Contrary to what you might believe, the System does not exist for the convenience or the well-being of the individuals that comprise the System (aka ‘society’). It exists for the convenience of itself. It exists to control the individual members in order to fulfill its own agenda. The beauty of it, from its own perspective (as if it were a Thing, for the purpose of the point I’m making), is that it doesn’t need to put any effort into controlling us because we do that on its behalf. We control ourselves and we control each other. We collude in our own enslavement. Never mind the lunatics taking over the asylum; the slaves have taken over – nay, created – the plantation. We are our own despots.
The System’s agenda is to repress our natural inclinations, our freedom of self-expression, our joie de vivre. And we collude in this repression. The joke is: there is no Agenda because the System does not exist as an entity independently of the individuals that comprise it, and it therefore has no means of creating an agenda. We have created this agenda of repression ourselves. We have enslaved ourselves in the name of a figment of our collective imagination. We repress ourselves for no good reason apart from avoiding the censure of our fellows, who likewise believe in this fallacy. We contort our natural selves in order to fit into an artificial model that doesn’t actually exist. We are idiots. To paraphrase (as I have done before, on these occasions) Johnny Rotten in God Save the Queen: “the system makes us morons”. He is an astute fellow.
And to quote the sociologist Clifford Geertz: “Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.”
For the most part, it’s not a pretty picture. The tools we use against ourselves and each other are fear, shame and guilt. Fear of consequences. Fear of censure. Fear of exclusion.
Ironically, most of us claim to be on the side of love (ha!), but when we manage our lives, and manipulate the actions of others, through the methods of fear, hate, shame and guilt, we are not acting from a position of love in any way, shape or form. There is a word for people who act with hate towards themselves and towards others: sado-masochists.
If we were truly loving people, we would be tolerant of other people’s opinions and other people’s lifestyle choices, even when they differ from our own opinions and choices. But few are so tolerant, and many believe themselves justified to persecute or criticise in response.
You may wonder what I’m on about. You may say: “None of that applies to me or anyone I know.” True, many are nice and polite with smiling faces, habitually ready to help others in need. But what happens when someone – anyone – does something that offends their sensibilities? Does their niceness fly out the window? Are they quick to judge, to criticise? Do they and all their nice friends gossip about other people’s short-comings? Do they gleefully trade vitriolic condemnations with their holier-than-though buddies? Are they quick to call for the hangman or the firing squad? And, do they believe such behaviour is proof of their moral superiority, as if the more they hate other people’s ‘bad’ behaviour the more ‘good’ that makes them appear in contrast? Does such activity even make them proud of themselves? Many have honed the skills of social protocol yet beneath their ‘civilized’ facade is a viper’s nest of negative attitude and prejudice, and harsh condemnation of others is just a breath away.
To be fair, though, there’s not really much choice. None of us were born with beliefs. We acquired them. They’re like pirates on our ship and our captain (our soul, if you like) gets locked in the hold and develops a Stockholm Syndrome relationship with the usurpers. Elsewhere I’ve called these pirates ‘conquistadors’.
So, everyone does what everyone else does: pretends. We condemn others to prove we’re not like them, then adopt a superior attitude about our differences in order to feel better about the sense of inadequacy we’re hiding from the world. We pretend to be someone others will deem acceptable, admirable, respectable, loveable, to avoid their condemnation. And we hope we never get found out. But we live in constant fear of it.
What we fear most is exclusion from the group we identify with: family, peers, neighbourhood, society. And we are correct to be afraid of the consequences of being different from our herd (but not other herds – it’s good to be different from them – it’s proof of our superiority!), because the consequences may indeed be grave: we might easily be ostracised, pilloried, ridiculed, persecuted, imprisoned, sectioned, medicated… and more. If we follow a different religion we might even be labelled a ‘terrorist’ (without trial if you happen to be accused by the American government) and be tortured or hunted down and executed without any evidence being sufficiently analysed. It is therefore no wonder that fear is such an effective means of control.
Why do we do this to ourselves and each other? It’s seems barmy. Are we bonkers? Well, we do it in all innocence, because we are too ignorant to see what we are doing (except for the few who have become enlightened to this understanding). We allow ourselves to be indoctrinated into believing that the beliefs of the System are right, good, just and holy.
In fairness to us, we are not deliberately ignorant. We are infants when the indoctrination begins, and it is done by people we trust and worship: parents, teachers, tv personalities, etc. They believe themselves to be right and they convince us of it, too. And the rot began millennia ago and is pervasive.
