Category Archives: Cogs ZH Posts

Welcome To the Insane Asylum – Making Reality Fresh Daily – Chapter Four

An Equal and Opposite Force

The power that our conditioning and the Ponzi/government/Fed has over us is essentially an illusion, one that while we may support, is growing weaker by the day. As the Ponzi falls apart, as we fall apart, as the illusion begins to lose its focus and clarity in our minds and thus in our reality, the support structures become increasingly unsteady. Its hold on us rapidly diminishes on an exponential basis.

The more unstable the Ponzi becomes, instability that’s coming from layers upon layers of lies, deceit and deception, the more force must be applied simply to remain in place or slow the decline. The same can be said about ourselves. As we begin to lose our links to reality, as our insanity increases exponentially, the more force of will we must apply to remain functioning. As the systems fail, the collapse progresses rapidly and exponentially. The end comes quickly. Let me explain by using an example from my childhood.

My brother and I were horsing around one day and we starting pushing against each other from opposite sides of a door. Quickly we ramped up to the maximum force we could apply and it became a stalemate, with neither having the power to overcome the other. And we were both rapidly tiring. Since there were no reserves left in either of us, there was no way to quickly escalate and win the battle.

Because we were both at maximum power, even a small drop in effort by either side would quickly be overwhelmed by the other. In this case, I was the first to tire, so I tried to let go and get out of the way at the same time. The door quickly crashed into my face and chest, knocking the wind out of me and bloodying my nose.

The same dynamic is playing out worldwide. Maximum effort is being expended by the Ponzi and its support structures (various governments, banking cabal, Fed etc) in an effort to remain in place. Only in this case, the Ponzi (which is a reflection of our own madness) is fighting against the inevitable collapse of the madness itself. In effect, the Ponzi is being consumed by the escalating effects of the Ponzi, just as we’re being consumed by our own insanity.

The markets are very cognizant of this fact and are eagerly searching for any perceived weakness in the system while at the same time fearful of a total or partial collapse. The participants believe they can somehow not only profit from the destruction but then successfully escape with their gains, just as we believe we aren’t part of the madness and can avoid it’s destructive death throes. Escape with what and to where; by what means and when?

The first sign of any real substantial weakness will start a cascade and bring the system crashing down, which doesn’t necessarily mean governments will fail, though anything goes at this point. But it does appear at the very least that the fiat currency and possibly the economic system’s days are numbered. The real question is when.

To think we can safely escape at the last minute is as delusional as someone waiting until the water is 3 feet deep before trying to escape from the hurricane. The recent flash crash showed us the speed that the stock markets can and will fall. And you can safely assume the government will put a halt to security sales and money distributions and transfers when it gets real bad. Desperate Ponzi men will do desperate things.

A similar battle is occurring between our ego, our conscious mind, outside systemic influences and our subconscious. While the great systemic control forces being applied to the population appear to be overwhelming and controlling, in fact the system is highly unstable and susceptible to a crash if one side gains just a small advantage.

So the logical question is who or what has the ultimate advantage? From where I’m standing, the survivors will be those who retain or regain some semblance of sanity and who’ve already done much of the difficult internal work of finding emotional and spiritual centeredness.

 

Control through Apathy and Conflict

Let’s return to the citizens at the commissioners meeting. Once they saw that the impossible was in fact possible, that they were able to resist the commissioners, they made this new possibility, this new perception, “real”. And they created this new reality again and again simply by believing it’s possible. Nothing else changed other than their faith and belief in their own ability to effect change for their own benefit.

They made this new perception their own reality primarily because they wanted it to be their reality. So in effect they created their own positive feedback loop to benefit those inside the loop rather than be exploited by others. Either we create our own reality or we live within someone else’s reality.

Since our perception of reality directly affects how we interact with “our” reality, in many ways we make our reality fresh every day. Only we often make it exactly the same way as yesterday because our perception hasn’t changed. The people at the meeting were previously apathetic in response to their perceived powerlessness brought about in part by their fear. But now they created a positive feedback loop beneficial to them (with initial help from my friend) which helped them to subvert their old conditioning.

One could say this is literally the power of positive thinking or belief, which is another way of saying the power of the herd mentality working in and for the best interest of the herd. This local section of the herd is becoming sentient, self aware of its ability to change its reality to something more agreeable and beneficial. The power has always been there. They’re simply harnessing it for the first time.

