in this dialogue i would like to engage with you to check your thinking…
I would like to engage with you, start a dialogue with you. I want you to be part of this book. I want to have a two way conversation with you, to involve you, the reader, even if you don’t want to be involved! Just listen to the quiet (or loud) voice in your head that says, “Nonsense, he’s talking rubbish”, or listen to yourself making instant judgements about what I have written. Whose voice is that? It’s not mine! It’s yours! We’ll discuss why this happens later but for now lets start our dialogue.
Imagine for a moment that you are a traveller from another planet, far far away, and you have travelled for many years in search of intelligent life on other planets. You live in a land some may call utopia, where people are happy in themselves, have plenty of food to eat, and don’t need stimulants to distract them. They know no violence, care for the planet, and don’t need religion because they are not afraid. They don’t kill animals for meat or sport, live in self sustaining communities, harness power from the sea, the sun and the wind, share resources, don’t need retail therapy, and are not blinded by desire or greed (phew that’s a lot of things.) This is a land where governments don’t exist, and there are no guns, armies, or generals. The oceans and rivers are clean and unpolluted this a planet where life is just about perfect.
STOP! Hang on. I can hear you already! It’s that little voice in your head saying:
“It’s not possible! He doesn’t know what he’s talking about! This is pure rubbish, why did I start to read this book? You have to have a government! Who’s going to control the people? What, no army? What if there was a war? No violence, impossible! No alcohol?”
Now, I am not here to talk about Utopian societies and how it is possible to create one, I just wanted you to hear that voice in your head, the “me,” the seemingly separate part of your brain which does a lot of internal chattering.
Try this now if you will. Listen carefully to these statements.
1. I am more likely to be robbed by a black man in the street.
2. Politicians are corrupt.
3. War is justified in certain circumstances to preserve peace.
4. If we didn’t have a police force I would be attacked and my house would be robbed by “bad” people.
5. I don’t like rich people.
6. Muslims are dangerous.
7. America is evil, they are trying to control the world.
8. Gypsies are bad people, they will try to steal everything from me.
9. Capitalism is bad for the world.
10. Multiculturalism is bad for my country.
11. Capitalism is good for the world.
12. My way of life is the best, I wouldn’t like to live in another country.
13. The terrorists want to kill me.
14. I must protect myself and my family from the world. It’s a very dangerous place.
15. I care about my position in society.
16. I am not materialistic, I just want to be comfortable.
You may be noticing something interesting happening here already. Some statements may have a positive impact on you (meaning that you have an instantaneous reaction to them) whilst others have a neutral effect. This is the first evidence of the conditioned mind – one that has been programmed by our parents, culture, memory, traditions, politicians, school, peer groups and media.
Not convinced? Good! We are inquiring on this together, so lets explore a little deeper.
When we are born what is in our mind?
There are many views on this, about genetic characteristics etc., but I prefer to think of the newborn brain as a blank sheet of paper – a sponge ready to soak up information. Do you think you had any view on specific types of people, cultures or politics when you were born? Did you have the need to protect yourself from the unknown? Of course you didn’t, and neither did I. So where did all this fear and prejudice come from? Would you really like to admit here that you don’t like pakistanis, or chinese people, err, just because, you know?
No, I don’t know, and neither do you probably. You see, the view we have of other people is created by those around us; those who are passing off second hand opinions of entire nations, and thinking they are very, very clever to have come up with this all on their own, surrounded by a group of followers who are laughing and agreeing. You know him; you may even be him.
Lets start by where we get these opinions from, shall we? Why don’t we like black people, white people, christians, muslims, americans, french, greeks, jews, germans or arabs? The list is limitless, because somewhere in the world somebody has something bad to say, not just about an individual person, but an entire nation!
Lets go back to our beginning. Where did our information come from?
Well, we were handed down beliefs and opinions from our parents and close family. And where did they get their views from? Of course, it was their parents and family, teachers, friends, co-workers, government, and media.
I think that’s a good start, don’t you?
When you are first born, your family, the ones who love you most, start conditioning you to think a certain way by filling your head with second hand prejudices, media views from thirty years ago, politicians views from the past, and generally anything that anybody important had to say on television or in the newspaper at some time in the past. If they don’t like something, then they see it as their absolute duty to make sure you not only understand it, but believe it without question; and for the children who do question, they should be prepared for a swift “Don’t question what I am saying, I am your father!”
“Don’t mix with those children, they’re not jewish”
“Always say your prayers”
“Don’t answer back, your mother knows best”
“Do this, think this, do that, don’t do that.”
It’s amazing we ever get past the age of five! Everything your parents teach you, they learnt from the past, yet they continue to force their conditioning onto you, a blank sheet, without any knowledge that what they are doing is harming you.
Now, whilst most of us would agree that 2 + 2 = 4, and that dogs go woof, and cats go miaow, what concerns us here is how easily influenced we are when we are young. As we love and trust our parents, we would never think they would be pass on faulty information to us – especially as we have no means of checking whether it is false, or not. So when you are young, it makes sense to accept what they say is true.
As you get older you do form your own opinions, but without your knowledge, the foundations have already
been laid, the conditioning is almost complete.
