A False Dichotomy – Part 1

Cover of "Red Scarf Girl (rpkg): A Memoir...

In an attempt to be a better mentor to my children, I have recently been reading a book some of them have read and others are reading titled, “The Red Scarf Girl” by Ji-Li Jiang.  It is a memoir of Ji-Li Jiang who was in her early teens during the beginning of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

It is interesting to see the point of view of a 13-year-old child who had been brought up to believe that Mao Tse-tung was a savior of the Chinese people from the oppressiveness of the evil upper class, and to see the conflict that went on within her mind and heart.  Even though she had been brought up to honor and revere Chairman Mao, her Grandfather had been an “evil landlord” and so she was considered to be of the “black class,” needing cultural reform.  Her father was imprisoned and abused, their family had most of their possessions confiscated, and worst of all to a 13-year-old, she was treated with contempt and disrespect by her peers at school.

There are many other things that can be learned from the book.  At the time I am writing this, I have not yet completed it, but I will shortly.  There are many things that can be learned from studying historical events like the Cultural Revolution, but this story has me thinking about the false dichotomies that we are given by people seeking to gain our political support.  Some would have us believe that we have to choose between complete government control and complete anarchy.  They paint the picture using different words to serve their personal political agenda, but it boils down to this: The reality of this false dichotomy is that the solution to societal ills is neither complete control by the institution of government, nor complete abandonment of that institution.

When the institution of government is given too much authority and not kept under check by a vigilant electorate, it turns into a totalitarian, tyrannical government, as was the case with the Cultural Revolution, in China.

When the institution of government is completely eliminated, the result is that the honorable people are not organized while the dishonorable people are.  The result is a tyrannical oppression by organized crime and thugs, like what is happening in Somalia.

Both sides of this argument are supported by honorable people who have sincere desires to help other people.  When it comes down to it, everything, if left to itself without any restraints, will tend toward chaos, destruction and misery.  The only real solution is self-government, and the elimination of self-deception, on the part of the individual.  This means that the individual takes responsibility for everything that happens to them and makes a conscious choice about how they respond.  It also means treating every human being – whether they agree with you or not, whether they make good decisions or not, or even whether they are right or not –  as human beings whose feelings, desires, and opinions are just as important as your own, or anyone else’s.  We don’t have to agree with someone or even like someone to treat them as human beings ought to be treated.

… continued here


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  1. Pingback: A False Dichotomy – Part 2 | The Free Commots

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