Democratic Underground  

Follow This
April 17, 2002
By Susan Norman

As children we were taught, as part of our culture, that conformity is desired over personal expression, so that today we are conditioned to follow without question.

Don't believe me? Well, just think back to when you were a child. Do you remember playing follow-the-leader? I sure do.

I remember that we used to choose someone to be our leader, then we would stand in a line and hold on tightly to the person in front of us and try to follow the movements of the leader. He or she would do silly things and we would follow along behind him laughing, and without realizing, trusting all the way.

"Conformity," so to say, is made that way.

There were never any questions asked about why they were doing these crazy things and we never worried that that our leader might lead us to any form of harm. When the leader's time was up, we'd pick a new one and continue playing until we were tired or it was time to go inside. Either way, we were being conditioned to become adolescents who would further become stunted by the need to conform in an adult world.

Culture just happens to work in those innocuous ways.

It was, to us, a way to pass the time, a way to release some of our endless energy. And when the day was over and I was in bed, I'd fall asleep thinking about the fun that we'd had that day and planning for tomorrow.

It was just a childhood game - - and it was fun.

Who would think that such a harmless game would someday stifle our self expression to the point of possible self extinction? Impossible? Yes, until somebody, like maybe a George W. Bush, came along.

And indeed, several years ago, I saw a story on the news about a group of whales. There were a large number of pilot whales that had hurled themselves onto an isolated beach in Florida, in a follow-the-leader fashion.

People came from miles around to try to help turn them back. They tried creating something like a human fence between the whales and the shoreline. They worked hard to try to save them, but even when the whales were pushed and forced back into deeper water, many of them repeated their behavior and just lunged themselves back onto the dry beach again.

I could hear their horrible cries of distress, almost as if they were beckoning other whales to help. That was a sound that I will never forget.

Those whales were following their leader, just like we did as children playing our silly little game, but their behavior ended with disastrous consequences.

That wasn't a childhood game--and it wasn't fun to watch.

To not have the wisdom then to perceive the connection, and with it make informed and rational judgments today about the future is about right for the collective mindset of a "very conformed" American public who knew. They played follow-the-leader. They also heard the whales and missed the metaphor that was to become their own political futures. And all they have now is denial, little flags to weakly wave, and a dose of fear left behind as a result of what seemingly is the most predatory, irresponsible and inept governmental administration ever to visit our political landscape.

I've been thinking about those whales that chose to follow their leader to their own mortal extinction and I realize that there is something about human beings that seems to mimic the self destructive whales.

Some people are leaders, but most people are followers. There isn't anything wrong with being a follower as long as the person you choose to follow has your best interests in mind, is honest and even more important, sane and rational.

With what has been transpiring lately in this county, albeit since Bush has been in office, I'm reminded, not of follow the leader, but of the venerable parable of the Pied Piper. A similar theme except filled with need and expectation rather than harmless fun. Bush, who like the Pied Piper who promised to rid the land of plague infected rats, promises to rid the world of terrorists. And the people are listening and believing the tunes emanating from the tenor of his promises. The problem is, that it isn't the terrorists that are falling by the wayside. It is us, the metaphorical Hamelin suckers, who wanted to believe through need, just as we did through harmless trust as children.

Our liberties, rights and freedom are now being compromised by an Attorney General who is a perverted dichotomy of Merlin the Magician and Elmer Gantry. And we are seen and treated no less than the rats that followed the Pied Piper, right off the proverbial cliff.

But, are we that stupid? Or are we no different from the people of Hamelin contained in the writers message?

You decide while you read this and dismiss me if you can, in the same measure that he dismisses your rights in the snake oil atmosphere of promises and duplicity.

As Bush plays his haunting tune for his followers, we sit idly and watch our freedoms and liberties slowly and methodically being taken away, but that's OK, he says it's in the interest of National Security. He's doing that for us. His "trifecta," as he says.

We sit and watch Muslim neighbors and other foreigners, being arrested on no more than unconstitutional racial profiling precepts, and "interviewed" for no reason except they are from "those" countries. But that's OK too, we are fighting those "evildoers." Bills are being passed without Congress even reading them, but that's OK, surely Bush knows what he's doing. Just follow the Leader. Swoon to the promises of the Pied Piper...and all will be well.

Or, so it seems.

We've heard that there will be military tribunals for those presumed "people of evil." We've read about how the FBI now has the power to read our emails, to monitor the Internet and put spying software on our computers without us knowing it and to wiretap our phones and our conversations, but again, it must be all right because I've heard no real outrage from the majority of the citizens of the United States. They say people shouldn't question him because he is our leader, our president.

Well, it seems that the majority of the people in the United States are playing follow-the-leader and will blindly follow Bush right off his own personal cliff, while listening to the tune of his perverted music all the way--right to the doom that awaits them.

Wake up people!!!!!!!!!!

That is not patriotism or trust, that's conformity. People need to realize that every herd of cattle or sheep, ultimately ends up in a slaughter house somewhere. When did you think that you were the exception, except in a storybook?

We don't have to follow a leader that we don't approve of or trust, particularly one who has shown such poor judgment and leadership. It doesn't take an Einstein to know that if you follow a sick and incompetent leader, it will always end in tragedy and failure.

While we may struggle with the issues and challenges of today, we can make a choice. We can choose to be a person who says, "Someone else is in charge," and then whine when things don't go right. Or, we can choose to say, "I am a part of this country. I have a voice. I am what makes this country what it is and I can help make it better."

We The People own this government, they work FOR US - not the other way around.

What is it going to take for people in our country to realize that this leader doesn't have our best interests in mind? Why is it taking them so long? Will they then only realize how dangerous this current situation is when this administration and other countries begin using biological warfare and nuclear weapons and millions of people die? Will they hear THOSE cries of distress? Will they realize it then?

This isn't a childhood game--and it isn't fun.

"Follow this," not the remnants of the games and fables you experienced in your childhood and your children are presently using to follow in your footsteps to an oblivion they won't be able to provide for themselves. Because you will have unwittingly, yet conveniently, provided it for them through your own conformity and ignorance of a reality that requires your scrutiny--not your blind trust.

Printer-friendly version
Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend about this article
Discuss this article
Democratic Underground Homepage