Culture, tradition, religion, teachers, media and parents are all involved in your conditioning to behave a certain way. Now I am not saying that you are being conditioned to do wrong, in fact, quite the opposite. Most of us would agree that some conditioning has been helpful to us in our lives. What I am interested in discussing with you is why you think a certain way, and why you behave a certain way.
What I want to know is, do you know why you do the things you do?
You see, most of us believe that the way we think is solely our own opinions. We do not believe we have been influenced by any outside party, and we are prepared to challenge anybody who thinks that we have.
“I am an independent thinker! I make decisions based on the evidence available!
Listen to this statement.
“I support the death penalty for child murderers”
Do you? Why?
“Because” starts your brain, “they have killed a human being so they must be punished. They have broken the law; they are evil, and they must face the ultimate punishment.”
Listen to this next statement, carefully.
“If a soldier kills in war it is justified. They are fighting an evil oppressive regime that is killing their own people.”
Where is the difference?
“Well,” says your brain, “the difference is, that the man who killed the child was an evil, sick, depraved human being, whereas the soldier who kills is doing it for freedom and justice, and is trying to help other human beings live their lives free from oppression”
For some of you this is an open and shut case. The ultimate Good vs. Evil. And on the surface, “good” seems to win. But wait a minute, this wasn’t the question. I am not talking about the pros and cons of the death penalty here, we could be involved in a useless argument for many weeks, and in fact politicians and pressure groups from both sides are fighting about this all the time. Lets go a bit deeper than they do. Let us ask the question about how I choose sides? Where is my opinion coming, from and how long did it take me to decide?
1. I Support the death penalty
2. I am opposed to the death penalty
I guess most people would have fallen on one side or the other in, oh, lets say 0.2 of a second! That’s interesting, because less than a minute ago, weren’t you “an independent thinker” making “decisions based on the evidence available”?
I’m sorry, but I don’t think there was any time for deep thought there, do you? So if you weren’t thinking deeply, how did you decide whether you were for or against?
Well, you read the newspapers, you see television reports of murders, your parents had an opinion, your government has an opinion, and your religion has an opinion. During your life your brain has had this information imprinted upon it and your opinion has been formed. Quietly and secretly, your brain has subconsciously processed all of this, and is ready to give its opinion in a split second.
Even if I had given you one hour to think about the question, you would still be using your conditioned brain, using newspaper reports, parents objections, government ministers speeches, or quotes from your religious upbringing.
I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable with this type of questioning; I want to include you in this dialogue as we are trying to get to the bottom of why we actually think the way we do. I am not here to agree or disagree with you on the merits of killing child murderers.
Let me ask you another question. Does being in an army require conditioning (which is to establish a conditioned response)?
Well, let’s think about what an army does. They are a highly armed force employed by the government, and paid for by you, to defend your country from invaders. How do they defend your country? Well, they are trained that if an “enemy” comes into sight they must kill him (to defend you). There is no time for thought here. You are wearing a green uniform, they are wearing a brown uniform and you have been trained to kill anyone you see with a brown uniform, as he has been trained to kill anyone in a green uniform! No decisions needed here, you have your orders.
It doesn’t matter if your opponent is a nice man who attends church regularly, has two beautiful children, and regularly does charity work to help the homeless. Nor does he care that you are recently married and your
wife will give birth to your first baby next month.
You see each other, your brain processes the colour of the uniform, and you fire upon your enemy. Not because you have any specific quarrel with the man, but because you have been told that people in green/brown uniforms are “the enemy.” You see, an army can’t function if there’s any independent thinking going on. They must condition you to function as a unit, with only one brain active, that of the commander. Army commanders have long known that you must condition the soldier, to “break his spirit,” so he becomes a machine who will never question why we are attacking this or that enemy. So what happens if a soldier starts having a conscience? Well, in the first world war especially, they made examples of people who disobeying orders or deserted. They were shot. Yes, that’s right, killed by their own side as cowards. Imagine that, being killed by your own countrymen. Of course, these days the army will tell you that it’s not like that any more, but they must still condition the soldier to only obey orders. That is how an army functions.
I think that’s enough discussion about the army, lets see if we can create a list made up of the following:
1. Who do you respect?
2. Who do you admire?
3. Who do you hold in high esteem?
4. Who do you hate?
5. Who do you love?
Was it easy? Yes?
“I respect my boss, I admire the prime minister, I hold the pope in high esteem, I hate dictators, I love my wife.”
Done. List finished.
Not so fast! You see, we all have people we admire, respect, love, hold in high esteem or hate, and for everyone it’s different. In some countries some people may have included a man who we consider as a brutal dictator under their “respect” or “hold in high esteem” sections, where someone else may have them under the “hate” section. How can this be? Well, you and I are getting closer to uncovering why you think the way you do; why you love a dictator, and I hate him.
But in order to do that, we first need to investigate the words themselves. Love, hate, respect, admire, and esteem. Not the dictionary definition, but the feeling behind the word. We will try to understand, word by word, what it really means when I say “I respect you,” or “I admire him.” We must endeavour to put aside our conditioning, in order that we can put these words under the microscope and see their true meaning.
This will be a difficult task for all of us, as our beliefs and opinions are firmly rooted in the past: in tradition, in culture, and in education. We must tread very carefully to get to the truth; something which neither I nor anyone else can tell you or show you; something that can only be seen by individuals who have broken free of conditioning and are investigating, like you and I, into the true nature of everything.