Friday, August 10, 2012

Mass Media Illusion

The people I know who are still sound asleep don't see anything going wrong.  They are content and distracted, completely disconnected from the world that sustains them.  They have no understanding of this. They think their state of disconnection is actually being connected.  What are they connected to?  The mass media.

Some folks sit in front of a television set for hours every day. They will turn on the TV in the morning and leave it on all day whether they're watching it or not. The TV is the last thing that gets turned off at night.  When they do sit down to watch it, their favorite shows are interrupted every few minutes with groups of advertisements trying to sell products of every conceivable kind.  The ads don't just play once but are shown over and over and over again.  The constant interruptions are outrageous and insulting but they don't mind.  They don't feel the insult of it and won't refuse to put up with it.  They would never say "Enough is enough", pull the plug on the TV set and cancel the cable TV account.  It would never occur to them to phone the cable company and say they are no longer willing to be abused and exploited by people who want their money and that they're closing their account and won't be back until the commercials are gone.  They will probably never just walk away from it all and go do something else instead.  No.  For the rest of their lives and their children's lives they will sit in front of the TV set for hours each day and night and intake the commercials as if the commercials are a part of the show.  As if commercials naturally belong there like unavoidable thorns on a long stemmed rose.  As if commercials are a natural part of television.   It's a trade off they have come to perceive as normal and expected.

Trade offs in nature are not unusual.  Coconuts have impossibly hard shells to break in order to get to the edible white nut inside. Watermelons are unfortunately studded with little black seeds that are not pleasant to bite on.  Bees make honey but they also sting people, and so on.  In nature the upsides often come with downsides.  But there is an important difference between coconuts and TV commercials.  TV commercials are not a naturally occuring phenomenon.  In fact they are wholly unnatural.  There is no human need for them.  For the most part people don't like them or want to watch them. After an established fifty plus year track record it is safe to say that TV advertising is pernicious, destructive and hated.  Any sane person of sober mind would undoubtedly agree that TV commercials should be abolished.  

Television should be for people. It should be about people.  It should benefit the public, not the ethically crippled profiteers who feed on our minds, bodies and cash.  Television as a technology has the potential to reach, teach and inform.  It could also facilitate two way communication as opposed to passive one way output,  allowing people at both the local and national levels to actually talk back and to participate and do interesting things, even paradigm changing things.
For instance, we could use the TV for voting. We could stop voting for personalities that pretend to represent us and instead we could directly vote on the issues that affect our lives ourselves.  We could do that and actually have a say in how things are done around here. TV could be a people empowering technology that makes us stronger, smarter, wiser, more knowlegeable than we have ever thought possible. TV could lift the whole world higher. But no.  Instead, the commercial TV product makes people passive and stupid, disconnected from reality, insecure and covetous.  It addicts, disables and disempowers people, turning their brains to mush while making corporations richer through carpet bombing the human psyche with unmitigated idiocy and scientifically perfected mechanisms to undermine and destroy the capacity of people to think for themselves at all.  TV is nothing more than a tool of exploitation of all of our people so that the rich and powerful can get richer and more powerful and maintain an ever increasing control over all of our lives to an extent that is truly horrifying.  It's really quite rude.

When I say things like that to those who are still asleep they look at me like I'm crazy.  They don't deny what I'm saying they just don't see it as that big a deal.  They are sure that they are too smart to be affected by anything on the TV set, programs or otherwise.  They feel informed and in control and are not concerned about what I'm saying.  By the same token they don't know anything about the economy or history or what their dearly elected are doing.  They often don't even know the name of the vice president or for that matter the names of their alleged representatives.  They can't name or describe a single piece of legislation that has ever been on the table or was passed into law and don't pay the slightest attention to all things political.  They can however tell you all about Bart Simpson, sports, their favorite soft drinks, the Oprah show and their favorite places to shop and go out to eat, what the kids want to buy and have and do and with rare exception no one in their family ever picks up a book or considers reading or taking a trip to the library.  They think I'm funny for even bringing it up.

To them I am the disconnected one.  I am the one who does not see the way and the light.  They are plugged in to "the happening" as it unfolds each day and is presented to them.  They know who's who and what's hot and what's not.  They know the latest movie that everyone wants to see and the newest cool cell phone model and all about cell phone plans and costs.  They know all of the pop stars and all of the popular songs, the TV shows and TV stars and hottest people and movies out of Hollywood.  When they turn on the car radio they enjoy listening to it while I can't stand the car radio for two seconds because it is sheer insanity.  Insanity is the norm in this country.  Insanity is good.  Insanity is fun.  Insanity for one and all is the goal and the reason for living.  Plug in to the insanity and join the insanity collective and you can be normal too.