It’s the meaning behind the parable of the Garden of Eden, which is not about sex, by the way – unless you choose to perceive it that way, which is your free choice. Or is it? How can we have free choice about our thoughts and feelings about sex when our mind has been corrupted by the pornographic attitude our culture has about sex? This goes for all mind conditioning: our minds have been filled with the attitudes of our culture and we therefore have little choice about what we think, unless we re-educate ourself, which we are only likely to do if we recognise what a dodgy education we had as a child.
(The parable about The GoE, as I see it, is about the development of ideas about good and bad and the resulting loss of peace of mind: Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge. It is the opposite of enlightenment; it is a plunging into darkness. That, for me, is the meaning of the metaphor of mankind’s expulsion from the paradise of innocence.)
We are trained for conflict from the moment we pop out of the womb. We are are trained in the “I am right, you are wrong” philosophy. We are trained to judge – harshly – anyone who is different from us. We are trained to feel justified in persecuting people who don’t hold the same opinions as we do and who live their lives differently from how we do. We make them into enemies and then believe ourselves to be their victims, which gives us the justification for persecuting them in the name of self-defence. Government is instrumental in this fear-based belief system – if we perceive ourselves to be under threat from an enemy we will look to them for our salvation and not question their covert, nefarious activities.
The thing is: we don’t know the true nature of reality. Science has proved precious little and religion is just a collection of stories. All we have is opinion. When the majority believe in something we call it popular opinion. And most people believe that if a large number of people believe something it must be true. But it’s not. It’s just popular opinion. We persecute each other over popular opinion.
For heaven’s sake, isn’t it time we stopped behaving like half-witted idiots? Like morons. Zombies.
On this subject, Eckhart Tolle says: “The human mind, in its desire to know, understand, and control, mistakes its opinions and viewpoints for the truth.” Note the use of the word mistake. He also says: “Almost every ego contains at least an element of what we might call ‘victim identity’. Resentment and grievances form an essential part of their sense of self.”
This individual mindset – manipulated not just by governments but the media who want you to buy their product or watch their tv programmes – together form a collective cultural identity of fear, insecurity and victimhood. When you take these mistaken belief systems and combine them with an attitude of intolerance, an attitude of entitlement to persecute and a victim mentality, you get… for example … a ‘War on Terror’.
But, here is where we should be aware of ourselves: we created this war ourselves. We invented our enemies and then they came to visit us. We did this by demonising people who think and behave differently from us and then persecuting them. We in the West are the terrorists. We are the bullies of the world. People wonder why there is bullying in schools: it’s because our entire culture is framed around a mindset of control by bullying. Almost everyone uses bullying tactics, in one way or another, to get others to comply with their wishes: parents, teachers, police, governments, bosses, advertising… the list goes on. It’s often hidden because words rather than physical violence is used (and often the words include ‘love’); but when a threat of punishment is used to manipulate someone into to complying with another’s wishes, bullying has been employed as a means to an end. That is not love.
For those of us who recognise this appalling state of affairs, this nightmare we’ve allowed ourselves to be conned into believing is some sort of heaven (or would be if it weren’t for all those bad apples spoiling the brew, right?), how do we extricate ourselves from this matrix of fear and hate? How do we prevent ourselves from being controlled by draconian morals that are not designed to ensure our happiness but are designed to ensure our compliance? How do we live and love freely while knowing that we risk the derision of others, who believe themselves to be right, good and just, but are actually robots programmed by a manifesto that, by virtue of the fact that it has been constructed to cripple our spirits, is the opposite of what it purports to be? Evil, not good.
With great difficulty. With great difficulty.
If this Jesus dude was sacrificed to save us, it was all in vain, because nothing has changed in 2,000 years: self-righteous people are still dictating to others how to live and ruthlessly persecuting them, if they have the power (even if it’s in the form of vitriolic Facebook postings), for non-compliance.
I will – again – quote one of my favourite quotes, from August Strindberg:
angelic enquirer: Why was [Christ] crucified?
earthly respondent: Because he wanted to set people free, I think.
Who wanted to crucify him?
The great and the good, the law-abiding citizens and the hard-working families.
Note: Jesus’ message was about freedom.
Note: the people who supported the system of oppression were the oppressed.
Similarly, in The Matrix, Morpheus says to Neo: “You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
It takes courage to stand up and say “I will not be intimidated by the manifesto of repression I have been indoctrinated into.”
It takes courage to go against the grain, to not be cowed into believing what the crowd believes, to remove yourself from the matrix, to refuse to be a moron, to say that you will believe what your conscience directs you to believe, to love who your heart is drawn to, to be honestly expressive with your mood fluctuations even if others sometimes judge you to be ‘rude’… to be free.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be free? And to be unapologetic about it. Uncompromising. Unrepentent. How many of us have the guts for that, though? Not many, alas. Because almost all of us, to a man and a woman, are too cowardly.