Yep, that's a line. A real, honest-to-goodness "line in the sand." Right there, in Wisconsin.
Excuse me? What's that, you say?
I guess it HAS been a long time. Such a long time, maybe, that few of us remember what a line in the sand looks like, what it symbolizes, what it's FOR, even.
We live in a world where lines blur and change and writhe and rearrange themselves based on profit and self-interest and laziness and comfort and delusion so often that maybe sometimes it seems like lines have ceased to exist. So let me explain.
A "line in the sand" is how we describe it when some person, or group of people, who have been subjected to manipulation, oppression, force, deception, or other negative attempts at control, says "enough, already! HERE is where it ends, and we are not going one.
No matter what. No more. Threats of violence, terrible consequences, violence itself, all the machinery of power and control can throw at them won't be effective. They have decided, as a bunch of dedicated anti-monarchists once did, to put their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" on the line. Resistance has hardened, the choice has clarified. The line is drawn.
Let me tell you some things about the line in the sand:
Once it is drawn, it cannot be erased. Those who have ranged themselves behind it will not "give up." They will not "go away." They are not discouraged by opposition, they are strengthened by it. They cannot be swayed by propaganda, by excoriation in the press, by attempts at distracting them or defusing their determination disguised as "reason" or "compromise."
Lines in the sand are contagious. Once people who are experiencing genuine malevolent control perceive the power of a line in the sand, they draw MORE of them.
It is possible to wipe away a line in the sand, to de-escalate and diminish its power, but this cannot be done by opposition, or by denying the line's existence or the moral force that brought it into being. It can be done ONLY by making concessions, by "giving in" to a sufficient extent--a real or symbolic extent (works best, in fact, when you disguise the difference between real and symbolic)--that enough of those behind the line believe they've achieved what they want, and walk away from the line, and it again dissolves. It CANNOT be dissolved by "refusing to negotiate." It CANNOT be dissolved by opposition that fears "looking weak."
Those who fear to "look weak," in fact, almost invariably make the exact wrong moves, further hardening the line and empowering those ranged behind it. Attempts to test the resolve of those behind the line, by violence or pressure, often draw more people to stand behind the line, and inspire the drawing of more lines.
I tell you these things, although I think you know them. I am certain that the people standing behind the line in Wisconsin know them.
It is a source of continuing wonder to me how blind the powerful are to this reality. How easy it is for the tyrants and oppressors and manipulators, the greedy and self-interested and arrogant, to ignore this reality.
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