Victory over Fear

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
Let me be free. So simple and yet so complicated.

[This article was originally published here.]

There were whispers and quiet conversations behind locked doors, and now there is one of the largest protests of the current century underway concerning the pandemic and the zealousness with how governments are responding to it. It has caused a further divide in the political landscape and in homes. Given that, I can’t help but explore the psychology and philosophy behind the Canadian Freedom Convoy.

As I was laying down to go to bed last night, I was checking in on the freedom convoy on my phone and after watching a video that showed they were still holding strong for more than a week, at that point, I couldn’t help but smile and say that I was proud of them.

Canadians, the most peaceful, kind, and law-abiding people that have probably ever existed are shutting down their country in protest and causing their major news networks and president to hide behind screens and attack their very characters, calling them cultists, racists, and Nazis.

Ugh… Just typing the word Nazi is so exhausting, so overplayed. So starting now, despite how relevant, ironic, or humorous it may be, I will not be using the German acronym for Nationalist-Socialist for the rest of my article.

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
Who would have ever thought that we would associate the Canadian flag and the people under it with cultism and racism?

I don’t get too excited about politics or the things that happen in the world, especially in the news. But when I had my little chuckle of pride at seeing Canadians fighting for freedom, my wife looked over at me and gave me one of her infamous looks of disgust. I couldn’t help but shrug my shoulders and say ‘What?’ with a mischievous smile.

My wife knows I’m not against vaccines or being safe in these times. So as a quick disclaimer, if you’re new to my writing, then you may not know, but my wife and I are pretty experienced warriors with conflict. We know not to get too excited about politics, but every once in a while, when the mood is right (or wrong) and the issue is just sensitive enough, we go at it.

Another thing to know, in case this is your first time reading me, is that I am a veteran of two militaries: the USAF and FFL. What does this have to do with arguing with my wife? Well, really, it has to do with who I am in spirit. In the military, we have a certain way of dealing with things in life that can best be summed up as:

‘We are soldiers. We guard honor and wage war. (In between we wait like a stone until our chance comes again).’

And though my wife is a shrewd, intelligent, and headstrong woman, God have mercy on the person who has a debate with the writer/philosopher with the heart of a soldier. That soldiers guard honor and freedom and wage war is not limited to physical battles against foreign entities. It is a spirit that is carried into every confrontation.

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
Despite contrary belief, soldiers know how to read, write, and think. I bet Canadian truckers do too.

Still, this article is not to browbeat my wife or anybody else that thinks like her. It is to better explore and understand why they think the way they do. Though perhaps, I will make some jokes at her expense. Sorry, baby. You married a writer. I still love you.

So the argument started a bit silly. I felt like I was defending the honor of the Canadians weathering the freezing Canadian weather for something they believed in, which just also happened to be something I believe in.

She said they were just throwing a tantrum. That by her reasoning, the same ‘stupid’ people that overreacted to the pandemic by buying all the toilet paper were the same ‘stupid’ people that now had had enough of people overreacting to the pandemic. Now, this doesn’t really add up to me, but the underlying common ground for her mind was that one set of people acting in a way she thought was stupid was the same people acting stupid now. There aren’t different kinds of stupid people for her. Stupid people are just stupid people.

I laughed at how that made little sense to me, but it still felt something like an attack, seeing as how I just showed admiration for these people and they were peacefully standing up for something I believed in. So I stopped laughing. Let’s go to war.

For most of the argument, my wife sang a chorus of: ‘It’s just a fucking vaccine.’ So let’s knock this part of the argument out of the way first. I did this last night too, but she still sang this chorus like the latest Ariana Grande summer hit throughout the argument.

People say my missus looks like Ariana Grande. It definitely makes it easier to forgive her.

Despite there not being any signs saying that vaccines are bad and that I have myself had my vaccines and we have scheduled to get our boosters soon, the wife’s argument was still based on this concept that the Canadians are against getting vaccinated.

Whatever, I figured I could work with that and took vaccines as my point to illustrate the ideas behind the protest.