Here's the thing.  There is no such thing as "the happening".  It is all an illusion.  It is believed to be real because it is an ongoing story that people identify with.  People live their lives vicariously through identifying with an externally generated stream of illusion.  They take their identities, perspectives and values from an externally generated, pervasive, all encompasing, non stop, 24 hours a day, illusion stream.  It feels real to them.  It is real to them.

Take away the TV set, the movies, the advertising, the pop stars, the radio, shut it all off.  Now tell me who you are.  Tell me what is real.  Tell me what matters now.   

A shock of silence happens when the external bombast of the mass media collective is removed from conscious awareness.  Attention is abruptly focused within instead of everywhere else except within.  In that silence you can hear yourself think.  Only in that silence can you hear yourself at all.  The question is, can you stand it?  

Can you stand hearing your own mind and no other voices?  Can you sit in silence and think?  Can you bear being all by yourself?  Have you ever considered doing something on your own, without anybody else being with you?  Does the very idea of being alone frighten you?

If you feel that being disconnected from everything happening out there would be horrible and unbearable and that you'd feel lost and alone and wouldn't know what was going on and wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do with yourself, then I have a question for you.  Do you actually exist?

Would there still be a "you" if you were blocked off from all of those external things and other people?  Do you exist as a unique individual with your own identity and ideas that come from yourself and are not dependent on what anybody else thinks or says?  Who are you?  Do you know?  Do you know what the meaning of your life is? Do you care about what it means to exist in a world floating in space, or why you are here, or why it matters?  Does it even matter to you?

I can't show you proof to support this, but my guess is that most people ask themselves questions about meaning fairly early in life.  Around the time we're becoming teenagers we start to wonder about things like why we exist and where we come from and what it all means.  This is the time when we stop being Mom and Dad's little acorn, a product of the trees they are, and we start to become a tree of our own.

The first thing a tree has to do is set down roots.  Unless and until it can do that it can't do much growing.  If the spot it tries to grow its roots into isn't optimal for growth then it won't become a big strong tree.  It might not die but it will be limited in its growth and will likely come out small and scraggly and unable to produce much, if anything at all.   

You are a tree.  I am a tree.  We are all trees.  The difference is that we can decide when and where to grow our roots and just as important, what we want to use as our life's ground.  Whatever we grow out of will be the foundation of everything about us. What we grow into and become is inextricably linked to that foundation.  The roots I am speaking of are not physical, they are mental.  The roots of our mind will determine who we are.  

It's easy to see how plugging in to the collective mass media illusion seems like an easy and obvious way out of facing up to and dealing with the questions of identity and meaning churning around in the turmoil of everything else inside us.  It's also very difficult to ignore the mass media or avoid it.  It's as if there are enormous flat screens floating over our heads at every moment of our lives depicting the ongoing stories, the illusions, of the collective. We have no control over what is projected nor are we a part of its story.  We don't personally know any of the familiar people on its screens or anything about them and yet we feel as if we do know them and they feel like real and authentic people to us who are somehow a part of our lives.  Nothing on the screens are our own story and nothing we see and hear has anything to do with our lives; but there it is anyway and the people projected there are glamorous and beautiful, wealthy and successful.  They are cool, they are right, they are popular, or authoritative, or extreme or geeks or they're angry, rebellious, fighting back, lashing out, being stalked by a lunatic with a chain saw, having sex with everybody and anybody, there is always somebody up there to identify with.  Whether we know it or not or like it or not we will emulate these illusory people.  We will dress like they dress and try to look like they look.  We will say the things they say and behave as they behave.  They are our illusory role models, digital projections who are not even real, but we don't think about that.  We just take it in as our reality.

If the collective mass media becomes the soil we put down our roots into then illusion becomes the foundation that supports our world view.  Illusion becomes the source of our personal identity. And illusion becomes what interests us most.  Life is easy to understand because all questions are already answered, all values are already assigned, and everything is pre-labelled, pre-chewed, pre-discovered and provided.  Life becomes effortless.  All you have to do is choose.  Choose an identity and go buy the accessories that go with it.  Life is but a dream.