Apathy is an emotional defense mechanism used to deal with one’s own perceived weakness. “Whatever, who cares, same ole same old, nothing we do matters so go with the flow and take care of yourself.” In a way, this also applies to those of us who are caught up in the endless cycle of fighting among ourselves. We don’t dare challenge our abuser, but we want to release our anger, so we attack each other instead. Our apathy is acted out as aggression against anyone other than those whom we really wish to attack and topple.

Once we enter the devastating cycle of apathy, we become bound within our own gravity well of helplessness. We’re rarely able to break free because the only energy we can muster is used to increase our apathy and the force of the gravity well itself. In order to free ourselves, among other things we must admit we supported the very system that enslaved us, an extremely uncomfortable and emotionally charged proposition.

This is one of the reasons social violence is rarely directed at leadership and often back at ourselves. The submissive slave mentality, the frozen apathetic mind, simply can’t revolt to any significant degree against the master. So the mob acts out it’s aggression on other more vulnerable groups. On a personal level, depression could be considered inwardly directed violence repeatedly applied. We reenact being traumatized again and again, often unable to break the vicious cycle. We do this because unconsciously we’re unable to face the root of our own trauma, our own victimization of ourselves.   

To break through this pain means not only that we must accept that we can/could have resisted, but we must also take responsibility for our part in the mess. We won’t push through this pain unless we can see a quantifiable benefit, sometimes just a way out, which requires narrowly tuning our internal radio station to “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) at least for the first push out. As nice as it sounds to say we did something for others, at this early stage in the centering, we must be acting solely for ourselves. Nothing focuses the mind quite like the certain knowledge of imminent death or great pain, which removes all the clutter and excuses in one quick swipe.

We begin this emotional and spiritual tuning by looking inward and conducting an honest appraisal of our own part in this dance of self enslavement and servitude. We must clean house internally if we’re to begin the healing process. If we study 12 step recovery programs (alcohol, drugs, sex, abuse etc) we’ll find that this is the heart of an early and long lasting recovery. Very few stay clean and sober long without this internal cleansing. Once the foundation’s been repaired, then the rebuilding can begin. But leave a shaky foundation in place and we’ll have lifelong problems. Or more likely, we’ll simply continue our downward spiral.

By starting small with something easily understood and achieved we build courage, which in turn helps us to push through further pain. We must all build upon our small victories, which develops the experience necessary to go bigger and bigger. How do we move our personal mountain? The answer is devastatingly simple, one wheel barrel at a time. The key is to narrow our gaze and see only the task directly in front of us, focusing just on that one wheel barrel we’ve now loaded with dirt and are pushing away from the mountain.

The control system has convinced us we can’t move mountains. And the control system’s correct. We can’t……in one big push. That’s the illusion that’s promoted by us and others to keep us immobilized; it’s all or nothing. But we don’t need to do it all at once. We can move the mountain one wheel barrel at a time. Anyone can. Once we push through this falsely perceived and promoted high hurdle, and we do this through the application of rigorous honesty, we begin to understand that it’s us who control the chains that bind us to our servitude.

This cleansing and rebuilding starts small, with our own personal affairs and those of our friends, neighbors and community. It’s entirely realistic thinking to believe we can change our conditions by our own hand and for our own benefit. The powers control us only by our consent, usually through active encouragement of our apathy. Remove or reduce our apathy and empower the individual through rigorous honesty (and a push in the right direction) and we’re no longer held captive to the lies, be they internal or external.

Our overall freedom begins within each individual, not in any mass movements, riots or strikes. The only strike we need to call is our own personal strike from self deception and false hope seeking. We’re easily controlled when we self deceive. We in effect blackmail ourselves.

It’s quite simple really. We’re playing a game with ourselves against ourselves. We know what cards we hold but we pretend we don’t know. Consider playing a game of cards between you and your ego. Your ego knows all your psychological triggers. You, the conscious you, will consistently lose, which is precisely what’s happening.

 

Rethinking the Problem and the Solution 

At one time, I thought the only way to “win” was to raise large armies of enraged citizens who would then storm the walls of power and wrestle “it” back. Though I admit I was never quite sure exactly what I would be wrestling back. I believed I needed an army because I’d been conditioned to believe I needed to move the mountain in its entirety and all at once.

