonomy from powerful, protective father figures are real.
What are your thoughts? Please comment below.