Getting a vaccine isn’t a problem for most people. What the involuntary vaccines and enforced mandates and medical passports symbolize for the Canadian truckers and many other people across the world is contrived detention. And I use the word detention on purpose because it all feels a bit childish. Like when we misbehaved in school, we had to go to detention. And all of this feels childish on both sides.

My wife says they are throwing a tantrum, and I feel like they are acting like children because they are being treated like children. When you become an adult, do your parents still call to make sure you brushed your teeth? No. That’s ridiculous. So why do we need someone to tell us as adults to do the other basic things to take care of ourselves and those around us?

A good parent educates and then lets go. Shouldn’t a good government do the same, assuming we still need some sort of parental figure in our adult lives?

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
Damn right it is, cowboy.

People that believe others need a spanking to make them brush their teeth are the people that need a spanking in order to make them brush their teeth.

And if talking about teeth-brushing is too trivial to be taken seriously as a metaphor, we could make a list all day long about things we should do for our health that could be enforced but aren’t. Power-hungry people, please don’t use this as a cheatsheet.

  1. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. It kills more people in a year than Coronavirus has altogether. (Sources here and here.) This is clearly a greater risk to human lives than even the new coronavirus that is catching our immune systems by surprise. Should we make bacon and sugar illegal? Should we send people to prison for not eating healthier? Should I report my grandmother when she puts too much butter in the cookies she made for Christmas?
  2. Cancer is the second-highest cause of death in the US. Let’s take two things people can be held somewhat responsible for with cancer — lung cancer and skin cancer. Should people show a receipt for a recent purchase of sunscreen to go to the beach? Should we ban cigarettes after legalizing marijuana?
  3. What about alcohol?
  4. Cars?
  5. Suicide?

Where do we stop? When we start down the road of ‘I have the right to force you to be safe and healthy,’ where does it end? Even if your intentions are good, can we be blind to the consequences of giving this sort of authority to a select few? Anti-terrorism laws for arresting people without formal charges led to many innocent people being imprisoned. We agreed to this out of fear and many people later suffered for it.

What can be heartbreaking for me with my wife is that we recently had an incident with Mexican police regarding an arbitrary law that made no logical sense to use. Yet, it was a law set in place long before and still gave Mexican police power to abuse for the personal benefit of their egos and wallets.

How could she forget that and still want to hand more authority over to people that will use it against us? People that she will no doubt say are ‘stupid’. Yes, most doctors will say get the vaccine, but the people enforcing this law aren’t doctors. And we must remember the big picture of things when selling our liberty for security. After the pandemic is over, the fear of a common virus will subside and all it left us with is one more set of rules we must follow for fear of reparations or worse.

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
Get him! He’s not wearing a mask! He’s a danger to society!

Now, you may think the police won’t abuse such power. Well, they already have. Amnesty International wrote this report at the end of 2020, and if you think things will get more lenient, pick up a history book.

You could definitely make a good argument here for the problem being with the police and not the laws. And I agree with you. However, the only powers police or politicians or corporations can abuse are the powers we give them. And if we give them power, there will be some that will abuse it no matter how much training they go through to teach them otherwise.

The best we can do to limit the abuse of power is to limit the amount of power we give them.

Giving responsibility for our health and safety to others may seem like a responsible thing to do, but true responsibility comes from learning how to take care of ourselves and the ones we love. Not expecting others to do it for us, be it neighbor, nurse, or state senator.

Besides, can we really say we are ‘doing the responsible thing’ by just giving our responsibility over to someone else? It’s like saying we are altruistic because we vote for someone that is going to take from the rich and give to the poor.

Should the rich give to the poor? Absolutely. There’s enough wealth to go around, but we have to be smart about how we get the fortunate to help the less fortunate (and not simply the self-entitled). But voting to put a gun to their head and forcing them to do it doesn’t make someone a hero, especially if that person is going to benefit from this money by having ‘free’ education or healthcare or booze money.

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
I have a big generous heart with other people’s money.

Okay. So, maybe they now understand that it isn’t ‘just a vaccine’ anymore. We have opened their eyes to the present-day consequences of authority and the potential for even more trouble down the road.

