Thursday, November 23, 2006

Patterns all around you

This will be the third time I've started this blog. It's difficult to find the words I'm looking for, and that's not my fault. Over the past few years, our language has been commandeered by those who wish to reshape the United States into a nation more easily manipulated than it has been in the past. Nonetheless, I feel a certain duty to keep trying until I succeed here. Let us begin. Again.

I see patterns around me every single day--patterns which I cannot ignore. I see the people of America being subtly trained and changed into a nation of slaves. Our current political administration are using tactics common to raising small children, or children with personality disorders. I work in a public school, and twice a month, I sit in on day-long training meetings in which the teachers educate one another on the finer points of education this nation's children.

Some of the presentations that always catch my attention are those given by our SPED (Special Education) team. These teachers have chosen to work with those children who suffer from autism, ADD, and other learning disabilities. They are often difficult to teach, as they tend to bring chaos into the classroom. They refuse to participate in schoolwork and even the day-to-day social interactions which other students take to automatically.

One of the most successful techniques in dealing with SPED children is to offer them two choices, where both choices result in the student doing exactly what the teacher wants him or her to do.

For example, a SPED teacher will offer a difficult student two choices when he or she is not getting work done. The student is told that a) he can do his math exercises, or b) he can do his reading assignment. This gives the child the illusion of choice and makes him or her believe that he or she is in control of the situation. It is (or should be) obvious to the reader that this is simply not the case. The illusion of choice gives the illusion of control; the student is pacified enough to do what the teacher wants done.

I see this psychological tactic being used upon my fellow citizens with alarming regularity. For example, we are told to choose between:

* Republican or Democrat,
* Left-wing or Right-wing,
* Support our troops or be a supporter of terrorism,
* "You're either with us or against us",
* Support the President or the terrorists win,
* Vote Republican or the terrorists will rejoice,

And on and on and on. I can't be the only one seeing this, can I?

Another tactic used by the SPED teachers is to create a daily routine with the special-needs students. Repitition breeds order--sublty forcing the student to perform the same actions at the same times each day will eventually train the student that this is normal behavior. Any previous behavior the student has brought with him- or herself into the classroom is eventually forgotten. In its place: the daily schedule created by the teacher and taught to the student via simple (yet constant) repetition.

I see my fellow citizens being trained in this manner as well, through simple capitalistic greed. We are constantly bombarded by images of people wealthier, prettier and more successful than we are. Through advertising and "entertainment news" (which is my new favorite oxymoron), we are taught that, in order to get ahead in the world, we need to make X amount of dollars. We need to purchase Brand X vehicles, Brand Y clothing and Brand Z electronics. As a result, we work harder, we work more and longer hours, and we do so for less pay. We are unable to keep up with the demands we think are our own, but are, in reality, force-fed to us through simple repetition via advertising and what passes for "news" nowadays.

Without thinking, we work longer hours in the hope that eventually we will get a raise or a bonus or a promotion. While we're waiting for that golden ring (which rarely, if ever, comes within reach), we buy more on credit. We take out second and even third mortgages. We stretch ourselves to the absolute limits of our financial capabilities, and then turn on the television and get told that, if we want to be successful, we need to sell our car and buy a Hummer instead.

I live in one of those forced suburbs. You may know what I mean: Street after street and row after row of identical McMansions, all overpriced, and all within ten feet of one another. Thankfully, I'm only renting, but I drive home from work and notice that sometimes, my neighbors will accidentally leave their blinds open, allowing me a brief, drive-by glimpse into their homes and their lives. Their McMansions are immaculate on the outside--perfect, weed-free lawns, immaculate paint jobs, and all the right lawn accessories in all the right places. Parked out front, I see their immaculate automobiles and SUVs, washed and waxed to a mirror-like sheen.

And, when I look in the window, I see nothing. No bookshelves. No art upon the walls. Hardly any furniture besides a couch placed directly in front of the plasma TV they're probably still paying off. They've stretched their credit to the limit, and are unable to afford anything that isn't a status symbol of some sort.

