Sincere Tyranny

Sincere Tyranny January 20, 2017

CindyFosterby Cindy Foster cross posted from her blog Finding Fundamental

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. 

The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. 
They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” ~ C. S. Lewis
I sit on a man’s back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
Sometimes, I wonder if I am wearing a sign only visible to a select few that says, “I need help but I don’t know it”.  Certainly, I am not the only one who feels this.

Truth is, we all need help at times when we are the last to recognize it and I am no exception.  It is at those times that our best defense mechanism kicks in–denial.

Thus, it is when we really, truly need the help, we strangely, passionately deny it. However, the one so concerned must be sure that it really is just denial before forcefully intervening.

I am not usually quick to seek help, even when I really need it.  This is not a good thing and I know it. But, there have been certain people in my life who were determined to ‘help’ me when I wasn’t the one who needed it….they were.

Furthermore, the kind of ‘help’ they were pushing, was actually not helpful at all, but just the opposite.

This is the danger of being so confident in one’s perceptions of another’s life when refusing to believe that only the other person knows best what his or her own needs are.

The safest policy then, when one says they don’t need or want the help, is to believe them and back off!

So, what kind of person does this?  What kind of person insists on ‘helping’ the person that doesn’t want it?  And what is the ‘help’ they think is needed?

It is the “omnipotent moral busybodies” C. S. Lewis identifies and their misguided, misplaced and maligned ‘sincerity’ who are the culprits.

And what is the ‘help’ they offer?  To impose their own relative values on the other.  Why?  Because ‘misery loves company?’  Because they feel their own lives are out of control so they need to control someone else’s?  Because they are projecting their own  moral deficiencies on another as a cry for the help they need?  Because they really believe themselves to be intellectually and morally superior enough to impose on others?

Whatever the reason/s, known or unknown, what is known is they are sure they have the right to do so because they are sure they are ‘so right’.

But C. S. Lewis got it so right because what the ‘needy other’ is actually receiving of their impositions is “hell on earth” and “intolerable insults.”  They are treated as ‘infantile’, ‘imbecile’ and ‘domesticated animals’ who have not nor ever will reach an age of reason enough to actually discern for themselves.

How utterly demeaning!

Surely, some of these ‘moral busybodies’ really are sincere in their actions, however bothersome to the others.  They may only need a little enlightenment to displace their ignorance.

But for those whose underlying need is to display their superiority?  Their’s is a more troubling problem.

Still motivated by conscience, it is a seared one functioning as a mask to hide the real issue….feelings of extreme inferiority and insecurity.

But left to continue uncontested?  Their ‘sincere tyranny’ exercised for the good of the other will become….

just plain, evil, tormenting arrogance.

moreRead more by Cindy Foster:


Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Cindy Foster blogs at Finding Fundamental

Cindy Foster is “Mom” to eight gorgeous, talented, temperamental, noisy, opinionated, alike-but very different kids. She has been married to their daddy, Paul, for 36 years.

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  • gimpi1

    I love the quotes in your opening, here. Well done. The worst sort of oppression can sometimes be the oppression imposed ‘for our own good.’ We saw that in the views held in both slavery and the Jim Crow south, where supposed ‘defects’ in people of African descent were used to justify laws ‘protecting’ them by keeping them from voting, working in many jobs or getting ‘too much’ education.

    It’s hard to admit when we need a hand. We live in a culture that prizes independence and self-reliance, and those things are good. However, we all need help sometimes, and learning to accept it is part of learning to treat each other and ourselves with grace. Good job on the work you’ve done on this.