Not so dissimilar to many, I was born into and grew up in a religion chosen by my parents. I'm not sure how it related to others, but in my religion questioning was frowned upon, if not outright prohibited. As was engaging in a truly open-minded discussion with another individual regarding their belief system, entering another house of worship, or reading sacred texts from another religion or spiritual path. I wasn't allowed to question, or view the documentary evidence regarding, the giant chasm I noticed between what I was being taught in public school about evolution, and what The Society was teaching me about the earth coming in to existence only a few thousand years ago. No one was to debate the repeated revisions about when The End was supposedly coming; rather, when I asked too many questions about prevailing doctrine I was counseled to take things on faith and warned against being a danger to the flock and becoming an apostate.
This indoctrination, which I received from birth until I left the religion at age 19, was very effective up to a point, as most any indoctrination scheme is upon young, supple minds. But eventually I would come to believe that “The Society” (a colloquial term the Jehovah's Witnesses use to describe the Watchtower, Bible, and Tract Society) frowns on questions and independent thinking because they pose a threat to its survival as an organization.
I'm not intending to vilify rank and file Witnesses. They are an insular group, full of many good and caring people, who enjoy a special kind of camaraderie and fellowship that can be immensely enjoyable. Much the same as most any other religion, organization, institution, or political party likely offers. I learned several qualities growing up in this environment that I am sincerely thankful for. Including, it turns out, becoming especially sensitive to thought control.
The Witnesses speak of their religion amongst themselves as “The Truth.” My biggest question for Jehovah's Witnesses, and for those in my immediate family who are still Witnesses and decline to dialogue with me, and for anyone who professes to have the truth about anything: if something is the truth, shouldn't it hold up to any amount of questioning, researching, comparison, and documentary evidence against any other hypothesis, belief, ideology, or documentary evidence? If you have the truth, what are you so afraid of?
The Thought Police
The more I explored outside the confines of my former religion, the more it appeared that thought control and a doctrine of silencing questions was everywhere, not just in the religion I was born into. I saw it in all the other major institutions around me: other religions, in government, and in the very public schools I had once found haven in as a youth.
For example, once I was on the outside looking back, I observed that as a student in public schools I had not been allowed to call into question the teaching of science on evolution there either! Science had the truth, and the schools and teachers and textbooks disseminating this truth was incontrovertible, not to be doubted or questioned. This, despite the fact science has been revising and updating its understanding of the world since man first started trying to make cognitive sense of it! Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, in his 1955 speech to the National Academy of Sciences, admonished against the folly of silencing questions:
It is our responsibility to leave the people of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant as we are. If we suppress all discussion, all criticism, proclaiming, "This is the answer, my friends; man is saved!" we will doom humanity for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before.
It wasn't just the science I wasn't supposed to question in school. I wasn't supposed to question the versions of history I was being taught, or the general curriculum, or why I was being forced to dissect frogs even though I adored them, or learn levels of math that I have yet, at age 55, to find necessary to recall. I wasn't supposed to think my own thoughts, I was only expected to regurgitate the thoughts of others. It was all so familiar.
Why would they not want me to think for myself? Or question? If they have the truth, what are they so afraid of?
These questions only continued to percolate, and when I had babies of my own I began devouring nearly every parenting and education book I could get my hands on. After researching both how kids learn and the history of public education, I eventually came to the personal conclusion that the institution of public education had presented the perfect opportunity to mold the young individual into what the elite wanted, the perfect place for them to apply thought control . . . en-masse. And that it was all made compulsory? Even more convenient.
Woodrow Wilson explained the thinking of elites this way when he spoke to the New York City High School Teachers Association in 1909:
Let us go back and distinguish between the two things that we want to do; for we want to do two things in modern society. We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forego the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks [emphasis added].
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In just one of hundreds of heartbreaking observations from his 30 years of teaching, John Taylor Gatto—three-time New York City Teacher of the Year, and 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year—shares the following in his book Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling:
Slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think [emphasis added].
After all, how could the elites do their thing, and laugh all the way to the bank, if we masses were questioning them all the time? How would they amass all of their wealth, power, and control if we of the “much larger class” were skilled at independent thinking? And were unwilling to work long hours in horrible conditions putting widget “a” into widget “b” for measly wages? Or if we doubted our rightful expectations that we should receive decent wages and benefits from our overlords who were making bigly bank? Or if we doubted all the advertisements telling us what we supposedly want?
Ministry of Freedom
- We are seemingly forced to go to school (educating children at home is actually still legal in all 50 states), and then told what to learn, and how and when questioning is—or more likely isn't—acceptable. For the most part we don't question this because the system itself has trained us not to. As education writer Marion Brady put it a few years ago, the curriculum designed in the 19th Century, and still in place today, was fashioned to train us for passive worker compliance.
- A men's razor company wants to sell more razors and sees a hitherto untapped population of potential customers so it places ads in the women's magazines of the day, telling their audience they need to worry about underarm and leg hair. A brilliant marketing tool known as Manufactured Demand.
