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Constraint • Posted: Sep 08, 2020 10:21:39Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Do you remember all the looting in Chicago after the George Floyd assassination? Do you remember the couple in St. Louis pointing guns from their front lawn at passing protesters? Do you remember the uproar in Europe over the influx of migrants fleeing war in Syria? Do you remember “children in cages” at the U.S. border with Mexico? Do you remember President Trump’s pledge to build a wall? Do you remember “Lockdown” and mandatory masks and social distancing? Do you remember speed limits? Do you remember the Ten Commandments?

Do you know what all those things have in common? The notion of constraint. The notion that “this is as far as you can go.”

Who sets all those limits to our impulses, anyway? Who draws all those boundaries? Who benefits and what purposes do they serve? And perhaps more importantly, what opportunities do they both open and close for us?

I’ve commented regarding constraints numerous times in previous posts to this site. I’ve commented that some constraints such as well-considered economic regulations can increase opportunities for more of us and help to protect the environment upon which we depend for our wellbeing. I’ve commented that a liberalizing education can empower and increase individual potential within a complex society, as opposed to rote doctrinal learning that severely limits individual power, creativity, and potential. I’ve commented numerous times that prejudice based on outward appearance and faulty logic unjustly limits others and undermines our own potential for growth and adaptability.

Yes, yes, constraints sometimes address and sometimes fail to address the emotionally charged fear of loss that concerns many of us. We like our stuff and our friends and our homes and our jobs. We like them just the way they are. We worked hard and suffered hard for all those things. The potential for losing them stirs great distress and even fear within our souls. We don’t know what to do. Should we abandon reason and trust and go buy a gun? Maybe buy several guns? President Trump plays to those concerns by harping frequently and loudly on the possibility each of us could lose something dear to us, as if he has a realistic viable solution to our concerns. He doesn’t. Not for the vast majority of us, anyway. In his privately held plan, we are mere pawns to be exploited in his own personal drive to elevate himself and his fewer and fewer friends to impregnable castles in the sky, where he will be safe from all of us who have far less. In his plan, we are all cast as “losers” and “suckers” to be exploited.

But, back in everyday reality, well-considered constraint commonly adopted can and does increase opportunity and individual power and potential for all willing to participate. That truth has been demonstrated over and over again within the preponderance of societal and cultural historical evidence since the Enlightenment of the late 17th and early 18th century. That is the power of working together. That is the power those who want all power and potential for themselves fear.

Take a look at the image above. Five young people, both male and female, walk together through the crowds of Venice Beach near Los Angeles. Three are optimistic, confident, and unconcerned. Two show clear signs of concern. Why the difference? Even though there is high probability all five are all from the same family, if one takes note of the almost identical shape of their noses, how is it that two of their number show so much more concern? And, just what is that concern all about?

Individual experience molds us. I’d guess that three of those young people have been able to move through their development and schooling encountering a minimum of prejudicial constraint. Opportunities have opened for them and they are eager to take on new challenges and learning. The other two, I’d guess, have encountered significantly more opposition and constraint to their development and schooling. They are apprehensive as to where and when that unpredictable opposition and constraint will come from next. And, they are steeled against it.

If you were their parents, would it not concern you to see that difference and feel its weight? Would that weight not make you feel both sad and frustrated and possibly even angry? Perhaps angry enough at some point to loot and set fire to the symbols of those who set and propagate such unjust and destructive prejudicial constraints? If they were your children, you would. You would if your children were made to suffer threat of harm and the continual stifling of opportunity. If they were your children, anger would no doubt come easily and often. It’s actually a wonder we don’t see more anger and outrage against those who so casually and prejudicially oppress our individual drive to build and maintain our own personal safe castles in the sky.

Please consider who will have the power and what kinds of constraints will be newly set to what consequence as you cast your votes this season of election. It will matter to your own personal concerns. And, it will matter to the health of our communities, our countries, and of our planet. Move beyond the destructive constraints of your own fear. Take a well-considered step toward enlightenment and wellbeing for all of us. Take a step toward materially easing steeled fearful concern in the eyes of all children, not just your own.

Saturday, September 1st, 2018
Los Angeles/Venice Beach
30 mm 81 mm
1/640 sec
f 4.5