Human Nature and the Second Amendment


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alohachris
July 2, 2010, 12:14 PM
I wanted to share this with the hopes that it will serve to clarify and distill the contest we are constantly up against in defending the US Constitution, and particularly, the Second Amendment.

I realize that the article isn't news to many of you who have worked to protect firearm rights over the years, but it opened my eyes to the 'why' of people who seek to ban guns. Pointing out this reasoning to people may serve to open their eyes to what they're really asking for when they want guns banned.


There's something very poisonous to human society and human relations, and that is the fear of freedom, the wish to be slaves, the wish to be told what to do. Just as we all like to think and we live under written documents and proclamations that encourage us to think that is our birthright and our most precious need to be free, to be liberated, to be untrammeled. So we also know that, unfortunately, innate in people is the servile, the desire to be told what to do, the adoration for strong and brutal and cruel leaders, that this other, baser element of the human makeup has to be accounted for and gives us a great deal of trouble, all around the world as we speak.

What I mean about the fear of freedom is this: Nobody, of course, wants to live under a hellish regime of death & starvation, with gulags and such. But they quite like being told what to do. They don't want to be told that the world doesn't owe them anything and that they're on their own -- and they repeatedly vote for parties and leaders who promise to provide everything as long as they'll give up their freedom. Just a little bit of freedom, right now, and in exchange, the leaders will give you more security and more welfare. It always begins this way, with incrementalism. It's a serious temptation and sometimes it takes it's course to an extreme end, such as North Korea. This kind of thinking is implicitly totalitarian.

It's the recognition that "there are no guarantees", that is the beginning of wisdom as well as, I think, the beginning of liberty.

Christopher Hitchens
from a lecture given on August 16, 2007

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Tallinar
July 2, 2010, 12:20 PM
Interesting. At first, I would disagree with the point that men like being told what to do. Human nature is hostile toward any entity that tells them how they must live their lives. "I am master of my life and captain of my own ship." Men are selfish and wretched if left to themselves.

But reading on, I think the speaker isn't just saying that men enjoy being told what to do; period. He's saying men will trade liberty for the promise of ease.

Oh how small a re-sale price we place on the liberty that has been purchased for us!

General Geoff
July 2, 2010, 12:35 PM
Few strive for liberty; most settle for prosperity.

Smokey Joe
July 2, 2010, 12:50 PM
Humans like being told what to do...hmmm...When it comes to the question of how to live their lives, I don't believe so. Most people have very firmly entrenched ideas as to what is right and proper in the way they live their life. Mostly.

However (there is always that darn "however!") let me tell you of one experience I had: It was when I worked in a store; I was just one of several salespeople on duty, and it was a "down time," i.e. no customers to be had, and the sales people just standing around looking @ each other. Now, remember, I was not a "chief," I was just "one of the Indians." I suggested to one clerk that this needed cleaning, and suggested to another one that that display needed straightening, and to a couple others that the entryways could both stand vacuuming. ZOOM! They all took off, glad to have "something to do," and ripped into the tasks with gusto.

When each chore was finished, the people came back to me and said "Now what?" and I made another suggestion, and zoom again, they tackled the new tasks with a will, even less-than-pleasant ones like scrubbing the restrooms or getting the stock room in order.

When the shift was over, it was amazing how much clean-up-and-straighten-up had been accomplished. We never sold squat that day but the manager was quite happy anyhow.

My point is this: The others all spent the shift working their buns off, very happy to be told what to do. (Remember, I had no authority to order them around!) I spent most of the shift straining my brain to come up with meaningful chores, including how to look busy myself.

Moral of the story: It is easier to do than to think. I'm certain that there are limits to what people will willingly do just because someone told them to do it, and I'm not much of a manipulator. But, hmmm...suppose I were an out-of-work paperhanger who was able to make impassioned speeches to a bunch of other down-and-outs... to just what lengths could they be persuaded to go???

alohachris
July 2, 2010, 03:29 PM
Great replies. Yes, the author went on to say that it's important to understand that he's not discriminating. He didn't want to give the impression that "there are two kinds of people". He restated that all humans have this inherent inclination to 'let others do their thinking for them" and "go along with the herd" and "avoid being the nail that sticks out, to avoid being pounded down".

It's this very...laziness?...thing that others can exploit to gain the power to dominate, a la Bloomberg & Daley. I think the idea of being free is scary to many people. It means taking responsibility, which many are loathe to do.

Perhaps acknowledging this fear in "anti's" is a key to winning the hearts & minds?

"So you're afraid of guns?" "Yes, I can see how it can be scary to have that much responsibility." "I was nervous the first time I handled a gun too". "Would you like to go to the range with me & my son? I'd be glad to show you the basics."

texgunner
July 2, 2010, 03:45 PM
It's the path of least resistance. It is easier to just go along with the crowd and let someone else make decisions.

KodiakBeer
July 2, 2010, 04:00 PM
If anybody is familiar with Hitchens, you'll know he started as a dedicated socialist/communist in his younger days and over the years slowly began to recognize the enormous yawning gap between the "ideal" of socialism and the reality of socialism. He's now more of a libertarian than a progressive.

