Have the religious leaders and the men appointed by them to carry out their wishes, begun instituting and relying upon a culture of 'control through fear'?
I see this time and time again. People who are very upset about one issue or another in the Jewish community, but are fearful of speaking out. Fearful that their children will not be admitted into the "right" schools, fearful that their daughters will not be offered the "right" shidduchim, fearful of being labelled a trouble maker and being subsequently ostracized.
When did honest and open dialogue L'shem Shomayim (and I do believe that the majority of people on all sides of the issues are working L'shem Shomayim) become taboo? When did all but the most right wing opinion become something to be only whispered in darkened rooms? Why are people so afraid?
Case in point #1: Kindly respectable gentleman who has been wearing a white straw hat to shul in the summer for the past 30 years or so suddenly stops. Why? When asked privately, he admits that he is concerned that it may be affecting his 22 year old daughter's shidduch prospects (TRUE story).
Case in point #2: Recent, ongoing issue with overpriced chickens in my neighborhood. Many people come over to me and solicitously tell me where they buy their chickens and how much they pay. I ask them if they addressed the issue with anybody in a position to correct the problem. Sheepishly, though they admit to not paying those prices and taking their business elsewhere, they affirm that they haven't spoken out.
Case in point #3: Working and learning father of a large brood dutifully sends all of his sons off to Lakewood. As they marry in quick succession, with no secular education or training, the father is forced to take on more and more jobs, barely sleeping, in order to support his growing list of dependents. Finances are quickly spiraling out of control and eventually the community must bear the responsibility. But he feels he MUST follow this path without question.
People admit to wishing things were different but feel they have no power to affect change and are unwilling to paint what they perceive will be a target on their backs. Whether the threat is real or imagined, they are afraid.
How did this begin?
Where will it end?
What can we do about it?