TW: Physical Abuse, Psychological Abuse, Cruelty, Authoritarianism, Religious Fanaticism.
I just finished reading Educated, A Memoir by Tara Westover. Anyone who has ever lived under a cruel, dictatorial power, be it familial or government, is likely to be rocked to their core reading this. Though the scale of what I endured throughout my childhood was much milder, and some of the themes did not apply, the resonnance with the handful of themes that did left me reeling.
More than just a memoir; it is a cautionary tale of what life will be like if Q-Cult and 45’s people get their way. People wave these popular conspiracy theories off as fantasy or delusion, but they are very real. There are always multiple realities existing simultaneously, and far too many of them are created by the cruelest person in the group. These realities can be possible to escape physically, but the ties go deep. People’s lives are regularly ruined, yet they keep going back for more. They can come and go between the two realities, but there is deep damage that exacts a terrible cost.
Just ask anyone who has lived under such an authoritarian. The questioning of their version of events, the shame, the guilt, the sense of failure, the memories of powerlessness and physical pain, the humiliation. These ghosts, and more, haunt perpetually, no matter the level of education one receives, how much fame and fortune they amass, or how much therapy or other healing work they do. The ghosts are real, too.
One of my closest friends told me just yesterday that she’s tired of focusing on the darkness and refuses to live in fear any longer. This focusing on the “light” avoidance tactic is dangerous. This person has never had to face the illogical authoritarian forces that I have. They have no idea what that magnitude of fear is. We haven’t seen anything yet.
I don’t consider dealing with the crisis at hand living in fear or focusing on the darkness. I consider it smart.
Look at all the scoffing that happened leading up to the 2016 US election, and now look at the US. And still people say things can’t get worse. Oh, yes they can. Look at E. Germany before the Berlin Wall fell. Look at all the genocide of the Indigenous Peoples in this country and others. Look at the human slave trade. Look at the very real lives shattered in just this one family Educated is written about. This is what the risk of the Q cult is.
This anti-science, anti-education, seeing the Illuminati in every form and institution, religious in-group fervor, that hears and sees things no others can, and that sends people on missions to save others, ridding the world of “evil”, that is consuming formerly rational people I know is the canary in the coal mine of a free society. I hate to say it, but that canary is dead, and we are on the brink of a nightmare very few of us can imagine, if we don’t wrest control back NOW.
So, how do we do that?
I dislike when people raise the alarm without suggestions for action, so here’s a few: Stop thinking other people’s desired social structures are ridiculous. Take them seriously and plan for a possible life under their constraints. Contribute money or time to organizations that are leveraged to make real change in the electoral process or getting individual candidates elected. Contribute money or time to organizations leveraged to make a real difference on slowing climate change. Climate change is only going to radicalize more people, and not in the good sense of that word.
Offer your labor or money to Indigenous-led projects; they are the wisdom keepers of how to live in harmony with nature and each other. Educate yourself and learn how to offer your labor or money to People of Color led projects to dismantle the Patriarchy and other oppressive systems; creating a society where no one is oppressed helps us all. Create resilient systems with like-minded people; don’t just rely on social media. Find a way to cement ties with local people that don’t require electronics. Give up worrying about all of it; narrow your focus into an area that speaks to you, and go all out.
Read the book. It’s eye-opening. I’ve never urged on the grim reaper like I did reading this book in my entire life. Reading the reviews, I thought it would ease up in the second part, when she goes off to University. Nope. It’s horrifying all the way to the end. Be forewarned. This is a future that is knocking loudly upon our doors.