Nothing in the illusion can answer our questions of meaning, self worth or true identity.  No illusion can supply the real meaning that is the only soil we can grow in.  Even our growth is an illusion.  Our thoughts and opinions are based on illusions, along with our self image and ideas about everything in the world.  Our thoughts, feelings and values about these things don't come from our own tree, they come from a tree of illusions and we are only pretending they belong to us and are us.  We will never feel whole or satisfied without answering those questions ourselves.  Those questions will be like sneakers in the dryer of our minds, banging around waiting to be pulled out and dealt with.  If we ignore them long enough or talk ourselves out of paying attention to them, eventually we won't hear them anymore.  If we fear facing those questions, if we avoid them, deny them, or tell ourselves that they are proof that we are not like everybody else and we must hide them or nobody will respect us anymore, then eventually we will learn to successfully block out the noise they make inside our minds.  It is a choice.  Listening to our truth within, or choosing the collective mind.  We can choose reality and truth and grow ourselves, which is plenty interesting and rewarding. Or we can opt to allow exciting and beautiful illusions to define us.  We can let other people form our mind, construct our self image, think for us, and make us believe that we are no more than what they want us to be.  If we allow the illusion stream to define us then our life is an illusion and we will be entirely unequipped to handle reality when it inevitably rears it's terrifying head and vomits into our lap.  

Please, if you have kids, pull the damn plug on the TV.  Don't let your kids sit in front of the thing morning, noon and night.  They still have a slim chance to exist for real, not as an illusion.  I don't know what life will be like when nothing is real anymore. The day is coming.  In fact, it's pretty much here.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Politically Correct

Are you, or is anyone you know, Politically Correct?  
If so, you may want to consider the consequences.

Consequences, you say?  What consequences? 

Well, how about this one.  Being politically correct runs the serious risk of you reducing yourself to a junk yard dog for the Thought Police.  Are you the property of the Thought Police?  Are they your masters? 

No, you say.  I am no one's property but my own. 

Oh really. 
Well here's a test. 

You hear someone saying, "I am against all of this illegal immigration.  I absolutely believe when illegal immigrants are caught they should be deported back to where they came from".   

Or, "I can't stand homosexuals.  They make me sick.  They are all going to go to hell".

Upon hearing these things, how do you react?  If you are a junk yard dog of the Thought Police, your reaction will be something like this:

"Woof!"  "Woof Woof!"  "There is somebody thinking incorrect thoughts!  How revolting they are!  I despise them! They must be corrected!  I will go tell them how despicable they are and let them know they are not okay with me!  I am entitled to do this because my masters told me so".

If you are not a junk yard dog of the Thought Police your reaction would be more along these lines:

"Whether I agree with them or not, everybody is entitled to their own opinion".

Which of these reactions is closest to your own way of thinking? 

This is no small thing.  You may honestly believe that your politically correct opinions are your own, but they may not be.  The more adamant you are about your popular politically correct opinion the more likely it is that your opinion is really not your own.  The more intolerant you are of other people's viewpoints and opinions, the more likely it is that you have been brainwashed into holding your politically correct opinion.  To put it simply, you have been cultified.  You have been Jim Jonesed. You are no longer you.  You are the property of the Thought Police and will spend years of your life barking at, snarling at, attacking and reporting on anyone you run across who is thinking unauthorized thoughts.  Is that really something you set out to be?   An intolerant attack dog of the Thought Police? 

Do you believe that what other people think needs to be policed?  Do you believe that people with viewpoints other than your own are automatically bad?  Do differing viewpoints offend you and make you angry?  If so, why?

If I like yellow and you like blue does it take anything away from you?  No it does not.  The same is true even if I am a racial separatist.  A militia member.  A neo nazi.  A felon.  Even if I question the holocaust.  Even if I am a Muslim, or an atheist, or a Christian or a Jew.  Even if I'm a liberal or a conservative.  The nature of the difference is irrelevant.  I can feel 100% different about a barrel full of things than you do and it will not affect you in any way.  It does not take anything from you.  It does not prevent you from having your own thoughts and feelings and viewpoints.  You will retain everything that is rightfully yours.  It is not a threat to you in any way when I see things differently than you do.

