In Praise of the God of Little Things

One of the biggest enemies of freedom is bigness itself. The bigness of institutions whose gross interiors belie their grand exteriors; whose hallways run like rivers of green or gray paint and empty like estuaries into a vast sea of pollution; whose levels continue to rise, threatening to drown not our lives but our liberties; whose depths are a dumping ground for public officials and private organizations; whose borders will not stop until we stop the expansion of a government too big to succeed and companies too big to fail.

In a way, these institutions are like giant cargo ships that sail within a sea of their own creation. They are, to mix the amphibious with the apparitional, ghost ships: alive only to the extent that their existence can deaden our senses and dull our spirits. They are unsinkable so long as we remain aboard, too quiet to fight and too desperate—and thus too depressed—to know we should flee. They are uncontrollable, too, so long as they can isolate us within our windowless cabins; so long as they can narrow our range of movement until we can do nothing but move our heads and nod in agreement.

Their fuel is not the noxious fumes of diesel or coal but the poisonous flow of paper—of memos about workplace behavior and missives about why we must work without being true to ourselves. The edicts will never end, and the announcements will never cease until our acquiescence is the sole form of acceptance.

Such are the laws of bigness in which there are no legislators we can recall, no decisions we can reverse, and no decrees we can repeal. The choice, then, is to swim—against the currents of the ocean and the coldness of the water, as we struggle to stay afloat while we remain adrift at sea.

Let us hope to reach an island of independence, instead of an atoll in an island chain of dependence and despair.

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