Oh, Brave New World that Hath Such People in It

Agoraphobia is defined as the irrational fear of crowds.

I do not have agoraphobia. I have a very rational and well-founded distrust of people in large groups.

I told this joke a year ago, and felt terribly clever. I mean it too. People in groups frighten me, even groups I am a part of. This does not mean I distrust any particular people on these grounds, just that whenever people agree about something, they’ll end up conspiring against others. I know this happens, because I do it myself.

This makes me focus a lot on individuals, and I find people – individually speaking – are just mind-numbingly awesome. If we have been in touch, it’s probably because I find you fascinating. I have an unhappy crush on humanity.

Being a teacher and a politician, I get to spend a lot of time around people, and I’ve never really gotten the hang of it because they scare me. Not individuals, just groups, and not really groups themselves as much as the tyranny of consent they represent. A consensus is a powerful thing. It transcends individuals, creating a higher self that accumulates more followers. In the end, the individuals are led by their adherence to this consensus.

This makes it sound like I think there’s a conspiracy or an evil plan at work, which I don’t. It’s just us.

There are individuals I respect, because they are true to themselves and still make room for the doubts of others. They do not proselytize or dictate terms, but will fight their corner when they must. They keep their individualism.

I have seen it in my pupils. They’re young, idealistic, aggressive and brash. Many of them suffer alone, in silence, because they do their own thing and refuse to be dictated. I love them for that.

I have seen it in my friends. They are stubborn, wise, strong and full of doubts. They do what they know to be right and follow their convictions, even to the point of intransigence. I love them for that.

I have seen it in my parents. They taught me to do my own thing, and to learn from my mistakes. They are islands in oceans of people, often alone, even when socializing with crowds. I love them for that.

I have seen it in my fellow politicians and voters. They ALL seek to do the right thing, even when fighting each other tooth and nail. I love them for that.

I see it in my wife and children. They love people, but sometimes need to socialize on their own terms or remain alone. I love them for that.

I just want you all to know this the next time you feel alone about your opinions or your beliefs: I may not agree with you, and may even be violently opposed to your opinion, but I am with you.

Because individuals are always more important than a consensus.

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