Perspectives: Awareness, the strongest antidote to apathy

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OPINION — The masses were in motion this last weekend, showcasing the latest manifestation of groupthink in action. And while our attention was focused on well-intentioned but poorly informed folks begging for more government control of their lives, something far more disquieting was taking place.

Once again, our Congress passed—and the president signed—an omnibus spending bill that none of them had actually read. Senator Rand Paul was the only exception, although he had precious little time to attempt to read the bill before voting.

It’s bad enough that Congress passed a 2000-plus page piece of legislation without thoroughly understanding and vetting what is within.

What’s worse is the fact that leaders from both parties remain committed to an orgy of uncontrolled spending and most Americans seem willing to go along with it. This lack of awareness, more than anything, seems to indicate that a majority of citizens are okay with giving our elected leaders free rein to do as they wish.

Historically, that has proven to be a very bad idea.

We tend to forget that other great civilizations have risen and fallen over time, generally by making the same types of mistakes. These blunders include widespread apathy and an unwillingness to understand and live up to the truths that had made them great.

Scottish historian Alexander Tytler is credited with a couple of observations that seem well-suited to our time.

Tytler described how many of the ancient citizens of Athens transitioned from authentic liberty to enslavement:

They were perpetually divided into factions, which servilely ranked themselves under the banners of the contending demagogues; and these maintained their influence over their partisans by the most shameful corruption and bribery, of which the means were supplied alone by the plunder of the public money.

It’s not hard to see how such a description could easily be describing our own politicians.

Another observation that is often attributed to Tytler but also to Henning W. Prentiss Jr., is what’s referred to as “The Tytler Cycle.”

This cycle describes how a nation’s people tend to follow a predictable pattern that moves from great spiritual faith to courage. This, in turn leads to freedom, which leads to abundance. From abundance they move towards selfishness, then to complacency and apathy. After apathy comes dependence and, finally, captivity.

Regardless of who first noted this national life cycle, the pattern appears to be valid and can be seen clearly in our time.

The founding of this nation was driven by a dynamic of great spiritual faith which provided the necessary courage to claim and fight for our independence. A marvelous book on the faith of the founders is “Christianity and the Constitution” by John Eidsmoe.

In the subsequent generations following the founding, abundance has been a hallmark of American life. Unfortunately, we are not immune to the same aspects of human nature that lead civilizations into decline.

The vices of selfishness, complacency and apathy have all been politicized and used to create short-sighted constituencies who demand government control over others as a way to avoid personal responsibility. Dependency upon government subsidies and favors has created what we refer to as “entitlements”—a perfect representation of the childish mindset taking hold today.

Our captivity may not be absolute, at this point, but the tools are in place for turnkey tyranny when the wrong person assumes power. Freedom has been in eclipse for many generations now and even those who sense that something is wrong are prone to denial.

The antidote that will place us back on the positive side of this cycle starts with awareness.

This means being willing to individually learn and apply the principles and practices of liberty instead of chanting in unison with the masses.

Decades of compulsory indoctrination have, at last, produced a generation that actively agitates for its own subjugation. Orwell’s “two minutes hate” from his novel “1984” has nothing on the chanting idolatry of state force taking hold in our day.

During times of great spiritual faith, courage and authentic freedom, people tend to focus on principles rather than issues. Issues, like fads, tend to come and go but principles are those bedrock truths that provide a solid foundation beneath our feet.

This is one of the key differences between the masses, who seek instant short term gratification—at any cost, and the more principled approach of the statesman who carefully weighs both the seen and unseen consequences.

The founders of this nation weren’t part of a mass movement. They were a principled minority that was keenly aware of moral truth and who chose to apply it, even when it was costly to do so. Knowing what they stood for allowed them to defend reason against irrationality, liberty against authority and individuality against tribal collectivism.

Their willingness to break with the apathy of the masses was the catalyst that set the wheels in motion. The sooner we make this connection, the sooner we’ll discover the necessary spiritual strength and courage to leave our own captivity.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • No Filter March 26, 2018 at 9:15 am

    A conservative opinion writer who is blaming the large spending bill on the minority party but, the fact is that his “conservative christian” party passed it. Sounds like he is running out of things to blame on the democrats. Everything you complained about could be changed by your party that has control of the entire government right now, but they keep trying to put the square peg in a round hole. Keep clinging to your bible Bryan, you may need it to keep yourself warm in your dire world that you are painting in this piece of garbage you call journalism.

  • Sparky March 26, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Interesting read and point of view.

  • bikeandfish March 26, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Same strategy each week and the same inherent weaknesses. I’m not sure history fits into the box Hyde is trying to cram it into.

    First, our nation has always been about balancing individual liberty with communal needs/good. Our “founders” were a group of white men with diversely thoughts on liberty, government and religion. Ideologues on both sides love to narrow history down to some simple seed of wisdom but that tree will not grow. The fact is our nation has always had “factions” fighting over the ever changing liberty v community balance. Its a dynamic issue not static.