And I was conditioned to believe this so that I would never even try; logically assuming I could never accomplish the task. It was only after I realized that we’re always powerful and will forever be powerful and that on a daily basis we’re conditioned to surrender our power that I recognized any massed assault against the perceived walls of power was unnecessary.

The towering walls are merely an illusion we’ve created (with plenty of outside help) in our own minds. If you think about it, twenty years ago the federal government was considered much less ominous. So dealing with the occasional corrupt official wasn’t that difficult. Now, after twenty years of escalating governmental and corporate misdeeds and abuse, it looks nearly impossible to get anything done. Incredibly, we support this illusion in order to kill the pain of our impotence and enslavement.

And we mustn’t forget that the people working for or in government are affected in the same manner. We need to stop, step back and consider why people continue to work for entities that are clearly working against their own best interest. We can’t simplistically assume these government workers, along with the rest of the Ponzi, are just “bad” or dumb or incompetent and walk away with an “understanding” that supports our desire to believe we’re powerless.

I don’t care how much we protest we want things to change. As long as we declare we want change but can’t change, either us or the system, we’re caught up in our own insanity. We need to reexamine the problem with fresh eyes, starting with basic assumptions. Since we’re not aware of many of our lies and self deceptions, we have no idea where they are or how far they’ve infiltrated our thinking. So it’s back to the basics. We question everything, which has the effect of establishing a base for clear and logical thinking.

The more we’re abused, the bigger we make the mountain. We see no way out, in the same way a battered spouse sees no way out of her prison while looking out her open front door. From her point of view, it doesn’t matter if the door is open, there’s no way out. In effect, we’re self medicating using self deception and the comfort derived from ignoring choices. “I can’t do anything about the abuse so I might as well make the best of it.” Since we aren’t happy with our enslavement, but we’ve been (self) conditioned to believe we can’t do anything about it, we must establish mythical but plausible reasons for not acting to save ourselves, thus increasing the spin of our insanity.

This desire to self deceive, created in order to deny the pain any real self awareness of our condition would bring us, leaves us wide open to all sorts of other lies and conditioning. We don’t need to break these illusions down from the outside; we simply need to stop supporting them from the inside. But this can only be done if we reject the self deception and lies that are the basis of both the internal and external control system. This is why I always say “we” are the control system. We are the foundation and building blocks of the very walls we wish to bring down.

An understanding this simple must be, and always will be, dismissed as crazy, unrealistic, unworkable and fantasy by those who have bought into the illusion. To accept any idea contrary to our illusion is the kiss of death to our illusion. Or more accurately, to those of us who have become emotionally and physically dependent upon the illusion, there can be no alternative to the illusion. Our own reality cannot accept any alternatives, for in our mind to do so would be suicide. We’ve built up the problem to such enormous proportions that a simple solution that requires our own actualization rather than blame shifting is totally unacceptable.

This is what I mean when I say we’re co-dependent. The amazing thing is that the illusion dies on its own without our support. No need to storm the walls since we are the walls. And we buy into the illusion by supporting its lies with our own lies. We validate the illusion by making it our own illusion, by making their reality our reality with the power of our own belief.

 

Wow! Who was That?

If the power of another’s belief is extremely strong, it often overwhelms and controls ours, particularly if we’re uncertain of our own belief or desire. This in a nut shell is the power of the herd when scattered or the mob when concentrated. This is also the power emanating from some individuals that we describe as “presence” or as “charisma”. This can’t be faked or substituted, though that’s precisely what the political and corporate image makers are trying to do.

And we’re susceptible to this image making manipulation because we’re all searching for this very power within, though I contend many of us are just acting like we’re searching. Careful what we wish for, right? The problem with being a success is that we can no longer acceptably fail, meaning the standard has been raised by our own hand, thus we can’t hide any longer by failing to succeed.

Because we constantly find ourselves lacking through (self) conditioning and indoctrination we’re much more willing to accept artificial imitations as genuine (imitations). The same applies to many human created religious movements. We’re seeking religious salvation and divine answers outside of us because we don’t have the desire, courage or faith to find them within.

We empower our religions just as we empower our governments and corporations. The sad irony is that not only do we fail to see within us the power we possess, but by failing to see the obvious we then empower and embody into an external entity all that we wish to find within. We give away what we claim we don’t posses. Which makes sense because then we aren’t responsible for the use (and abuse) of that power. Let someone else do the dirty work and receive the blame while I sit back and reap the rewards. There’s no risk on the hamster wheel.

