How petty can I get? Very! Right now I’m in a pique because the manager of the food service where I live has added another restriction. I can have a salad, but I must ask for the dressing. The manager explains he hides it to save counter space, an excuse that might convince a two-year old but no one else. I admit, given the state of the world, bristling about salad dressing is trivial … except the man’s bureaucratic mind leads me to a larger point.
First, let me be fair. The manager has his supporters. One calls him a “dear, sweet man.” I say this in the interest of balanced reporting, but I don’t believe a word of it. What I do believe is that we all stumble across a martinet from time to time. You know who they are: persons with a little authority who exercise it as if they’ve been awarded crown and kingdom. We find these people working as clerks in the social security office, the DMV, the IRS and other institutions stapled together by a plethora of rules. Each encounter confronts us with a question. “Should we behave like people or sheeple?*
In life, we must weigh the price of freedom versus the price of order as a matter of routine. Too much of one or the other and we encounter either tyranny or chaos. Voters in Turkey recently choose order. They have given their new tyrant limitless power and he is using it limitlessly. If they choose to accept his straightjacket and do nothing but smell the lilacs, they will live in peace. Meanwhile, some of their cohorts may suffer torture, imprisonment or worse. In one week, recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired 4,000 public officials , 140,000 journalists, teachers, police, judges, bureaucrats and soldiers. Having decimated a free press, he now blocks access to Wikipedia. (The World at a Glance,” The Week, May 12, pg. 10.)
Not all tyrants are as visible as Erdogan. As I say, they lie in wait, even at the salad bar. Mexico offers another prime example. Not until 2014 did child brides become illegal and despite the law’s passage, it is seldom enforced. (Ibid pg. 10.) Child brides exist because, “regionally there is a strong perception that if you have a younger woman, you are more masculine.” (Ibid, pg. 10.) Because of this mindset, girls are beaten, raped and saddled with early pregnancies that can cost the lives of both the child and the infant. When a man marries a youngster, says one expert, it isn’t about sex. It’s about control. (Ibid pg. 10.) For the male, whatever his status in life, there’s one person he can treat as he wishes. He has power. He feels macho. (To help child brides Click)
Every day, we face challenges which we can either meet or ignore, depending upon how free or how comfortable we wish to be. My tipping point is salad dressing. Others might not awake until the coming of the 4th Reich.
*New word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced.” (The Week, May 12, 2017 pg. 8.)