    Pundits like Hyde define entitlements in the negative than weaponize them against citizens. It’s not childish to expect the government to manage money we paid in with professionalism. Hyde would be wise to remember we have entitlements like social security because of hideous conditions of the past that happened because of large scale social conditions out of control of the average citizen.

    Issues are based on principles no matter how much Hyde tries to malign them. I’m not convinced gun control will be an effective option and balance but its an issue/cause based on sincere principles. And that’s the key: if your issues align with Hyde’s ideology than they are principles if not then they are harangued as mere issues.

    Hyde talks about courage but lacks it in his writing. Courage is not about simply portraying your ideas with conviction. Its also presenting it with respect to truth and nuance even when that means recognizing the courage and principles of others who you disagree with. Hyde’s essays are filled with the opposite; they exhibit a type of cowardice defined by petty tools of ideology. Hyde has every right to present his worldview with conviction but that is not the same as constantly demeaning anyone who has a different take in American life and history. Common sense and rationality come with expectations that Hyde readily ignores.

    • homer498 March 26, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      Very well said bikeandfish. It is people who are as critical with thought as you that we need more of. I could not have said it as well myself. Very few of us could, and even less would. I have always considered Bryan to be Art Bell type entertainment. He panders to a much more specific audience, but there is always a “Chicken Little” overriding theme. I’ve listened to him for years, and was even interviewed by his old partner in crime in “The last days of 1999” pun intended, for the AM radio show. I was in my last year as an IT student, and IT support specialist working for the University. It was an interview about the Y2K bug issue of course. At the time the radio show was being run out of a dilapidated old “pink” mobile home out in the west desert off highway 56. Talk about your “end of days setup.” I knew instantly where that mindset came from. I think there are two kinds of listeners of “opinion” shows like these: People who understand it to be entertainment such as you and I: And people who embrace “Hillbilly” ideologies that take pride in being retarded and regressive minimalist ding-a-lings. Everyone has a relative who constantly preachers about “The Old Days” while sitting in their new Lazyboy compliments of their disability checks! It’s no coincidence the same people call in every day.

      • homer498 March 26, 2018 at 9:05 pm

        I apologize if I was a little bitter, or mean sounding in my 1st post. In hindsight it was unnecessarily critical, and somewhat rude, and for that I do apologize. I have always considered Bryan to be a genuinely good person and friend, and I have enjoyed listening to the radio shows for the last 20yrs. I hope to be listening for another 20yrs as well. I might have coined the term “WWF Wrestling for the mind” to describe the shows, but I do genuinely find the shows fascinating, educating, and with a great range of topics that no one else would even contemplate talking. That can only be attributed to the host(s) that will “roll the dice” weekly and talk about time travel, NDE’s, Philosophies, Area 51, classified weapons systems, and all sorts of cool “career stalling” stuff. We spend so much time bashing his unique opinions & perspectives, we forget to step back occasionally, (speaking only of myself) and be thankful he is doing this at all. Well done Bryan! Scott

        • bikeandfish March 27, 2018 at 12:39 am

          I get the jist even if your first post was a little harsh. I just think he does his ideas and values a disservice by constantly insulting and demeaning large swaths of our country. His writing would be higher quality and more compelling, assuming he truly cares about logic and common sense, without resorting to such petty rhetoric. I know we can talk about gun violence, especially that being targeted on schools, without demeaning these activists and students. There is an understandable and historic tension between liberty and “common good” in our country but this harsh binary ideology he perpetuates (my side right, the other wrong and ignorant) is ironically perpetuates domination itself. His constant ad hominems work by assaulting the person instead of truly engaging the idea.

  • No Filter March 26, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Mr. Hyde please leave your christian beliefs out of our government. Not all the founding fathers agreed with your biased opinion. John Adams said “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Also Thomas Jefferson fought to keep god out of our declaration of independence, but settled for the word creator as seen here, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is only in recent history that your christian beliefs have pushed their way into the U.S. Government. Our country is not the United States of Christianity, its the United States of America and all citizens are equal, christian, Islamic, atheist, Jewish, and so on. Our founding fathers knew this and it is evident in the laws they helped to create. So keep your religion to yourself when discussing politics. If you want to talk religion there are hundreds of churches that you can do that in Washington County. Religion has no place in the government. I wont infringe on your right to practice your religion in your home or church, but I will infringe on you pushing your religious agenda into our state and local governments. Your quoted book has more holes in it than the bible, maybe you should find better sources.

  • KarenS March 26, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Mr. Hyde writes yet another condescending opinion piece when he refers to citizens as the “masses”. He should have taken the time to listen to the young people who spoke eloquently and clearly about their lives this weekend. There were hundreds of thousands of them along with parents, grandparents, and siblings. It was hardly “group think” yet Mr. Hyde is dismissive of them and their ideas. It is Mr. Hyde who needs to examine his own “childish mindset”.

  • comments March 26, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    It isn’t all “chickenlittling” and fearmongering. A lot of you people are naive to how tyrannical parts of the gov’t actually are. A lot of you thrive on wallowing in your willful ignorance. I disagree w/ a lot of what hyde puts out, but i think the he’s a guy w/ good intentions. He’s not a professional writer, IMO. And he is by no means a journalist, and he never claimed to be.

