Vision And The Cultural Static

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Painting by Andrea Kowch

“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: “You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgments. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”

— Dorris Lessing

Cultural static is especially strong right now, what with all the mediatic voices vying for our attention. From childhood on we are inundated with half baked assumptions, both blatant and subtle. Since most of us are half conscious we swallow a lot of trash. It’s shocking the number of Americans who voted for Trump, for example. Their minds were prepared by a relentless deluge of propaganda that passes unnoticed in our society.

All the unquestioned faulty logic that parades as truth passes unnoticed because we are not taught to think for ourselves. It’s a recipe for large scale disaster of the kind we saw in the 1940’s. There’s a mental virus abroad right now to go with the physical virus. History records pandemics and genocides stemming from the common blindnesses that humans are subject to. Ignorance, fear and hate being the human condition, our survival on the planet is not assured.

Our individual responsibility to ourselves and the world is to wake up to our conditioning and question it. We carry a lot of weight we don’t know we’re carrying, of cultural assumptions and fear. Right now the pain of not evolving is colliding with the imagined pain of questioning our unconscious assumptions. Looking at ourselves instead of blaming others seems to be beyond most of us. Human cultures preserve that state of affairs. We haven’t yet learned how to look inward and listen to how we add to the trouble.

We can’t even hear the natural world screaming at us. We’re powerful, but stupid.

What does the world need? It needs an alive mind, a mind unencumbered by dead forms of though passed down the generations. A responsive heart is overwhelmed by a cluttered and fearful mind. We don’t realise we are stereotypical humans created by a cultural template we accept unquestioningly.

It’s not an insoluble problem, but we are educated not to see it. As long as we don’t know it exists or refuse to see it we’re trapped in a tragedy. That tragedy multiplied by millions creates death and destruction on a massive scale. That’s where we are at the moment, especially in America, a country with an outsized influence on the world stage.

People who can step outside this trend and help those still caught in it are indispensable right now. We need beauty and kindness, yes, but we also need a good vision and articulation of the problem itself. The issue needs to become clear. Right now things are murky and confused. Every misguided fool thinks he knows and is willing to perpetrate crimes from that certainty.

The question I have is can we grow up enough to see who we really are, and change.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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