The very power that we can’t find or see within ourselves is then projected onto and into an external entity. We deny having the very power we transfer to others. Once we’ve been conditioned to fail, success is much more frightening than to “naturally” fail. Failure breads more failure and we actually derive some pleasure from succeeding at our failure, particularly if we’re emotionally rewarded to fail.

 

Making our Realty, one Pill and one Bill at a Time

Let’s look at a phenomenon that illustrates the power within, which is easily measured by the pharmaceutical industry. Of course, I’m talking about the placebo effect. Someone’s given an inert pill or capsule for an illness or malady and told that the “medicine” in the pill will make them feel better. And for a mathematically significant number of people, they do feel or get better.

How can this be? How can something that’s not a “medicine” act like a medicine? Is that really what’s going on here or is the “reality” offered or invoked by the “medicine” accepted by the patient as “real” and thus the patient adopts the, or conforms to the, new reality.

Interestingly, when these inert pills are shaped and colored like other medications rather than left as a simple round white pill, the effect is even greater. And when neither the patient nor the care giver knows this actual pill is a placebo, the placebo effect becomes stronger. When both the patient and the care giver truly believe the inert pill is a “medicine”, the placebo effect is greater still. What’s going on here?

Part of the effect seems to be tied to the patient’s belief in the fake “medicine” and part is tied to the care givers belief in the fake “medicine”. Symbolically, the taking of a pill for an illness could be considered an acceptance of both the reality of the illness and of the power of the “medicine” to affect the reality of the illness.

And the placebo effect changes for unknown reasons, varying from day to day and person to person. While the dynamic behind the placebo effect is not understood, the effect itself is so well known and so completely trusted to be “authentic” that it’s used to measure the effectiveness of actual “real” medicines. If the “real” drug is no better than the “fake” drug (the placebo) the “real” drug is considered ineffective. But no one dares to look too closely to see what makes the “fake” placebo effective because that might just open a can of worms.

Yes, there have been studies but very few. It’s clear an industry dependent upon selling drugs doesn’t wish to fund it own destruction if they were to prove inert pills could “cure” disease and illness. Nor will a government fund a study that might undermine its illusion of power. Understanding the placebo effect just might empower the individual. Can’t have a bunch of empowered minds asking difficult questions as they wake to their own power, can we? Even the doctors concede that the patient’s will, desire and belief are often the difference between healing and dying.

While there might be numerous explanations for some of what’s going on here, it seems pretty clear that the power of one’s belief, and the combined power of two or more people’s belief, either has the power to alter reality or the power to convince someone to alter their own reality. In the face of this and hundreds of other anomalies, outliers I like to call them, how can we say that reality is static and unchanging and we can’t affect it? At least the scientists hedge themselves when they say the placebo effect doesn’t seem to conform to the “known” laws of nature. 

 

From the Pill to the Bill

The placebo concept blends nicely with our belief in symbolic paper “money” or currency as “real” and of our acceptance of the reality of money when we agree to accept it in return for our “real” labor. We then “spend” the real money for other goods and services, thus perpetuating this reality. Accepting and spending money is our symbolic acceptance of the fiat currency system and of our part in the economic/social/cultural illusion. It really opens the mind when we begin to follow the rabbit down the hole, doesn’t it?

Let’s look closer at this “belief” concept from the currency point of view, one that we’re more familiar with. Just as our currency is only as strong as our faith and belief in our currency, the powers that be are only as strong as our faith and belief in the powers that be. If we believe in our currency, if we believe it’s strong, it will remain strong. As well, if we believe in the powers that be, if we believe they’re strong and powerful, they will remain strong. It doesn’t matter if we hate them as long as we believe they’re strong, or at least stronger than you and I.

Slightly off topic, while I believe Gold is much more than just an element on the periodic table, Gold’s detractors try to demean the power of Gold by saying it’s just a piece of shiny metal, a barbarous relic as they like to say. In fact, it can and has been seen in the past as exactly the same thing as fiat currency, a symbol of the ultimate strength or weakness of our faith and belief in it. The difference is that humans have believed in Gold for thousands and thousands of years.