    • bikeandfish March 27, 2018 at 12:31 am

      He has been employed in communication for a while now. He a regular columnist for this site. I think both of those come with expectations.

      My criticism of his writings is about ideas as I can’t predict much about character nor do I intentionally try to.

      Criticizing the government is fine. It makes mistakes, sometimes honestly sometimes egregiously, that are fair game. The problem is when those are over-generalized or presented in hyperbolic fashion. Hyde seems to deal in the language of libertarian fanaticism instead of measured, reasonable dialog and common sense. I find that a shame as there are fundamental ideas he orbits but never seems to deal with in nuanced manners that are truly compelling. I am all for listening and being informed by libertarian beliefs but their substance and presentation matter.

      To be honest, I think many of our national pundits are struggling right now. Hyde isn’t alone there. But he self-advertises certain standards that are fair to analyze him on. And often the glaring irony and hypocrisy of his style in contrasted within his own essays. (Once again, that’s not a judgement on who he is but an analysis of his writing here; he is likely a “good guy” as many say as I assume most people are trying their best but that does not matter in public debate about ideas).

      • comments March 27, 2018 at 12:23 pm

        Well bike, you should write in a letter and see if they’ll publish it. I’ve seen them publish like 100 letters of some clown named craig davis, and that guy is just a terrible writer. We don’t even have to know its from bikefish. It’s easy to forget, but hyde and kociela are first and foremost entertainers, so its best to take neither of them too seriously.

        • bikeandfish March 27, 2018 at 2:14 pm

          Sadly, there aren’t too many columnist that I take seriously any more. Sadly because our country needs more writers challenging us more than ever. I’ve come to the conclusion that these writers are most likely caring people who are trying to present an honest POV but they are often chosen because they represent caricatures of the political scene. I think that has become the strategy of opinion writers and talking heads on many local newspapers, radio stations and cable news networks. With 350-ish million citizens these networks choose the voices that are saturated with overly simplified opinions who readily engage in fallacies, especially confirmation bias. And I don’t think our country has taken up the mantle of media literacy enough to remotely keep up with the technology that saturates our lives with their opinions, which are often littered with hateful cliches.

          I for one would appreciate a voice that speaks about their view with respect to other’s and also admits the inherent weaknesses of their approach. Imagine if Hyde talked about the benefits of liberty without constantly demeaning activists; imagine if Ed presented his progressive view without constantly referring to those he disagrees with as rednecks and other mud slinging stereotypes? That approach would respect the audience’s ability to truly think critically for themselves. Instead we get hit over the head each with the hammer of ideology.

          • comments March 27, 2018 at 6:58 pm

            Yeah, it’s all true. Hyde and Kocelia have been writing their weekly columns for a very very long time for stgnews. I sometimes have wondered if they shouldn’t try to recruit some writers that will bring a fresh perspective–maybe add a woman writer into the mix…

  • GrandmaB March 26, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    “The masses were in motion this last weekend, showcasing the latest manifestation of groupthink in action. And while our attention was focused on well-intentioned but poorly informed folks begging for more government control of their lives, something far more disquieting was taking place.”

    This caught my attention and never really let go. To say this about kids who had just had someone walk into their school and start shooting at them is dispicable, it is evil. I guarantee this Mr. Hyde has never been shot at. And I guarantee he has no idea what kind of terror that engenders. What a sad little, evil man.

    The fact that the budget is what had his attention instead of our children dying speaks volumes about what is important. Maybe if one of the victims is a child of his, or a family member, he won’t be so cavalier about their deaths.

    But, back to that horrific budget. The one that continues to fund medicare and social security. The one that takes care of our people. People who worked all of their lives, every day, day in and day out. And are dependent on the safety net smarter men that this Mr. Hyde will every be felt it necessary to create. I don’t recall what his diatribe about the trillion dollar tax cut for the very richest of this country was all about. Oh, wait, there wasn’t one.

  • jaltair March 27, 2018 at 12:41 am

    Your opinion is an opinion held by many and was an interesting read. I especially liked, “Dependency upon government subsidies and favors has created what we refer to as “entitlements”—a perfect representation of the childish mindset taking hold today.”

    Many people are too ready to give up their rights endowed by our Creator. There needs to be more emphasis put on civics in high school, so that children understand the basic Constitution and why the Bill of Rights was added.

    There is no argument the children from the high school in Florida that was targeted by the shooter was one of the most tragic and horrific events in recent times. It’s important that the children are allowed to express their grief and naive opinions. There was a lot of emotional narratives expressed.

    Laws can’t form from emotion, they form through discussion and understanding of the Constitution and of individual rights and how those intersect with greater government control of more laws.

    My greatest takeaway from the event this weekend was how sad it was that the Progressive movement in this country used and helped to fund the children who came as victims of these deplorable crimes. The whole walk/rally was staged by big funders to arouse emotional reactions. How sad.

    • comments March 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm

      Many laws have been formed as the result of mass emotional hysteria. That’s exactly what these brainwashed teenies and their professional, paid protest organizers are aiming for.

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