No one smiles in my neighborhood. No one waves and says "hi" when you drive by. Everyone has their head down and their brows furrowed, as if the emptiness of their lives and their bank accounts is weighing them down every second of every day of their lives. They're all unhappy, and have no idea why. After all, they bought all the things they were told to buy in order to be happy. But every time they turn on the plasma TV, it shows them something else they "need" to be successful. Every time they change a channel, the bar gets raises, and they try to clear the new bar.

Just as the teachers in my school train the SPED students to conform to a normal school day, so do the companies of this country train its citizens to work harder for less pay, go home and forget their troubles by turning on their TV, and drive themselves further into debt by chasing the American Dream others have created for them.

The businesses in this nation have trained the American People through advertising. The employers have trained us as well--work without complaint, for there are always others in the wings willing to work for less than what you make, and willing to work longer hours to make it.

You're expendable. You're a failure if your neighbor has a bigger car or TV than you have. How do you know these things? Because you're told. Every time you turn on the TV. Every time you look out your window and covet your neighbor's belongings. Every day of your life.

Why are we so easily fooled by these simple tactics? Because we're drugged. This entire nation is drugged by two things: Television and prescription drugs.

We come home from a hard day's work and decide we need to unwind in front of the TV. We sit there for hours, staring at a flickering screen, being programmed constantly by everything from sitcoms to reality television to the news. After awhile, even this fails to comfort us. That voice inside us all--the voice of reason; the instinct that something is terribly, terribly wrong, begins speaking to us. But we don't listen. It suggests to us that we're failing at life, that we're not happy because we're not doing a good enough job in the Rat Race.

So what do we do? We medicate. Many of us self-medicate through alcohol. For others, that isn't enough, so we turn to the giant pharmaceutical companies for relief. How many anti-depressents are currently on the market? If you know, please comment below. Honestly, I've lost count altogether. I read a few weeks back that one of the top three (I can't recall right now if it's second or third) causes of death is prescription medication. And yet we still go to the doctor. It's so much easier to take a pill once a day than it is to sit down and figure out how to make life more enjoyable, isn't it?

And so we get up, go to work, come home, take our meds, and sit down in front of the TV for our nightly programming. Because it's been proven in tests conducted over the past fifty years that mind-altering drugs plus simple, repetitious images equals brainwashing. No matter how entertaining it may be.

In Haiti, plantation owners used to poison the poor with herbs and concoctions which made them appear dead. Once the victim was buried, they would dig him back up and put him to work in the fields, keeping him drugged constantly so he didn't have enough wits about him to realize he was simply slave labor. America has been similarly poisoned and put to work, drugged every day through TV (and it's demands that we buy more, more, more to be happy) and prescription drugs to take the edge off our increasingly difficult lives. We are trained to do two things:

1. Go to work to make money, and
2. Go home and be told what to spend it on

America needs to turn off the TV, flush the meds down the toilet, sit down and be brutally honest with herself. We need to stop running from what we know in our hearts as truth. We need to realize that we're nothing but serfs for these companies--slave labor to generate more profit to give them more leverage with foreign corporations. This is a global game they're playing, and we are the pawns on their chessboard. Why do you think we have NAFTA and the WTO?

If we don't stop measuring our lives by the yardstick which is rammed daily down our collective throat, this will never, ever end. The lives we live now will be the lives we will endure until we die. Each and every one of us needs to stop and think for a moment. I will warn you: these won't be pleasant thoughts, nor will they be easy to swallow (certainly not as easy as the antidepressents we're swallowing daily). Our natural instinct will be to drive these unpleasant thoughts from our minds, and go back to the TV. That's exactly what they want.

My father always said, "you don't learn anything from being right all the time", and he was correct. We learn only from our failures, not our successes. If you've chosen to follow the crowd and keep up with the Joneses, you've made a terrible mistake. Own up to your mistake, look into the heart of it, and learn. Learn what needs to be done to correct the mistake, and learn it to the point that you never, ever do it again. If not for yourself, do it for your children. Children learn how to be adults from their parents. Your children are, as we speak, learning to become a good little serf, whose only real purpose in life is to make the rich richer. It's time for you to break the patterns others have made for you.