My thoughts and opinions, viewpoints and beliefs have nothing to do with you.  These are a part of my identity and I have every right to them, as much right as you have to yours.  My beliefs coexist in this world with your beliefs, there is no problem here.  So why then should you feel offended and angry at my rightful opinion?  You could only feel offense and anger if you are intolerant of other people's rightful opinions.  Your intolerance is a form of aggression against me.  You want to use force to try to take away what is rightfully mine.  Now which of us is wrong?  Who is harming who?

The simple reality is that everyone has their own thoughts and feelings and these are not up to anyone else to determine.  I feel and think what I feel and think, and so do you.  There is nothing wrong with this, it is normal and healthy and necessary.  The one thing any of us have to offer is our own unique way of seeing things.  It behooves us to listen to each other.  If we don't agree it doesn't mean anything.  It is not a reason to become enemies or to fight. 

If we try to understand each other's position we will probably be able to understand why we feel the way we do.  Once we understand why certain feelings and beliefs are held we can see that there are reasons behind them, that it's not just senseless or hateful thinking.  It may be misguided or mistaken, but we can understand that if we saw what they saw, we would feel the way they feel.  This is not a crime.  If we honestly care about justice and peace then we are obligated to make the effort to understand other people's positions.

Once we understand each other, we can see the bigger picture.  We don't have to agree or  embrace each other's beliefs.  We can retain our individuality totally, but we can at least understand why we feel the way we do.  We can see it is not a threat to us.  We can simply agree to disagree.  We can still be on courteous terms, we could even go out to lunch with each other.  This is a good outcome.  If we are civilized people we want a good outcome.  We want to be able to get along with everyone we can.  All it takes is some tolerance, some respect, and to make the effort to understand why other people see things the way they do.  If we do this the odds of experiencing good outcomes and improved relationships are much improved.  We can still respect the person but disagree with their opinion.   We must make room for one another because the alternative is destruction.  Will we kill our way to happiness?  It doesn't work that way.  It never has and it never will. 

If we don't even try to understand someone else then how can we judge them?  If we don't understand why someone else sees things so very differently than we do, then we do not know the whole story.  We only know our own side of the story.  It is always a terrible mistake to tell ourselves that only our side of the story is the whole story.  It is not.  As long as there is someone else involved then they have a side of the story too.  To ignore it or dismiss it without listening and apply our judgment to them is evil.  That's right.  It is sheer evil. 

It is evil because we don't care about knowing the truth.  When we don't care about what the truth is, then we are lost in dishonesty.  We are dishonest with our own selves.  Who can we be without truth?  What will we become when we don't care what the whole truth is?  Can we become wise and just when we don't care about truth?  No. We can only become ignorant and unfair when we care more about protecting our own position than we care about understanding the positions of everyone involved.  This is the only way we can get to the whole truth.

But what do we do when somebody is saying something that we strongly disagree with? 

Until you develop skills like tact and humor, there is only one acceptable way to respond, and that is to shut up.  If you are incapable of letting someone have their opinion then the problem is with you, not with them.  They are not doing anything wrong.  They are not doing anything "to you".  If however you attack them for their thoughts and feelings then you are definitely out of line.  You have no right to batter anyone with your fists or your words.  After all, who the hell are you and what makes you better or right or anything else?  You have no right to dictate what others must think or feel.  You wouldn't appreciate someone doing that to you, would you?  Then don't do it to anyone else.  If you truly can't tolerate what someone else is saying then leave.  Be polite, but walk away.  It's really that simple. 

Ostensibly, you hold your strong politically correct opinion because you want the world to be a better place.  But if you truly want the world to be a better place then you must instinctively know that we can't get there through violence, abuse and anger.  We have to learn to accept one another as is and never make the mistake of stepping on people by dictating to them what they must think and feel.  They are capable of doing their own thinking and feeling.  It is not our place to dictate anything to anyone else.  Policing other people's opinions is not our job. 

What our job is, is to learn how to handle it.  Gracefully.  Fairly.  Objectively.  Respectfully.  That is, if that is the kind of world you want to live in.  If that is the way you would like to be treated.  If it is, then you had better treat others that way, and not just when it's easy but when it's hard.  That's when it matters most. That's how we make real changes in this world, changes for the better.  When we are fair with people.  When we show respect for people by making human life more important than being right.  When we make sure to preserve other people's dignity when interacting with them and don't feel entitled to tear into anyone for what they believe.  There is no such right, I don't care what your cause is or how strongly you feel about it. 

