I think I’ve told the story about how, in a college literature class, I raged against a line in “The Catcher in the Rye” that said:
The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.
I see a lot of fantasy persecution on the Internet – second amendment discussions where writers imagine their embrace of firearms is vital to resisting an increasingly tyrannical government. Legal discussions where writers imagine that jury nullification is a vital tool for resisting the abuses of corrupt judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers. Discussions of societal trends where Christians and men’s groups imagine they are the real persecuted victims.
In every case, it seemed to me, the real problem was that the world was not emotionally satisfying to the writer and working within the system would be hard, incomplete, and still emotionally unsatisfying. The reality is that, given a broad enough perspective, we are all more or less interchangeable cogs in a vast universe that will grind along just fine with or without us. That’s a tough situation for an individual ego.
The temptation is to become the hero in one’s own personal narrative. And, being Alexander, cutting the Gordian knot with your sword gives you a better shot of dopamine than being part of a committee tasked with unraveling the damn thing.
But, at some point, most of us have to grow up and do what we can to help the system grind along in a more or less satisfactory manner. It’s not glorious. But it’s a citizen’s duty.