One of the first lessons that children learn in abusive families is how to navigate the unsafe adults around them. Children in such circumstances become expert at discerning the varied moods of those around them, knowing when conditions are good and one is relatively safe and knowing what conditions spell danger, and how to avoid danger by also trying to avoid being the subject of unwanted attention. It has commonly been thought that these skills are immensely harmful to one as an adult, but that is not necessarily the case. It is immensely useful to have antennae that are focused on the danger of a situation when one lives in abusive regimes because the dynamic is unfortunately rather similar to that of abusive families, only writ large. People in positions of power are not always patient or wise or governed by self-control and restraint. Indeed, people in this present evil world often seek positions of power in government or other institutions precisely so that they can avoid having to restrain the baser aspects of their corrupt human nature. Those people who are subject to such authorities, on the other hand, can find that knowing the moods of their governors can be the difference between a peaceful life lived with one’s head down and years lost to the locust in some vile gulag or an unmourned place in a mass grave.
One can tell a great deal about the quality of a regime by the sort of people who are afraid of social, legal, and political consequences for what they believe and practice. There is no regime which is tolerant of everything, for every commitment will bring with it inevitable enemies and the heavy hand of coercion against everything that threatens it. Evil has always sought to be tolerated when it is in a position of weakness, but quickly forgets to practice any such tolerance when it is in a position of power. Therefore, one can determine a lot about the quality of a regime by those who live in fear of being social pariahs or inhabitants of dark dungeon cells or still worse fates. Do people fear speaking about the evils they wish to inflict upon the innocent and the vulnerable? That is good, as such things ought to be viewed as being worthy of chains and death. Are people bold in making threats if they are of one political persuasion but afraid of speaking obvious truths if they are of a different one? That is a sign of deep evil in the state of a given society, where evil people have far too much power to persecute righteousness and turn a blind eye to convenient evils.
One of the more unfortunate problems of our contemporary society is the way that everything is viewed as political. This is not a healthy development. Society is at its safest when the sphere of politics is limited to comparatively narrow areas within boundaries that are universally agreed upon, and with other areas that are viewed as being outside of the sphere of politics altogether. Those things that are left, for example, to conscience and about which a diversity of opinion and belief and practice are allowed are not properly a part of the political realm, because we have decided not to decide them using the coercive power of the government, but rather to leave them up to each individual to choose for themselves. It is only that which one seeks to determine with the power of government, operating with a proper respect for the rights and freedoms of minorities, and an avoidance of using power to abuse those with whom we might disagree with, which is properly speaking political. Those who seek to make everything political wish to force their opinions on everybody else. Such people are not worthwhile people within the body politic, and bring misery and suffering upon both their own miserable selves and everyone else within their sphere of influence.
One of the more notable aspects of humanity is that other people tend to like others to be like them. This is not to say that we are not immensely competitive about what we have and tend to think that the blessings we have are scarce and have to be hoarded and protected, but rather that people tend to demonstrate what they are by what they want others to be. Those who are mutilated and damaged tend to want to damage other people to make them like they themselves are. Those who are intelligent and love knowledge want to spread that knowledge and that love of knowledge to others, secure in the fact that they can always go out and get more knowledge whenever they want it, for it is so readily available. Those who are fit and in good health are full of advice to others about how to get in shape. We naturally possess within us the tendency to convert others to that which we are, and so one can determine what we are by what we are trying to convince others to become. If we are good, we will be trying to encourage and cajole others into becoming better. If we are evil, we will be trying to make the world into the sort of dark place where we feel more at home. That which is inside of us cannot help but try to come out of us. We, who are created in the image of others, cannot help but try to make the world after our own image and kind.