Still, the other side of the argument is holding strong. What is going on up there? How can they still keep singing ‘It’s just a fucking vaccine,’? Let’s go back and examine more of the words used…

How about ‘stupid’? The other people, us in this case, are just stupid. We apparently don’t know what is good for us. I don’t really know who these stupid people are that my wife keeps referring to when talking about the general population, because everyone she knows, including her family, friends, etc all agree with her about vaccines. So why do we need a law to enforce something most people have already agreed to?

Claiming ‘everybody is stupid’ despite the obvious, personal evidence around you they aren’t could be linked to two things.

  1. A superiority complex / narcissism — Basically ‘I believe I am smarter, better, and/or more capable than you, therefore I should have authority over your life to make sure it is a good life.’ Ironically, this sort of behavior comes from people that are usually miserable in life. Most people don’t know what is good for themselves, much less for others, but still, this is a complex and mental disorder for a reason.
  2. But this is a bit harsh to think of our fellow humans, however true it may be. So let’s explore the second possibility as to why ‘everybody is stupid’. Pluralistic ignorance is the (incorrect) belief that one’s personal attitudes are different from the majorities’ attitudes, and thus one goes along with what they think others think (Miller and McFarland, 1991). Most people probably want to take care of their health and the health of those around them, but everybody looks at everyone else as careless and a danger to society. My wife and I can walk down the street in Mexico City and see 90% of the people wearing masks, but she will still believe that most people are stupid and do not do the proper things to protect themselves and others. That they need to be told what to do with the weight of authority on them.

If the coronavirus is a genuine threat to humanity and society, so much so that we must implement laws to safeguard us from it, shouldn’t we at least be smart about what these laws say and enforce?

In looking for sources to support my thoughts on this, I found a video that I couldn’t agree more with. So I will just share that here to give you a break from reading for a moment.

I don’t think anybody can say that Bill Maher is a right-wing radical.

I think some of the key things to be taken from this video (besides being more precise) are really just common sense concepts that seem to have been forgotten in this moment of crisis and never-ending hysteria. But the one I’m going to focus on here is that ‘science’ can be wrong.

No doubt there is corruption in the health industry. There is surely politics involved. Yet, even excluding those two things, scientists and doctors can get things wrong. They are trying. Sure. But even Dr. House gets it wrong 5 times every episode before he gets it right.

So please, please, please stop just blindly believing the first thing you hear as the ultimate truth that will stand the test of time. We are bound to get it wrong, and that’s okay. But when millions of people are screaming, ‘You deserve to have criminal charges brought upon you for not eating your doctor recommended apple a day.’ We are blurring two worlds into a very fuzzy and irrational one.

I get it. We live in one world. It’s all mixed up. But we shouldn’t treat the virus as a criminal, nor the people who refuse to be afraid of it to where they are ready to disrupt the lives they want to lead. If you really were healthy, you wouldn’t even be afraid of death. Something, that whether you like it, is going to happen to you and everybody you love at some point, anyway.

This sort of mentality didn’t start here, though. It was a thing long before coronavirus where non-scientists were screaming, ‘But it’s science. You can’t question science. It’s a fact. Now bend to my awesome powers of regurgitating things I read online.’

Umm… Hello? Science is all about questions and testing things that were previously ‘known’. High-five, Galileo Galilei.

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
The Facebook-Scientists of today’s world closely resemble the religious fanatics that hated to be questioned by the real science-minded peoples of the world.

Good science comes from questioning facts, not saying something, and then screaming, ‘but it’s science.’ Why did these pretend science people bring the Spanish Inquisition to the 21st century?

‘Fake News! Fake News! Misinformation! Misinformation! Burn him at the stake!’

Grow up and learn to take all information with a grain of salt and discuss all doubts/questions/facts with a doctor you know and trust. I mean, since when was getting a second opinion such a bad idea? What is so terrifying about hearing a potentially good diagnosis over a grim diagnosis? Are we that desperate for drama in our lives?

Inequality is a hot word these days, and to take advantage of that, we should talk about the inequality of information and the freedom to speak one’s mind. It’s crazy to think just being able to share one’s thoughts has become such an act of violence.

