When we have individual fears, we wish the world went easier on us.
When confronted with authority, we want to find some kind of rule that means it cannot get to us, or at least that we make it really hard.
Around 1789, we started banding together and overthrowing authority. Their rule: form a hierarchy to achieve an abstract goal. Our rule: all people are equal, and people are the goal, so destroy authority.
We trashed culture, religion, aristocracy, then even the idea of government itself. Surely now we are free.
But there’s a problem. The more we smash authority and enforce tolerance, the more disorder spreads.
It turns out that not everyone is nice. Our thought progression:
The rich are bad. The rich are the bad.
The bad are the rich. The rich are the only bad.
We remove the rich; therefore, we’ve removed the bad.
Oh wait, the bad exists among We The People, too.
We have rich people and governments as a way of distinguishing leaders. If enough people bought your product, it must be good and you must be smart. If enough people voted for you, you must be doing something that’s right.
Alternatively, we could just pick our best people to rule, and we’d have to con them into it because they and only they will view it as the most serious and hardest job on earth, but that’s another topic for another day.
But instead, we’re focused on defending ourselves against The System. As individuals, we want rules that ensure we are beyond its reach. We want to weaken it however we can. It is beyond us that others will abuse these same freedoms and in the ensuing chaos, produce a worse form of social system.
There are many ways this phenomenon manifests:
Crime. We pad our courts with rules, laws, appeals, technicalities and other means to protect us if we’re unjustly accused, which happens very rarely. What happens all the time however is career criminals, pedophiles and scammers exploiting these rules.
Screening. First airplanes, now maybe trains and buses: we will experience the radar scan and pat-down. This means that every single person undergoes a humiliating procedure and thousands of hours are wasted, instead of doing what smarter groups do: find those likely to commit the crime and pull them out. But we can’t do that; it’s not humanistic, or fair, or equal. Human rights must trump logic, because we as individuals fear being on the wrong side of authority.
Schools. Your child gets a terrible education in public school because (a) the course work is dumbed down so no one feels left out and (b) the school refuses to kick out troublemakers, violent kids, and special education cases who cannot “mainstream” with an ordinary class and always require more attention, yet will never use that education. We all suffer so the few unproductive ones have rights.
Customer service. At your favorite stores, people do dumb things all the time, and some are understandable. Sometimes, the bottle of apple juice just slips out of the fingers and breaks. Other times, it’s people moving slowly, scamming the customer service returns, vandalizing packages (including the odious habit of leaving frozen goods in random aisles when they decide they no longer want to buy them) and obstructing aisles. The few again ruin the experience for the many.
Our modern world is addicted to this human rights view of reality because all of our political systems are based on it. After all, if you were oppressed and the kings were bad news, you need to have reached a Utopian state after you killed those kings. But we haven’t. So the denial spreads, and we insist further on the human rights of all people, especially to sabotage the rest of us with their selfish and delusional behavior.