Understand, this is not about what other people think, this is about you.  This is about who you are.  This is about the kind of person you are.  Are you a good and decent person?  Then act like one.  If you behave like a bully, like a junk yard dog of the thought police, then that is what you are.  That is not being a good and decent person.  That is being oppressive and controlling, judgmental and small minded.  Hello?  Think about it. 

Letting other people be who they are is the most powerful truth in the world.  Let them be who they are.  Let each of us decide for ourselves what we think.  If we don't do that, if we slam doors in people's faces, if we treat them with disrespect because of their beliefs, we are bringing misery into this world.  We are bringing resentment and injustice into the world.  We are forcing the creation of separation between equal beings, making some "good" and others "bad".  This is wrongful and destructive.  It does not make the world better, it makes things harder for everyone.  These are the seeds of war.  What do you help by planting them?

It is so important to show respect to everyone, it is absolutely necessary.  That we disagree with them is irrelevant, that is never grounds to treat people with disrespect or cruelty.  How could it be?  What nonsense.  We are not the end all and be all of the world, no one is.  We are not special, no one is.  We are all equal beings.  We all count.  Regardless of whether or not WE happen to agree or disagree with anyone else we are still equal beings and we still deserve to be treated with respect. 

As long as we can agree to disagree, we can find a way to get along.  It is only when somebody somewhere decides they must have their way and refuses to show a basic respect for others that everything comes apart.  That is when violence begins. Injustice, cruelty, torture, imprisonment, intolerance, taking sides, name calling, nasty lies, manipulations... all of the things that tear relationships, friendships, and nations apart.

Everyone deserves to be heard. 
Every side must be given equal time to tell its portion of the story.
All sides must be considered before we can draw conclusions about anything.
It is far better to assume that everyone is at least partially right, rather than to assume only you are right.  When everyone has a valid viewpoint, when everyone is right, we are much more likely to work together to find answers than we are if we refuse to acknowledge that other people actually have reasons for feeling what they do.

Political correctness is a lie.  It is exactly the opposite of what it pretends to be.  Political correctness is a method of controlling the minds of others.  It is oppressive and deceptive.  It turns people into monsters.  It broadcasts orders to attack others, to behave with incredible selfishness and intolerance, it makes people feel entitled to behave rudely.  What is "correct" anyway?  Correct is different depending on the people looking at the equation.  To be so arrogant as to presume that you are automatically correct and no one else can be correct is dishonest at best, and fascistic at its core.  If you believe in freedom then being politically correct is a total contradiction.  It can only be one or the other.  Either you believe in freedom or you believe that people must be controlled by force.  Which is it?

If what someone else is saying makes you want to get in their face or hurl labels at them like racist, or denier, then you must stop yourself and ask yourself one question, "What's it to me what somebody else thinks?"   Is it your problem what they think?  No. Is it within your control to make them think otherwise?  No. Is it your right to dictate to them what they should believe?  No.   Are you responsible for what anyone else thinks?  No.  Then why are you carrying their luggage?  Let them carry their own luggage while you relax.  It's not yours to worry about.

You must accept that you have no power to change anyone but yourself.  You cannot make people see things differently, at least not by attacking or disrespecting them.  They will definitely not consider your perspective if you show no respect for theirs.  You get back what you put out and if you put out a brick in the face don't expect hugs in return. 

It is also worth questioning why you feel the need to be so controlling of others.  If you're losing friends over disagreements in matters of opinion, maybe you need to look at you for a change.  Maybe you need to mind your own business instead of somebody else's business for a change.  Why do you expect anyone to embrace your position in lieu of their own when all you do is come at them with insults and disrespect?  You are only throwing gasoline on the fire when you do that, and yet you expect them to forfeit their honest beliefs and step over to your way of thinking?  Is that silly or what?

No matter who anyone is, or what they think, treat them with the same respect you want to be treated with.  It is never about them, it is always about you.  Your behavior is all you have control over, are you doing your best?  Really?  Is showing off your intolerance for others something to take pride in?  Or is understanding that everyone has equal rights to their beliefs something to take pride in?  I'd say it's the latter.

Anyone can be intolerant in the name of some greater good.  Just like the Spanish Inquisition.  Be careful who your masters are.  If you don't you will soon find yourself steeped in hate and self-righteousness even as you claim to be against them. 

Bottom line:  don't ever let anyone else tell you what to think.  Think for yourself.  And when you get to the point that you can defend someone else's right to their opinion, even though you disagree with what they're saying, then you'll have done more to do good in this world than you'll ever know.