And this belief is universal, crossing cultural and language barriers. Fiat currencies come and go but Gold has always been seen as “real”, meaning either Gold is more than an illusion or this illusion is extremely persistent. This is the ultimate power of Gold, its universal acceptance as a store of value and its ability to continuously attract and embody our faith and belief in its stability and power.

A few years ago on a hunch I conducted some unscientific experiments with 2 infants just a few months old using Silver and Gold coins as well as Gold plated coins. When I displayed the various coins to the infants, always giving them a choice between two different coins, the two infants most often reached for the real Gold.

This occurred even when I controlled for weight by not letting them hold the coins, controlled for inscriptions by using coins of similar size and engraving and controlled for left/right bias by switching hands. Somehow they even understood the difference between plated and solid Gold. There’s something about Gold that can’t be explained and those that deny this “power” are denying themselves or talking their book.

 

They Need Us

Ultimately the government’s power is a derivative of our own real and natural power, which is expressed and quantified as our belief in the government’s power. Because governmental and elite power derives from us we can easily withhold our consent and belief in “them” and collapse them in the same way our currency would collapse if we simply withheld our belief in it. There are of course consequences for our actions. But doing this doesn’t mean the entire system would collapse, though the powers that be constantly tell us this would indeed happen if we removed them from power.

This same false promise of collapse is promoted by the abusive male spouse when he tells the battered wife she can’t live without him. Of course she can, just as we can live without our abusers. The abuser (aka the government, Fed and private banking and corporate interests) has conjured up an emotional and intellectual spell (to use an old maligned term) or an imaginary meme, which can also be called an alternative reality. And the battered spouse (we) has agreed to accept, consciously and/or unconsciously, the power of the alternative reality/spell/meme. We are the active ingredients that can break the cycle of violence and abuse quickly, though we often see it as nearly impossible.

The insane spouse abuser (aka government/Fed etc) is entirely captured and controlled by his insanity and rarely stops the cycle of abuse. We often hear an abuser say that he didn’t know what came over him and that he just couldn’t stop. Of course, he often blames the abused for his actions. I suspect he really is a bit surprised and confused by his own behavior, just as many recovering alcoholics and drug addicts admit they also were very confused by their inability to stop. Regardless, the insane abuser is going to continue to abuse anyone he can control just as our government and private corporations will continue to abuse anyone they can continue to control. We are willingly giving our abusers their power by remaining under their control/spell/meme.

I understand that the reader may chaff at my use of the word “willingly”, which is the reason I’ve spent page after page explaining the concept and manifestation of our insanity. Speaking for myself, I know that I will seek refuge in the comfort of self victimization so that I don’t have to do the hard work of self examination. I’ve often found that I set myself up to fail by placing unrealistic barriers in my way or by enabling precisely those I say I wish to break free from.

From where I stand, that’s the definition of willing, though I understand there are mitigating factors. That’s the reason for this long dissertation, to explain the nuances. But if we can’t examine this dynamic honestly and recognize our part in the dance, we’ll never break free from the insanity. What I’m really saying when I use the term “willingly” is that we don’t wish to exercise our innate and natural power to stop the abuse for a variety of reasons. And that’s a bitter pill that our ego doesn’t wish to swallow.

I need to make it absolutely clear here that I’m neither victim bashing nor blame shifting. I was subjected to terrible abuse for many years and I’m intimately aware of this dynamic. It’s abundantly clear that it’s the sole responsibility of the abuser to stop the abuse and that we must demand every single abuser stop their abuse in every single case of abuse. Period! But we must also find the courage to discuss why the abused remains inside the cycle of abuse. We must do this because this same dynamic is at play within our culture and our country.

When we remove our support of the powers that be (abuser) only the powers that be (the abusers) running the machine (this reality) will collapse, just as the people at the top of government always collapse when half the population shows up in the streets. The people in the streets are removing their faith and belief in the current powers and the powers collapse. The exchanges, banks, governmental services and the economic system all remain in place and operational to a greater or lesser extent after the fact.

They need us; we don’t need them. We have bought into their lies regarding their value to us and the system they’ve constructed to enslave us. For now, all we really want is for the structure to remain in place after they’re gone. We need to detonate our own psychic neutron bomb, killing the powers that be, but leaving the system intact. Once they’re gone and our sanity begins to return, then we can begin to change the systems. It doesn’t all need to change tomorrow. That feeling of urgency is false.

