“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.”
― John Steinbeck, quote from East of Eden
The world abounds with ideas, religions, and governments which limit or destroy the individual. America, once the champion of a “marketplace of ideas” now cancels not only ideas, expressed or implied, thought “misinformation”, but cancels the person with the idea, as well.
This is the Catch-22 of our lives today. The free, exploring mind of the individual that Steinbeck finds so valuable is not allowed to exist unless the free, exploring mind, takes a direction dictated by the Woke movement.
The most valuable thing in the world is to have the freedom to think thoughts and to choose behavior – accepting, as one must, the consequences of that behavior, whether legal or moral. How did we go from the unlimited development of the person to Woke Totalitarianism?
Steinbeck explains the answer.
- There is the mind. It must remain free and exploring. It must be able to take any direction it wishes. Steinbeck would fight against any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys where the mind goes. If the mind wishes to go to Wokeism and thoughts of an Oppressor Class the mind must be free to go there. If the mind wishes to go to the Founders vision and thoughts of a Meritocracy the mind must be free to go there, also.
- There is behavior. This is not the mind, this is action taken that is rooted in the mind. This is choice of action – free will.
Put a simpler way – one may think what one likes but one may not behave as one likes in our system. Many think that the police should be de-funded and that public safety should be re-imagined. This is free thought. These thoughts, however, may not be extended to assassinating a police officer.
The Woke Movement has turned Steinbeck’s distinction between thought and behavior into one and the same thing. What the movement has managed to do is to convince those in positions of authority that the free thoughts of the movement are somehow factually “true.”
Corporate boards are now encouraged by the Securities and Exchange Commission Chair, Gary Gensler, to select members relative to status rather than relative to knowledge, experience, and ability. This is based on the idea that equity should be imposed.
Many school boards have embraced the entire Woke cultural and sexual agenda and are teaching it to young children, based on the idea that all whites are racist and all children have sexual fluidity.
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down scientific debate and mandated, on penalty of cancellation, access to prophylactics and treatments that might have saved lives. Some of the most cruel Woke ideas taken as “true” involve powerless children.
The irony in all this is that our Constitutional system as envisioned by the Founders functions just as Steinbeck wishes. It protects free thought and encourages competing ideas. It lets the market decide what a good idea is. Boundaries are placed on behavior emanating from those ideas, not the ideas themselves. Those boundaries are represented as the Rule of Law:
- Unwritten Law – boundaries called manners – courtesy and comity among individuals
- Natural Law – boundaries called unalienable rights to life and liberty
- Positive Law – boundaries in the form of statutes, ordinances, administrative rules, the Common and Constitutional Law
- Moral Law – boundaries revolving around the Ten Commandments and Christianity– killing, stealing, lying, coveting, swearing as what you must not do; loving God, honoring your parents and loving your neighbors as yourself as what you must do
Free will relative to moral boundaries brings good and evil into play. Steinbeck explains, “But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”
What the Woke Movement has done is to create boundaries and punishments around an idea itself, not a behavior emanating from an idea. One can be punished – canceled – for not subscribing to, say, abandoning the nuclear family or the secret sexual reorientation of children or the diminution of the male. Woke Totalitarianism is evil, and some persons have freely chosen it – the leeway Steinbeck talks about in East of Eden. “Some forces seem evil to us . . .because their tendency is to eliminate the things we hold good.”
What we “hold good”, among other things, is the exploring mind of the individual human being and our Constitutional system that protects free thought and the preciousness of the person.