He's a brilliant man who was once lionized by the left, but now is pretty much persona non grata among that crowd. He's an individualist and though I don't always agree with his take on events, he's worth reading and he will make you examine your own premise on a number of issues.

He has cancer and may not be long for this world... I hope he makes it, and I'll miss his columns if he doesn't.

Manco
July 2, 2010, 04:30 PM
Yes, the author went on to say that it's important to understand that he's not discriminating. He didn't want to give the impression that "there are two kinds of people".

But the reality is that there are fundamental differences between people. While we may not be able to completely and cleanly split people into any two groups (and bifurcate those groups, and so on), to a meaningful degree we could. For example, most people have consciences and a strong drive to appease their consciences--this is one main group. Regarding security, for some this means being able to defend oneself, while for others it means trading away freedom for safety (usually only an illusion in real life, of course). That's two subgroups based on the same principle within one main group. The other main group comprises those who are self-centered to such an extreme that they have virtually no conscience to speak of.

He restated that all humans have this inherent inclination to 'let others do their thinking for them" and "go along with the herd" and "avoid being the nail that sticks out, to avoid being pounded down".

I would agree that most people, in terms of numbers, are like this--basically sheep. They appease their consciences by allowing (sometimes demanding) others to take the burden of responsibility (and some freedom in the bargain) away from them. However, I disagree that the other types or groups are rare in number. Although a minority, there are plenty of people who can only truly appease their consciences by taking responsibility (within the limits of society) and doing things that need to be done--these people are leaders. In the other main group are self-centered individuals who have practically no consciences, such as career criminals (the dumber ones) and most politicians (the smarter ones).

It's this very...laziness?...thing that others can exploit to gain the power to dominate, a la Bloomberg & Daley. I think the idea of being free is scary to many people. It means taking responsibility, which many are loathe to do.

We are social animals, so it is natural that the number of followers would be greater than the number of leaders. However, the point at which the system breaks down and becomes dysfunctional is when the followers use the collective power of their drive to appease their consciences against the leaders by empowering politicians (with criminals coming along for the ride in the case of the RKBA). They do this also out of ignorance and blind trust in false leaders who have no consciences and only desire power. One also has to wonder if there is some resentment against leaders by some of the followers, as some of us may be familiar with in the office environment (e.g. don't do so much work because it makes us all have to work harder!).

Perhaps acknowledging this fear in "anti's" is a key to winning the hearts & minds?

Telling people that they tend to pass off responsibility to others in order to have a clean conscience while giving up their freedom might sway the perspective of some, but I wouldn't expect many people to actually change their ways, of course. Also, depending on the person, the analogy of children versus adults in the context of the "nanny state" might be useful or just plain insulting.

"So you're afraid of guns?" "Yes, I can see how it can be scary to have that much responsibility." "I was nervous the first time I handled a gun too". "Would you like to go to the range with me & my son? I'd be glad to show you the basics."

This touches on a different aspect of psychology, and is definitely something we need to work on culturally. Guns are no more dangerous or burdensome with regard to responsibility than automobiles, for example, but for some reason most people aren't afraid of the latter. Demonization must ultimately be replaced with familiarization if we are to succeed in the long run.

LittleHarryNut
July 2, 2010, 04:43 PM
It's the path of least resistance. It is easier to just go along with the crowd and let someone else make decisions.

exactly.

.... i am enjoying reading everyone responses and insights here.

eatont9999
July 2, 2010, 05:25 PM
Firstly, People come in different flavors. There are the easily complacent and there are the questioners of the world. The need for strict rule is nothing more than an insecurity. People are a social animal by nature and often require other people to interact with; thus they gather in groups and provide the opportunity for a ruling member/s. Living in an organized/controlled society provides a sense of security, organization and and easy way of living. Some will gladly trade freedoms for these false feelings. But there are the dissenting few. All you need to know is which group you are in when it comes down to the end.

The Expert
July 2, 2010, 05:53 PM
I'm of the opinion that we have crossed the point of no return. Too many people, as outlined in the original statement, are happy to sacrifice their freedoms for the snippets of security that they think they are being provided.

Careful scrutiny shows that we are headed toward a One World Government. It's not a matter of "if" anymore, but only a matter of "when".

People on the various boards I frequent talk all they want about they "cold dead hands" and they'll find that such will be the case. The reality is a lot worse than that hyperbole.

If you care for the religious side of things, if you believe The Bible, then the fall of nations is inevitable. There is no mention in that book about a "great and good nation" that stands alone while the "rest" of the world fawns over the rise of a very well-liked, very evil world leader. The hard truth on that is that if The Bible is right in its predictions, the people of America will sign on with the rest of the world when such a time arrives.

ConstitutionCowboy
July 2, 2010, 06:51 PM
Few strive for liberty; most settle for prosperity.

And there in begins the loss of that prosperity. Once lulled into a false sense of security, your wealth will be siphoned off and there you are without the liberty to keep your wealth or the liberty to establish new wealth.

It's this very...laziness?...thing that others can exploit to gain the power to dominate, a la Bloomberg & Daley. I think the idea of being free is scary to many people. It means taking responsibility, which many are loathe to do.

I think people want the freedom. It's the responsibility that scares certain people.

Woody

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