An unreliable reality
There have been many tools of control, and nothing is more insidious yet powerful than the control of other people’s minds.
We all have some knowledge of history. We all know that there has been a long human past, at least hundreds of thousands of years. We all know that habit repeated over and over again becomes tradition. What we do not realize is that habits and tradition are subtle mind-conditioning factors until their impact becomes obvious and, eventually, extremist in expression.
Together with the formation of communities or tribes was born the structures that defined them; more importantly, the structures that governed them. Survival was the most fundamental of factors, and survival defined the fittest as well. From the fittest came the strongest and the smartest. Naturally, at survival level, might was right. For thousands of years, might was the law.
History overflows with wars and how millions of ordinary people from most countries and cultures around in the world followed with little question that one person at the top, whether emperor, king, queen, czar, shogun, chief, warlord, or dictator. Obedience meant accepting death if one fought wars for his leader, or death from his leader if one did not obey. The human DNA has contained such a violent gene throughout a long history.
In other words, that was reality then, and possibly propensity even now in the subconscious. The nobility or morality of reality is not the central focus here, only that reality imposed itself so powerfully that it became the universal understanding of human societies. It does not mean that there was no opposition to that reality, but opposition also adopted the same reality – might over right, survival creating the fittest.
In the past, therefore, reality was easy to understand. It was not confusing; there were few nuances to confuse. Reality was black and white. The little grey in between allowed only a few moments of choice-making – fight, flight, or momentary paralysis before either fight or flight.
The simplicity of reality dictated the high unity of perception and reality. What one perceived usually was reality as well. Reality, therefore, affirmed perceptions until there was little or no difference between them. Clarity was the order of the day, and simplicity was the virtue that guaranteed clarity in most things.
Lying, then, was a major crime to societies that were grounded on the simplicity of rules, obligations, and duties. Lying would discolor black and white; in fact, reverse the colors. Lying was a major weapon of conflict, especially war. The art of war, not only based on Lao Tzu’s book but on the experience of leading players in societal conflict and drama, depended greatly on the skill of deception. Partisans would try to deceive one another to gain the advantage of preparation and surprise.
In other words, lying and deception were always unfriendly, always wanting to confuse and disrupt the order of the day, always instruments of warfare. Even in religious principles, lying and deception were always condemned – even if they were often used to obtain control by many religious leaders. Among Christians especially, the offense called hypocrisy is one major personification of lying and deception for which the name Pharisee was badly stained.
Unfortunately, in the corridors of power, from a long past to the ugly part of the present, that family of unfriendly and devious vices consisting of lies, deception, and hypocrisy is fast becoming the norm, not the exception. The act of lying and deceiving are in deep partnership with what motivates them – greed for wealth and power. Lies and deception are not so minor anymore because they have become favorite tools for corruption and lust for power, not just gossip.
The many benefits of modernization and the introduction of democratic governance has, unfortunately, brought with it powerful weeds, too. Democracy has been trying for a few hundred years to transcend the historical pattern of central leadership in whatever form. It confronts the steep, vertical hierarchy of control and introduces the equality of people. This presents the first big challenge to democracy. The conceptual equality before the eyes of the law is extremely difficult to see in societies with huge economic and social gaps.
The attraction, however, to feel equal to those who have long lorded it over you via democracy is powerful and desirable. Even if its total application is unheard of, just the thought of it is terribly appealing. And where the vast, long-marginalized majority can practice it, they will.
The silent majority, then, which was the state of affairs for millennia, is not so silent anymore. Over the course of democratic experiment, especially in the West, ordinary people speak out. It matters less if they speak out intelligently in an informed context or not; what is important is that they want to speak out. Little by little, they also want to be heard and appreciated.
Reality, then, is challenged in a billion ways by people who may not have enough true and accurate information but speak anyway. There is a cacophony of voices presenting all kinds of ideas and sentiments, seldom united or even coherent. In that situation, reality becomes easy to manipulate if determined, skilled, and resourced forces wish to do so. Confusion triggers fear, and a consistent powerful message, whether true or not, can appear as a logical answer to doubting minds.
Reality pays a huge price to be democratic. Reality demands objectivity and a reasonable amount of intelligence. A cacophony offers neither. The mass consciousness that makes no effort to gather and process information is like sheep being offered for slaughter. Societal confusion is now par for the course as each vested interest exploits how and when they can.
Ah, this may be the new normal, where perception and reality have a contentious relationship. All the more, then, ethics and morality become so primordial in keeping order and harmony. Which means there will be little to none.
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