Ben Franklin’s choice for a personal Motto was Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God, and for the reverse side of our nation’s Great Seal. He was probably thinking about the American colonists ongoing rebellion against the King of England and other potential governmental despots that might arise in our new government, but we could consider the tyrant problem in a more generalized sense.
These days we have many tyrants trying to command us to do things which are not in our best interests or complied with of our own choosing, besides the governmental ones. The media is perhaps the greatest public tyrant these days because it acquires so much of the public’s attention, to its primary purpose the selling of products. It is a softer form of tyranny, but because of its ubiquity it has more impact on American’s daily lives than the government. At present we have reasonable laws reasonably enforced and they are easy for most people to comply with, and we do have recourse to try and change the laws we don’t like without being jailed or killed for expressing our opinions. But, the ubiquitous and omnipotent media is difficult or impossible to ignore or to block out of our daily perceptions.
Whenever, some force takes over our behavior it might be thought of as a tyrant, and the most powerful of these, even more powerful than the public media, is our own inner self, our controlling collection of solidified habits, which in my personal case I like to call my Zombie. Mine is quite friendly nearly all the time, but it becomes clear whose in control when I try and change some of its simple little habits. Last month I decided to try and avoid swearing when little annoying things happened, like the dropping of a spoon, and my Zombie was very annoyed with me for infringing on his territory. I was largely failing to change that habit until I created a new habit. Now when I swear, it is an almost uncontrollable spontaneous act, I intentionally redo the act, dropping a spoon for example, five times and then pick it up or whatever is appropriate but without swearing. Instead, I observe what needs to be done to recover the spoon to it’s proper place. This gets me into a new habit for when that mistake happens in the future.
Our own self is potentially the greatest tyrant of all. There is the old saying, Know thyself! That is difficult enough, but changing a habit requires much more than just observing oneself. The tyrant of one who has control over your actions and who isn’t affected by your needs and pleas to do something else. Usually, we complain of some external tyrant, but it is the inner tyrant who is the worst manipulator and the hardest to control.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a similar statement, He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. He was referring the disconnect between the proclamations of the US government about freedom and liberty for all men, and the actual implementation of those concepts for his people. But, that concept can be applied to the constant evil that resides within us which habitually does things which are counter productive to our own well-being and the well-being of our community and our whole world.
Rebel against your inner tyrant whenever he takes undesired control.