- We are told that the next TV, phone, computer, gaming system, appliance, etc., will finally make our lives complete and happy. That is until they tell us again next year—or month, or week, or day—about our need for the newest technology and so we discard the “old one” which still functions perfectly fine (unless of course it was designed for planned obsolescence) and approximately 80% of the time it either ends up in the landfill or is dumped in toxic waste piles in the streets of less fortunate communities and nations.
- 5G marketing has gone full tilt boogie, telling us how grand the technology will be. However, a consortium of studies and concerned scientists tells us we should be concerned about our health. The industry has demonstrated that all it cares about is partaking of the projected economic windfall that is forecast to be in the trillions.
- We are told that bottled water is better for us than tap water so we spend more than $18 billion annually just here in the United States alone—paying approximately 2000 times more than what tap water costs us—to buy plastic bottles that are often filled with . . . tap water. This is absurd enough, but then add in the additional amount of water, energy, and toxic processes it takes to create and fill this plastic bottle derived from fossil fuels, and then to transport, store, and cool it. Not to mention recycling rates and outlets are minimal, so the bottle most likely continues to exist for hundreds of years after our few seconds of convenience, gradually breaking down and polluting and choking our soils and waterways. In addition, studies are showing that bottled water—aside from communities like Flint and Newark—isn't any safer than tap.
- Too many politicians do the work of corporate bidding versus doing the work of the people. But we still keep voting for them.
- Corporate media, even the so-called liberal media, distorts and targets, markets disinformation, and outright disregards presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders for example, who will disrupt their status quo. But we still keep supporting them with our viewership (including myself—eager for someone else to tell me what's really going on, always hoping for a Cronkite moment to happen . . . ). We have been trained to be passive. Passive viewers and consumers.
- Giants like Amazon and Netflix post record earnings for 2018 but, due in part to Trump's 2017 tax cuts, they paid zero in taxes (they actually got rebates of 129 million and 22 million respectively). We hear this news, shake our heads, and then ask Alexa to turn on our security system while we unbox our new smart TV and navigate to the newest streaming series while our kids are upstairs being watched, and talked to, by the newest creep who has hacked into the Ring security camera system which is owned by Amazon.
- We are told we need expensive medicine to cure our ills so we often go broke at the medical and pill dispensaries, and our bank accounts and our health often continue to degrade anyway. We are supposedly the greatest nation on earth, yet we pay more than anyone else for our “healthcare” and we rank near the bottom of developed nations in life expectancy. All the while, according to this report from Brown University, $6.4 trillion of our dollars have gone into the pockets of those profiting off of the war machine, and killing, since 9/11. We wring our hands and say we wish there was something we could do.
- Presidents, and their puppeteers and a myriad of sycophants, manufacture demand and/or hire PR firms to convince the public to support going to war, or doing things that could incite a war. Thousands of our own have come back traumatized or in body bags, and hundreds of thousands of civilians in other countries have died . . .all because of lies and propaganda campaigns. All the while the elites who start the wars profit from them, and questioning and dissent is stifled. (This is a chilling rundown of the extent and scope of the silencing of antiwar dissent in the lead up to the Iraq War in 2003.)
- And now we have a Republican controlled Senate that, so far, is refusing to allow evidence or witnesses in the trial that will decide whether or not the Already Impeached 45th president of the United States will be removed from office. And we, the American People, are supposed to accept this? Would that defense work for me if I, or any other American were on trial tomorrow? The senate jurors, or “triers of fact,” must hear the case and give their verdict BEFORE the evidence and witnesses are heard? If the president, and Mitch and his Republicans, have the truth, what are they so afraid of?
I'm not suggesting we throw out schools, razors, shoes, phones, technology, national security, or even Alexa (though I would recommend using caution with each). I am suggesting skipping bottled water (unless you're in a community whose officials have failed you on the water front), fighting against 5G, voting out corrupt politicians, cutting the cord from corporate media, and getting corporations out of our government.
Most importantly, the above are just a tiny fraction of examples of how, I believe (and I'm open to debate and questions here), we the masses have been largely unwitting victims of the elites and their indoctrination schemes, sales pitches, and controlling propaganda. I also believe that if we become fully conscious of this we are better positioned to take back our power.
In the interim, before this impending revolution I am hinting at and praying for, I am also suggesting, and imploring, to each and every one of the 100 Senators who swore an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and who swore a special oath to “do impartial justice” before commencing their duties in this trial regarding whether or not this Already Impeached president should be removed from office: please, simply honor your oaths. Let the truth be told, and unfold. History will note your responsibilities in this regard, and your response.
If There Was Hope
In George Orwell's all-too-prescient novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the proles are the proletariat who make up 85% of the population of Oceania—the same common working class, it could be argued, that Woodrow Wilson referred to in his speech to a new class of teachers in New York in 1909. In Orwell's novel, the proles came to represent hope, if for no other reason than the power their sheer numbers represented. Orwell's protagonist Winston Smith observed:
If there was hope, it must lie in the proles . . . if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength . . . .
It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same—everywhere, all over the world, hundreds of thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same—people who had never learned to think but who were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world.
We have the truth, let us not be afraid.