Yesterday, while I was enjoying a cup of coffee at one of the allegedly hipster coffeehouses I frequent, the woman at the next table struck up a conversation. She and her husband had just returned from a bike ride about ten miles up the coast. I objected that the bike paths were closed by order of our scary-looking county public health official and assorted lesser authorities. I was informed that they were now open, whereupon I set off to explore.
Indeed, it was true! I was overjoyed. Everyone was delighting in a beautiful day by the beach, reveling in their new-found freedom. I was grateful to be able to resume some normal activities. Only one day before, there were orange barricades blocking entry and at many points along this path, and rent-a-cops enforcing the no-go zone. [click on photo to enlarge]
Upon further reflection, I became somewhat less joyful because something came to mind that Niccolo Machiavelli had written about 500 years ago:
For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer.
This is from Chapter 8 of The Prince: “Concerning Those Who Have Obtained a Principality By Wickedness.” Machiavelli’s point is that people will soon forget the initial pain imposed by the prince and “…he will be able to reassure them, and win them to himself by benefits.”
After suddenly imposing draconian restrictions on every aspect of daily existence, our rulers are gradually letting us have our normal lives back, albeit a new normal. And for this we should be grateful and pledge to them our undying loyalty for their generosity. It’s downright Machiavellian.
These princes have obtained their principalities by wickedness. Too many of their subjects have been taking the red pill lately; it’s time to get them back in line.