This would fall into the “back-story” file, if there were such a thing. I wrote this back in 2007 after exploring the idea over a long period in my personal journal. As Chris and I begin to seriously gear up it seems to merit publication now, with some additions and many edits, because it seems to be a recurring theme when I try to explain my ideas behind this “radical lifestyle” and where they have come from.
These are just some of my thoughts on the foundation of the battle that we inevitably rage with fear, expectation, and the fundamental concept of living “our own” lives, and the source of such an insane conflict. The Hydra I have termed The Ministry of Standards and Practices. The Ministry does include the institutions we’ve come to “know & love” of course, but it also includes our families, friends… anyone with whom approval and praise comes a sense of identity. One of the first questions people always ask when they meet you is “What do you do?” as if that’s who you are! People often feel either pride or shame when they answer that question; the Ministry at work. That belief that your identity depends on your job, car, house, bank account or a person's approval other than your own is delusional since no one can “make you" feel anything. Last time I checked, all of these things emanated from within. The Ministry can only function when we believe in that externalization of identity, happiness, and success.
The majority of this was written a couple of years ago, and some ideas have expanded, but this is a good start, if you can stomach the poor writing!
A funny thing keeps happening. I keep seeing what I thought were my ideas pop up in other places; conclusions I've come to, alone, through my personal writing and meditations, that I find later have already been written. Thoreau and his views on government & self- reliance. Rousseau on higher 'education' (indoctrination). Chomsky and the media.
I'm tooting my own horn a bit, but it would appear that I'm on the right track toward something if minds infinitely greater than mine have already drawn the same conclusions. I can’t stress enough how important I believe it is to come to OUR OWN regardless of what someone else thinks, writes, or preaches. If all we are doing is taking in and nodding, what does that make us? A follower of someone else's dogma; a solitary sheep in one of a thousand related herds.
I've been paying attention for the last couple of years at how and why people are kept inside the norms of thought and behavior, and who reaps the benefits. How we're kept with the flock. Where do these 'norms' and accepted codes of behavior and thought come from? It would seem that there is an insidious little sub- system to keep us in line and protect itself from those who would question its legitimacy. The Ministry of Standards and Practices.
I had a conversation with Brian Hardgroove of Public Enemy the other day, and we touched on, what I believe, is the most despicable of these 'checks and balances': “education” In particular, the way schools teach us to only obey authority; never question it … deserved it or not. To accept whatever ‘authority’ disseminates as empirical truth, rather it is or not. It shows us, from the most impressionable age, how the system works and places us where “it” has decided we belong: as subordinates striving to be well- adjusted cogs in the machine. We needed to 'do well' so we could get 'good jobs' which is, of course, how they defined “success” for us. To school by , a mid- day break, home when they tell us. Sound familiar?
Think about that for a second. Is that “education” or “engineering”? If your goal is to engineer obedient workers who are not intellectually equipped to challenge your authority… well, that would explain lower testing requirements wouldn’t it? Would explain a lot actually!
The purpose of this REQUIRED education program is to make us more useful to the entrenched economic system, and to keep the agreed upon dialogue in place. Questions will NOT be tolerated! We are programmed to believe that our entire motivation in life should be striving to become the bigger, better, more useful (and better-rewarded) cog. Obedient, unquestioning workers whose reward depends on how well you play their game. Then, our kids are sent home to play video games, or watch TV, which further cements these images of contrived success… never even hinting that there may be more, or that their idea of happiness may have nothing to do with being that cog. It’s Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”: lobotomized for convenience.
This… is simple mental slavery.
The vast majority of people, while sensing a deep- seeded twinge of recognition, have now short- circuited. Like a computer whose current programming can’t run new software, that sort of thinking runs counter to the indoctrination. It WILL cause internal conflict and ultimately require a redefinition of these fundamentals that we have long- ago accepted as “truth”.
That’s not easy. It’s daunting, uncomfortable… frightening. It requires stepping out of comfort zones, trusting ourselves, and embracing the uncertain. The alternative? The lobotomy of Escapism. Allowing television and the rest of the media reinforce these false, transient images of success and happiness, telling you that careerism and consumerism will make everything all better… “Don’t worry about that deep- thinking stuff; this is EASIER and more comfortable! All you need is MORE! Just commit your life to us, and we PROMISE will make you happy… eventually!” Sounds a lot like religion, and that’s no coincidence.
As religion requires blind faith, mental slavery requires blind acceptance. A total belief that there is NOTHING beyond the metaphorical city walls; beyond The Matrix. Simple questioning and challenging the Party Line will create doubt, encourage critical thought, and in the end corrupt the system. The indoctrination process begun in school and enforced in the media and at the dinner table is in place to prevent that. If you question the Ministry's legitimacy, you are a 'radical', or a 'subversive'. These critical thoughts are to be squashed at conception. This creates self- doubt. Self- doubt turns to fear. Fear to submission. What if you were encouraged to explore the possibility that maybe--- just maybe--- you were right? To free your mind?
Why is asking, "Is there something more?" then pursuing it so dangerous? The Ministry has associated it with being a subversive, lazy, anti- social, or in its extreme… criminal. It also tells us that everything “out there” is frightening, harmful, and wants to kill us! “Stay in your cages for your own protection! Watch TV, you’ll see! Thank God we have these electronic eyes to tell us how bad everything out there is! Bring me another bag of Chee-tos!” Fear breeds need, and they love to remind us why we need them. And we eat it up. It’s easier. It is cancerous.
Inside each one of us, there is a voice. It's your common sense, destiny, God, the universe. Call it whatever you like, but its there-- no matter how deeply you have buried it. It is scratching and clawing to get out. I'm convinced that this is the major cause of anxiety and depression. KNOWING something's wrong, but just cannot quite grasp it or understand it, and have no road map to follow. The Splinter in the Mind that causes the mental infections flare.
Until a few years ago, I was prone to bouts of depression that would at times last for months, for NO reason, even when everything seemed that they “should” be GREAT. It finally got to the point that I could go no further down that road, and gave in. I finally surrendered to REALLY looking into myself; trying to discover where that alarm was coming from. Nothing heroic, the status quo had simply become unbearable. It was in fact blessing.
I discovered that my conflict came from doing what “they” expected me to do, rather than what I was meant to do. I had no idea what that was yet, but I was quite certain that getting a “job” I hated just to pay bills because I was expected to was NEVER going to make me happy. I had tried to fit my square ass in that round hole long enough, and I was done. “They” could go straight to Hell. All of them. It was a profound leap of faith to accept that, but not in something external; faith in myself.
Each of us have a voice. Call it whatever you want. God, consciousness, the universe, intuition... Casper... But it's there for a reason. It's the only authority that ultimately matters, and the only opinion that counts. Quit silencing yourself in favor of the expectations and demands of others... and see what happens. If you feel even a twinge of familiarity, you owe it to yourself -- it is your DUTY as a conscious human being to explore it.
It's there for a reason....