What is Tyranny?

Mine:  Tyranny is contempt for personal freedom, democracy and the rule of law.  (In other words, President Trump.)

1.  arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
Synonyms: despotism, absolutism, dictatorship.
2.  the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
3.  a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
5.  undue severity or harshness.
6.  a cruel or harsh act or proceeding; an arbitrary, oppressive, or tyrannical action.

1 :  oppressive power every form of tyranny over the mind of man — Thomas Jefferson; especially :  oppressive power exerted by government – the tyranny of a police state
2a : government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler; especially :  one characteristic of an ancient Greek city-state
2b :
the office, authority, and administration of a tyrant
3 :  a rigorous condition imposed by some outside agency or force – living under the tyranny of the clock — Dixon Wecter
4 :  an oppressive, harsh, or unjust act :  a tyrannical act – workers who had suffered tyrannies

The majority of us grew up in tyrannical families.  We didn’t, and probably still don’t, think of them that way.  However, one or both our parents made decisions for us.  While we may have been offered some pool of alternatives, the extent and depth of that pool was limited by the moods, views and intelligence of those parents.  Better parents offered explanations.  Poor ones punished questions.

In my family, my choices were shaped by my gender, my health, and my need to please.  I first rebelled about a mandatory bedtime at the age of 12 years.  If I got to school on time, my grades didn’t suffer, and I didn’t disturb anyone else, I chose when I went to bed.  In my case, that meant when I stopped reading and turned out my light.

Over time, I fought against restrictions and decisions that were clearly based on the chance (often unlikely) that I’d get sick or be injured or my female gender.  I was passionate, but I hated confrontation.  I hated confrontation because others didn’t just argue about the issue, they made arguments personal.  I wanted consensus.  If that failed and the issue primarily affected me or affected only me, I wanted my decision to be the final and I wanted veto authority.

Civil society requires a certain level of respect for standards, rules and traditions.  Narcissism and selfishness are the extremes of individualism, but tyranny (and fascism) is the extreme of conformity.  If you let someone else think for you, you give away your power.  When a power vacuum occurs, someone will fill it.  If you give up collective action, you give up social power.  If you fail to vote or vote based on false information and a short attention span, you give up control of your life, your community, your state and your country.  You slip into that childish mindset.  You conform.

We stopped paying attention … we left politics and government to crooks and the power-hungry … we gave away our power .. we gave away our consent by inaction … we enabled tyranny … we enabled Donald Trump and the Republicans.  The biggest things we gave away were critical thinking and civility.  We still have institutions to defend, the use of protest and collective action and the free flow of information.  We need to make sure that doesn’t change.