And just to remind anybody that is still saying, ‘It’s just a fucking vaccine.’ Being for freedom and critical thinking doesn’t mean being against the vaccine or wearing masks or taking precautions to protect the community.

The 1st amendment (of the US Constitution) is probably on the top of the list for a reason. If we lose this, what are we left with?

We aren’t always going to agree, but we can’t cut off talks at the point we don’t agree with or when we don’t like what the other person is saying. (Unless it’s your spouse. Then learn to ‘agree to disagree.’) Discourse is not a bad thing. Dialogue is the technique for how Zen masters help their students reach enlightenment. It’s also how Dr. House saves his patients.

Yes, I am just now watching the TV show ‘House’.

Yes. Everybody. Even the news. Even the doctors. Even me.

‘But we got a second opinion. We got 1000 opinions!’

Yes. I hear you. Joe Rogan’s podcast episode with Dr. Robert Malone, the first guy to play around (and still plays around) with mRNA technology, caused enough controversy that 1000 doctors thought it was misinformation. That’s a lot! Amazing!

Or is it…?

How many doctors are there in the world? 9.2 million according to the New England Journal of Medicine. That’s .01087% of all the doctors in the world that believe Dr. Robert Malone is spreading misinformation. My calculator told me that. Numbers don’t lie. Well, they kind of can sometimes, but that’s just a trick to awe third-graders.

And do we think all the 1000 opinions against Dr. Malone know more about mRNA technologies than the father of mRNA technologies? Hmm… Interesting, no? If we really think about it. We are only as good at science as the people we talk to and the information we read (and, if we are able, the observations we make).

I don’t consider CNN a dominant source for science. Nor do I consider most people on Facebook to include our aunts, siblings, and best friends. No offense is meant, but probably most of the people we know don’t really have open conversations, nor are they well-read beyond mainstream news sources.

It almost makes one question… who are the stupid people? This general population of stupidity that will lead to the death of humans and the world as we know it? Still, this is not a critique of our friends and family, it is just an observation to keep in mind when we agree with people that know just as much as we do… which is basically nothing.

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
Oh boy, the feminists aren’t going to like people stealing their slogan, especially when it is used in a more scientifically accurate way.

The truly underlying argument for the Freedom Convoy truckers or the Hong Kong rioters or the Joe Rogan fans or Libertarians is the belief that they prefer liberty over security.

They believe that:

  • Knowledge is a power that the individual should hold and use, not a godhead of government.
  • Choosing liberty over security provides more risk to life, but also more reward.
  • Courage and integrity lead to freedom, and freedom leads to a more responsible and trustworthy nation.
  • Giving more power to a system we already don’t trust is not the answer to solving our problems/fears in life.
  • The only way to overcome fear is to take risks.
  • The life you choose affects the way you feel about things.

For some of us, we have the courage (or stupidity) to take on this thing called life without an authoritarian parental figure holding our hand along the way. Yet, not that it is always such a simple decision or right decision for everybody. It is a trade-off.

Still, it is a decision that should be made by each individual rather than FOR each individual. This argument could fill an entire website or Tolstoy novel, so we might get back to this another time.

For now, I have managed to get to the thought that will bring me to the conclusion of this article.

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
The blinding light of freedom can be frightening at first, but Plato would honor your courage for breaking the chains of security and braving this scary new world.

Fear is the underlying emotion that dictates the lives and actions and thoughts of the people that want and need the government to take control of the situation with legal and (possibly) physical action.

To throw in a bit of Taoist philosophy:

People that don’t trust others don’t trust themselves.

So why are we so terrified of ourselves and others that we will knowingly give up our freedom to take it away from others? Why is it we don’t trust ourselves to make the right decisions to the point we need to be told what to do?

Let’s go back to childhood, shall we?

We have been brought up with a very drawn-out and impressionable idea of obedience. This idea has affected my students in China more than my compatriots in the States, but even the ‘Land of the Free’ is very much under the influence of it.

Since we were young, we have been told, both in school and out, that maturity meant doing things we don’t want to do. Where the problem lies here for me, is that we weren’t taught to think and then decide on what must be done and not be done, but what must be done came from powers higher than ourselves rather than our own inherent abilities to interpret and analyze information.

