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Safety in Contrariness?

Recent mass-killings by politically-minded madmen continue to remind me of a book I read back in my undergraduate college days. Humphrey Neill’s The Art of Contrary Thinking continues to remind me of the advantages of thinking outside collective norms. Those driven by the desire to murder massive numbers of victims – whether we refer to them as “terrorists” or “government leaders” – depend upon finding their targets in crowds or other great collections of people. Populous cities, entertainment arenas, schools, airlines, night-clubs, dance-halls, are among the sites where hundreds or even thousands of potential victims congregate. Perhaps it is just another example of the decentralization that is taking place throughout our institutionally-centralized world, that our individual safety may be fostered by an awareness of the increasing dangers that inhere in crowds. The videos of individuals running away from the World Trade Center on 9/11, or of tourists hurriedly distancing themselves from the truck whose driver had just murdered some eighty people in Nice, might remind us of the virtues of smallness, or of living in more isolated communities, or of working from home or other smaller settings that do not require the amassing of thousands of productive people. Perhaps even the Internet or home-schooling may come to be looked upon as superior – and safer – alternatives for learning, contrary to the traditional practice of collecting thousands – or even tens of thousands – of children or young adults into the academic herds that have attracted those of violent dispositions.

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1:54 pm on July 15, 2016