Free yourself.


Anonymous Chris Williams said...

While I agree with your points about consumer zombism and the over medication of America, I think your article is kind of general and alarmist.
What about people who are seriously mentally ill (bi-polar, manic depression,schizophrenic, etc.)that could benefit from medication?
What about people who have rare genetic disorders that DO benefit from the discoveries of drug corporations?
What about the millions of Americans that benefit from being employed in a capitalist society? Sure they go into debt and buy useless shit, but what about the other shit their employment buys, like food for their family, a house to live in, medical insurance, charity, etc? That's a hell of a lot more options than the Russians had under Stalin or the Chinese have under the administration left over from the days of Mao Ze Dong.
I'm not trying to troll or insult you about your post. I thank you for a very stimulating article. I just wanted to post some points for debate.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some things should cheer you. The fact that a page like this could be used to collect email and personal information from the almost hopeless, but charitable, thereby freeing you through blackmail to elevate your status or at least hound someone for amusement for a while. ;-p (Seriously, change your page color!) Or the fact that, like almost any dynamic, stable system, if the shift is great enough it will change directions radically. Or that people will come to realize that the only way they made it, and do appreciate what they do, is from the ones they love.

Any end-result that should worry you, of the hearts and minds of people, at least in the extreme edges of the reach of such things, will reach towards the structure far more than the people. Countries, for perhaps much less and more severe reasons, have always been toppled from top down. Countries come and go, it is the people that last.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A one-in-a-hundred great post sitting here since November 23 without a single comment..(makes me wonder if this battle is already lost, faceless..)

Just wanted to tell you there is at least 1 other human that agrees with you.


Greetings from Spain.

5:33 PM  
Blogger lotus14 said...

Ah yes, here we are at the pinnacle of civilization...the American work and watch TV way of life. We work harder, make more, spend more. Just as we are taught. And we are not very happy.

You make it clear what we should not do...but never mention an alternative. How should we "correct the mistake?"

7:58 PM  
Blogger Roland19d said...

Pardon the following as I ramble when I write but I just read your post and wanted to comment.

I "feel" truth in some of your examples of the American public being presented with 2 choices as an illusion of control, more so in the political arena then in any other. I have voted for independent candidates, even in presidential elections, before and will continue to do so. The people I have told this to generally look at me as though I have grown a third head and am speaking to them through it. I didn't vote for these candidates because I thought they were insightful or brilliant leaders, I voted for them simply because I believe the two-party system in this country no longer works. If that is "wasting my vote", so be it but the only way to change what I perceive to be a problem is to act upon it. Which brings me around to my original point - if you don't like the circumstances of your life... change it but please don't presume that what is a problem for you is also a problem for others (medicating, watching too much TV, etc).

It's funny that I stumbled across your blog when I did. This past week, my wife and I had a conversation on a related theme. She is a school psychologist for an affluent county school system. I will not presume to be an expert on the public education system because of this fact but I do often get numerous examples of how well-meaning legislation like "No Child Left Behind" is inherently flawed simply by asking the question, "How was your day?" but I digress.

The problem as I see it is not that we as a nation have been brainwashed into being subservient chattel for corporations. This country was founded on capitalism. The driving reason why the US has led other nations (and God willing will continue to lead other nations) is capitalism. The primary focus of major policies within the US have always been driven by economics (good and bad, just like Central and South America in that later part of the 19th and early 20th century). The problem as I see it is that our democracy is failing simply because we as a nation are placing individual rights above those of the majority. Why are not only special education teachers but regular education teachers spending 90% of their time with the “problem” 2% of the classroom children? Why is disciplining a child within schools a thing of the past? Answer: it’s federally mandated and the schools have a distinct and palpable fear of lawsuits. This coupled with the idea that we, as a citizen of the United States, are entitled to whatever we want whenever we it are lethal combination.

I've always heard that you should never complain about something unless you have a solution to the problem. I’ve always tried to subscribe to this. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this one. The only solution I can think of would involve wiping ALL case law out and starting from scratch with only the barest guidelines to go by. I'm sure lawyers would love to hear this.

12:06 PM  

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