I remember those carefree summer days of childhood along the shores of Birch Lake in Northern Wisconsin. Catching frogs for bait to fish for Walleye & Northern Pike; life seemed pretty straight forward and uncomplicated back then, the way it’s supposed to be for children. Except for the inevitability of school, and household chores my time was pretty much my own. Yet even as I busied myself with those things important to a youngster I had in the back of my mind just a smattering of an idea of how growing up would change things. You would have to be blind & deaf to not know that the responsibilities of adulthood were a constant source of stress in that house. So it was that I approached the years of adulthood with reservations and no small degree of reluctance.
The nearer I got to that age when I’d be expected to “put away childish things” the more misgivings I developed as I came into a clearer picture of what it was about adulthood that took such a heavy toll on my parents. Between school and church it seemed we had a clear enough blueprint given to us for how humans should conduct themselves on this beautiful blue-green gem of a planet….trouble was, nobody was playing by those rules. As near as I could figure out at the time, following that blueprint just set us up as fast food for those who played by their own set of rules. I tried not to give it too much thought back then because well, hunting for dinosaur bones was just way more important; and besides, I was certain that the grownups would have everything fixed before I turned 20.
As the years piled up on me I couldn’t help but notice that the closer I got to adulthood, the worse shape the world seemed to be in. There were a few moments of hopeful anticipation when someone showed real signs of bringing about some much needed change in this society and the world; but the ensuing, inevitable assassinations also killed such hopeful notions. The military-industrial-complex that Ike tried to warn us about was just getting warmed up about the time I received my draft notice. It came as a death knell for the dreams of a generation of young people just like me. Motivated by Dad’s war stories and the news coverage in Vietnam I took my narrow ass down to the Navy recruiter and signed up. If I was going to have to go to war, I figured there was no earthly reason I shouldn’t have a dry bed & warm food. About the only thing I found that was “as advertised” was the old saying, join the Navy & see the world. Now I didn’t get to see the entire world, but the parts I did see bestowed upon me a far greater education than any school can provide. I got to see how other people in other lands live, I got to see their culture, architecture and society. What I saw the most of was their poverty and oppression…I got to see outside the bubble of “the American dream” for the first time.
I also saw no earthly reason why I couldn’t make the most of it and have some fun along the way. On a three day stop-over for liberty in Hong Kong I coerced two buddies to accompany me (in civilian clothes) to the Kowloon side (which is communist mainland China for some sightseeing and culture. Everything went fine the whole day, right up until we hit the peoples republic museum. On the far wall was a beautiful, huge painting of chairman Mao surrounded by many other notables. I was taken by how very life-like the painting was, so I snapped a couple photos. How was I to know that not only is photographing people frowned upon in some oriental cultures, but taking pictures was actually against the law in that museum?? Very soon we saw two uniformed museum dudes coming our way and a small windowless room in our future, so we ran. The guards chased us out into the street where we were fortunate enough to find one of the literally thousands of ‘taxis’ which swept us up, and out of the area before the police could respond. Of the several lessons I got from that experience perhaps the most important one was learning that you cannot always expect other people’s beliefs to be reasonable, or logical…but you must respect them just the same if you wish the same consideration in return.
No matter where the Navy took me, everywhere you go there is one thing that exists the same way in every country and continent, and that is this ability humanity has to just ignore the injustices heaped upon them, as they continue to work for the very system which oppresses them. The proverbial elephant in the room, with Leonard Cohen on the radio singing “Everybody Knows” to intentionally deaf ears! There exists a persistent and pernicious evil on this planet which seeks to dominate and control humanity; to prevent us from thinking, thriving and evolving. It is cold, calculating, & heartless and seeks to re-make us it it’s own image…and we’re letting it! Why is that, Really? I conjure the biggest part of the answer is conditioning…they’ve been at it for centuries now, so the roots are very deep indeed. The proverbial elephant in the room, conditioned its entire life to believe it cannot run free because of the heavy chain on its hind leg. Except the Mahout (trainer/keeper) long ago replaced the chain with a small rope the elephant could easily snap…but he doesn’t because he believes he cannot! Another part of Why might just be that as a group, humans often seem to prefer taking the path of least resistance. Especially so here; under the ever-decaying bubble of the American dream. We Yankees are so addicted to our cars & creature comforts we dare not rock the boat too much for fear of loosing them. Well played, pernicious evil, well played indeed! Get the talking monkeys addicted to toys and stimulants so if they ever revolt, they loose it all.
Now Joe Six-pack & Marvin Middleclass know all this. Somewhere in the back of their mind they figured it all out, did the math and arrived at the in-escapable conclusion that the fix is in, the game is rigged, no brass ring for you. To their credit they do not share this epiphany with the wife and kids, no need to scare them; they just keep it tucked away in a dusty box in the basement of their subconscious and keep putting in those overtime hours to get ahead until they have their heart attack & die. The thing is, all that is NOT in-escapable! Joe & Marvin don’t have to settle for austere lives of debt and desperation; there is another way…and the boys know that as well, but to go down that path is to turn away from the hive mind and what is socially acceptable, and it requires an uncommon faith in yourself and the universe. In today’s fractured world to openly say you believe something dramatically different than the masses is to invite disdain, alienation and possibly even a violent death. Like I said, you just can’t always expect other peoples beliefs to be reasonable.
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” ~ Edmund Burke.
A person’s belief system is sort of like when you stand a few hundred dominoes on end to form a pattern. If one of those domino-like beliefs falls over because it’s proven invalid or just wrong, (lack of support) it tends to also bring down the next few beliefs in line. If the belief that falls happens to be the keystone belief for the entire system, the first domino…the whole thing comes cascading down around your ears. This is why so many steadfastly refuse to accept new concepts which threaten their belief system; not only is accepting the new paradigm going to send you off away from the hive mind, it’s also a lot of work. Humans have repeatedly proven their reluctance toward change, especially when new ideas and new knowledge is involved. Most only really change when the discomfort of remaining the same becomes too great, and it’s been said that in our western culture, if a person hasn’t changed old, self-limiting beliefs & programming by the time they are 45, they probably never will. That would be like having to live with Bill O’Reilly in your head for the rest of your life!