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March 20, 2017 / Congau

When to Oppose

Freedom of thought is what matters the most. Freedom of speech is a good thing, but most people can live well without having to broadcast their views to the world. Misery, injustice and gross irrationalities should never be accepted and if you are able to state in your own mind that something is wrong, you have already taken a step on the path to freedom.

You may stand up, you may resist, but you don’t always have to throw yourself to the wolves. No one can fight all battles and many potential conflicts are not worth the strain it will cost you and the risk of losing it all. Courage is an admirable virtue, but when it has an unworthy aim, it turns into rashness or plain stupidity.

People who live in a totalitarian state might as well be members of that one party if being outside creates too much trouble. You can give them apparent obedience without giving your heart and mind. If you are forced to do what is immoral in itself, it’s time to oppose by quitting, but until then the practical part of your choice may rightfully prevail.

However, often physical obedience leads to mental obedience and then our own self is at risk. It is easy at first to obey out of convenience and then after a while let the moral senses go dull. That is probably what happens when seemingly ordinary citizens start committing atrocities for totalitarian regimes. Active opposition may have a morally purifying effect and help us stay alert. It can then be a personal struggle for keeping one’s own freedom of thought.

But just being right is not always a reason to oppose. People may need their little harmless illusions, and they are not always better off knowing the harsh realities.

No principle is worth defending for the sake of principle. No fight is justified that can lead to nothing.

Sometimes it’s more important what you think than what you do.

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