“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”
~ Noam Chomsky
It is painful to see how many people are clueless, dumbed down, numb. But more painful is to see how they cling to nonsense and protect the “status quo” without daring to ask basic questions…
I have seen this situation over and over again: in different countries, institutions, groups and individuals. In different situations and processes, and while facing diverse challenges: it is a lack of critical thinking, a lack of confidence in thinking by yourself, a lack of ability to ask simple, realistic questions, they seemingly fear to face being ridiculous, losing privileges and being exposed. Going with the flow, accepting laws and rules (both written and unwritten), minding only your small shadow seems to be the ultimate way of most people’s life.
At the same time, the ones who never dare to ask, challenge or even think seem to be the ones who feel more entitled, the more arrogant ones: “give me” and ‘I deserve it” are the most common ideas out there.
It doesn’t have to do with intelligence or formal education: the highly educated and professionals are usually the ones who cling to the old system more fiercely. Those who have always been discriminated, or looked down upon, those who have struggled with formalities and systems, the rejected, the weirdoes, those have more chances to “get it right”. However, as in any rule, it has many exceptions.
I recently shared a situation happening in Wales, UK: a young man built a beautiful cob house for his starting family but is being asked by authorities to tear it down “because he didn’t ask for the permit” (check here: http://www.beingsomewhere.net/charlieandmeg.htm and here: http://www.livinginthefuture.org/index.php/45 ). It doesn’t matter that the land he used was his father’s, who donated a piece for him. It doesn’t matter that the cob house he built was safe, beautiful and is not polluting or bothering anybody. It doesn’t matter that this young man has a baby and no means to buy a “conventional” house. It doesn’t matter that he is obviously brilliant and skilled in ways many of us aren’t (who of you, reading this blog, have the ability to build such as house from scratch? Who of those you know have?). What seems to matter here is “the law”, “the zoning codes” and to keep the status quo as it is.
Why don’t people ask simple questions? What are laws? Laws are rules created by people: they are not attached to the planet or to the history of humanity forever and ever. Laws, by-laws and zoning were all created (or so we are told) to protect communities from abuse and chaos. As they were created by humans, they can and should be challenged and changed whenever they don’t work. They were also created by those “in charge” which are usually the privilege ones who want to make sure that they stay as privileged.
Why don’t we ask what’s going on with our planet and the current systems we support? Why we don’t ask why is more and more land being used by greedy developers to build lifeless and character-less expensive houses that most can’t afford? Why we don’t ask where the farmers of the future will grow food? Why don’t we ask why we continue supporting coal, gas and oil exploitation when it is already know the damage this is doing to our planet and to the future of our children? Why don’t we ask why we continue building nuclear plants when we have seen the disaster from Japan’s Tsunami? Why we don’t ask who made the clothes and appliances we use and how are their lives? Why we don’t ask what’s happening to other people around the world where we send the waste we create with our consumerism? Why we don’t ask ourselves deep down to what extent and how are we all responsible for what is going on? Why we don’t ask why it seems to be more important to “obey the law” than being human?
It seems to me that the majority of people who don’t ask and choose to be quiet feel guilty deep inside. That is why so many are stressed, depressed and unhappy with their lives. Their hearts, their true connection with the Earth, other species and fellow humans hurts inside (as it should). So what they do to keep the pain out of sight? A trip to the mall, online shopping or a few hours of cheap “entertainment” may do. Closing the doors and staying inside, shutting up and doing our “jobs” may do it. After all, the world seems to be a very stressful place and we seem to be too small and powerless to exert any changes…
“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
“Primero vinieron por los comunistas, y yo no dije nada-
porque yo no era comunista;
Luego vinieron por los socialistas, y yo no dije nada-
porque yo no era un socialista;
Luego vinieron por los sindicalistas y no dije nada fuera
porque yo no era sindicalista;
Luego vinieron por los Judíos, y yo no dije nada-
porque yo no era un Judío;
Luego vinieron por mí,
Y no había nadie a quien hablar para mí”
~ Martin Niemöller
“Carry a candle in the dark, be a candle in the dark, know that you’re a flame in the dark.”
~ Ivan Illich