What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.
My thoughts keep circling back to what is to be done about the dark times we find ourselves in. The answer I keep returning to is: Nothing.
On March 20 there will be a global demonstration for freedom in over 100 locations. The organisers (who are from Germany) say in their promo material: “We will make it clear that the government’s attempts to divide us have been unsuccessful. Together we will ALL be on this demo to demonstrate against the current Corona measures!”
A couple of weeks ago, somebody in a telegram group I’m in saw a poster for this event, commented that Israel should be represented, given that Israel is on the front line of corona-tyranny, and wondered how it might be possible to get hold of the organisers. Whereupon I, being bored, took a few minutes to track down the organiser and said that she could add Israel to the list of participating countries. Which she did.
That was supposed to have been my only involvement – I long ago realised that protest is an absolutely futile act designed to do nothing more than make the protesters feel that they have ‘done something’. From the Countryside Alliance’s Liberty and Livelihood march in 2002 which drew a crowd of 400,000 in London, to the Stop The War Coalition drawing some 750,000 to London a year later, I can’t think of a single instance in my lifetime in which a protest has actually changed public policy.
But somewhere along the line, over the following few days I found myself the de facto leader of this event. ‘Alright,’ I thought to myself, ‘if this is supposed to be about people the world over coming together, we’d better get our own house in order and make this a unity event for the whole of Israel.’
So that was the vision: not making pointless demands that our politicians overturn their totalitarian policies – newsflash, they’re not going to no matter how many placards you wave – but instead using the events of this last year as a catalyst to bring people together. To start to reach over fences, shake hands, and unite against the tyranny that has been targeting some for years already, and threatens now to target us all.
But of course, people didn’t understand…
“What are our demands?”
“We don’t have any. It’s a non-political protest.”
“What do you mean we don’t have any? What are we protesting for then?”
“We’re rallying for freedom.”
“Freedom to do what?”
“No, just freedom. You know, being free.”
“I dunno, sounds a bit vague to me. People won’t get it.”
And so, dear reader, after a week of trying to explain to people that if they have to ask the government for the freedom to do this or that, they’re not really asking for freedom, they’re asking for permission, and if you have to ask permission, well, you’re not really free… I’m afraid I gave up. I let them have their non-political protest to beg favours from government and I walked away.
I knew it before, but I keep circling back to this. People are not yet ready to be free. They still think we can return to 2019 when the most pressing concern for the western middle classes was how to balance off having an annual holiday in the sun with making adequate retirement plans.
But we can’t go back to that world, because the illusion that that world was benign has been utterly destroyed. You can’t un-take the red pill.
And of course many of us were already well aware that our society has been running on borrowed time for many years now. From the degradation of the arts to the dumbing down of education, from the corruption in our judiciary and politics, to woke-culture and cancel culture, not to mention high property prices, low wages, and cheap, asinine consumerism, 2019 was shit. 2018 was shit. 2017 was shit. Arguably you have to go back to the 1950s to reach a time when most people in the west led fairly decent, moral lives, although there were still pockets of such a life in rural areas until the late 1980s and perhaps in more remote places they still exist.
All of this needs washing away. Our society needs to be scrubbed clean. And it won’t come from a rally or a protest, or opposition to green passports or to lockdowns, because ultimately green passports and lockdowns are not the problem here. They are a symptom of a much deeper problem.
The problem is: we have forgotten what it means to be free. We have forgotten what it means to have personal responsibility, to act morally, and to live in community. That is why we are now so easily controlled, manipulated and divided. It could never have happened to a population that was sure of itself and its rights. It readily happens to a passive population that has traded self-reliance for an easy life.
The solution is therefore obvious, but painful. We must re-learn what it is to be free, and the only way to do that is the hard way.
The trajectory we are on is now set. The governments have their plans, and most people are oblivious. They gladly sell their freedom for a few crumbs of dilapidated comfort, and so the governments, who have chosen their time well, will enact their plans. This is inevitable.
But no tyranny lasts forever. Sooner or later a human soul, somewhere, cries out in the darkness and awakens those around him. A ripple becomes a current, and a tidal wave is set in motion. This too is inevitable. And so nothing is to be done. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.
Those of us who yearn for freedom have only to watch, and to wait.
If this blog resonated with you, you may enjoy my novel The Book of Niv: A Modern Bible Story, now published in print and ebook. It is written for these times, for those who know what it is to be free. For those who watch, and wait.