Nobody cares if we like geometry, but we better learn the angles of a hexagram. It doesn’t matter if want to be electricians, but we better know the difference between volts and amps. Shakespeare is probably boring and illegible for most, but you better sing Macbeth to graduate high school. And do we remember these things? Information we lost years over to memorize simply because ‘we had to.’

We gave some of the best years of our lives to this, all because we were told to, with no actual logic or elaboration on how this will benefit our happiness or the world.

Victory over fear, canadian freedom convoy, anti-mandates, anti-vaccines, coronavirus pandemic regulations
Why must I waste this youthful energy and body sitting at a desk learning shit I don’t care about? Why?!

This philosophy and way of life become integral to our entire attitude towards the world. What we want isn’t important. We study what we are told. We get a career in what we should based on others’ opinions. It becomes a thing of pride to answer ‘What do you do?’, not because we took a chance on something we wanted to do, but by all the suffering from doing what we didn’t want to do.

Sadly, the idea of freedom becomes this highly abstract thing that is both attractive and utterly ridiculous. I mean, maybe you get Saturday night to be truly free, or maybe when you retire if you planned well (or have a well-organized government to take care of you), but most of your life will do things because you were told to do them. Great…

So we learn to justify our disappointment with ourselves and our lives. We had no other choice, right?

  • We have to do a job we hate to pay the bills.
  • We have to stay in a loveless marriage so our friends won’t judge us.
  • We have to stay close to home to not get lost.

We use our brainpower to create such impressive excuses for ourselves that we actually convince ourselves that dysphoria is necessary and sane.

An ironic thing about the security v liberty argument is that those that seek external security do so because they lack internal security. They have never felt free on the inside. They have never felt secure with themselves to display disobedience or to question the authority figures on the outside (unless their hormones did it for them in a childish and idiotic way).

It’s understandable. We were all threatened to stay in line as children. Our minor rebellions were always squashed. We lost and saw why we lost.

Still, a healthy person isn’t afraid to be ‘bad’ from time to time. To question the status quo. To challenge authority. This doesn’t mean breaking the law or being an aggressive ass. It means finding and embracing that inner freedom that says, ‘Do it. Jump. Go for it!’ even when others might find it weird or distressing.

We may come back to where we were, but if we have a sincere wish to explore something, either by thought or action, we should be allowed to for the sake of our authentic selves. As much as anybody may try with the best of intentions, nobody can be the right keeper of our lives, for the simple and obvious fact that their ideas about what is good for us haven’t been shaped by our unique needs.

You do you, Mraz, as goofy as that is.

You do you. Let me be me.

Freedom doesn’t have to just mean having money to take vacations. Freedom ultimately means not being held to the expectations of others. Now, if we want to work our asses off on Christmas Day, we should. Work does not define freedom. (This is not to dismiss financial freedom.)

The key factor of freedom is our ability and willingness to fail or bother or confuse the expectations the world puts on us. We don’t need to roll around in the mud with this. We don’t have to troll the comment section of the world to prove we are free individuals. We may actually even like getting along with others.

The point is that we can live with the idea that our core beliefs and basic decisions do not need to be met with general approval.

Who cares if:

  • The girl at the party doesn’t like our career choice.
  • A family member doesn’t approve of our living situation.
  • Coworkers think we have too many dogs.

Sure, we can see how our choices and opinions may be odd, but we don’t really care that much because we’re free. Our sense of life and our sense of self is not tied to how others have defined it or us.

To be free is to be loyal to ourselves.

I tip my hat to you Canadian truckers. Fight for what you believe, no matter what slander the world throws at you. However the dice may fall, don’t let the world bring you down. Despite what others may say, you have the right to voice your opinion and frustrations when others try to exercise their self-entitled ‘right’ to tell you what to do or who you are.

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

~ Kurt Vonnegut

And fight for that beautiful world of non-forced kindness, trust, and brotherly love.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
S. W. Stribling

S. W. Stribling


Creative and thought-provoking material with a touch of humor. Author of the ‘Sin & Zen’ series. @SWStribling