When we’re apathetic, we don’t resist or directly support the powers that be, and thus we willingly and consciously relinquish our power to them. We don’t actually hand our power over to them as much as we don’t apply our power against them. They don’t need to resist that which is not brought to bear against them. This has the effect of reducing our collective strength which is equivalent to adding to theirs.

I sometimes think of this concept in military terms. Ultimately an army is only as strong as the amount of force it can muster and bring to bear against an opposing army at any one time and place. A solider not available to fight doesn’t need to be opposed by the enemy. How we prepare ourselves, how we perceive our role, our readiness and our mission directly determines our effectiveness and thus the reality we project or accept. If we’re missing from the battle, the other side doesn’t need to fight as hard or bring as many troops to bear. Ever wonder how 5% of the population controls the other 95%?

 

It’s not What you have but How you use it

Let’s revisit the commissioners meeting one last time for our final lesson. A year later, the number of people attending the monthly meeting remains at around 30. But of those 30, easily 20 or more are now active participants in the governing process. Their apathy has been replaced with a belief in themselves and each other. And it isn’t always the same 30 people at these meetings.

As new people rotate into the meetings, they learn the lessons publically demonstrated by others in the herd of what an engaged and proactive citizen’s responsibility is. Since more of the citizens at these meetings are proactive, this essentially makes the same force (30 citizens) much more effective. Essentially they’ve leveraged their power while still using the same number of people. The herd is naturally teaching others in the herd through demonstrated public behavior.

While the commissioners see the same number of faces this year as they did last, those faces are now asking questions and demanding answers. And the commissioners are now much more responsive and accommodating. Their arrogance has been replaced with respect and even enjoyment now that they feel they’re working with the citizens rather than in a vacuum. It’s no longer a thankless task.

One commissioner told my friend last month that he now enjoys the meetings even though he still doesn’t like being challenged. The leaders are being retrained and reenergized. The commissioners, after their initial shock and resistance, have conceded to the changed reality and have accepted it, thus conforming to and confirming the new reality. The reality changed because the citizens wanted it to change. The citizens led and the leaders are now following.

It’s our apathy that empowers them. A dam that doesn’t need to withstand very much pressure doesn’t need to be very strong. Pull up pictures of beaver dams if you don’t believe me. And since 95% of us are either fighting each other over the dwindling scraps or sitting on the sidelines in abject apathy, the “towering” walls of the powers that be need only resist 5% of the population. Their walls are only as strong as our apathy is strong.

Energize just 1% more of the population, from 5% to 6% of total population, and we’ve increased the pressure on the powers that be by 20%. Energize 5% more of the population, from 5% to 10%, and we’ve doubled (100%) the pressure on the powers. This is why it’s so important to them to keep us dazed and confused and thus unaware of the power and pressure we can quickly bring to bear against them. As they lose control, they’re rapidly ramping up overt control techniques because they’re fully aware how precarious their situation is.

Remove our apathy and we remove their strength. They feed off our apathy and indifference as well as our infighting, which is why our control system encourages our apathy and division. This is done by way of our own narcissistic self indulgent behavior and by diversion tactics used to divide and set each upon the other. To overcome this, all that’s required is the spark, particularly now that the control system is extremely destabilized.

The kindling and firewood for the spark to ignite is all around us. Or like I said in an earlier article, the snow to create the avalanche is already in place everywhere we look. If we act, we’ll begin the process of teaching the herd how to teach itself. If we continue to disempower ourselves, we cannot empower the others. Thus we, meaning me and you and him and her and them and those, must empower internally before we can disempower the powers that be. This is why we must first find ourselves, then find the others. Once we begin our healing, it will rapidly spread to others.

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/avalanches-and-tipping-points

 

Fear the Nailman

OK, so now what do we do? Well there are two final concepts I wish to discuss, that of critical mass and the catalyst. But before doing so, we must discuss our own fear. No matter what psychological games I play on myself, that mountain appears to still be in front of me. And I don’t know if I have the courage within myself or others to do the hard work that will enable me to see the illusion.

Or we might say “yes I understand the mountain’s an illusion, just as the walls of the powers that be are an illusion. But I’m frightened and unsure what to do”. Fair enough, so am I. The first step is to talk about our fears. By doing so, by dragging the monster out from under the bed and the boogeyman out of the closet, we go a long way to disarming our fear.

I said way back in chapter one that we’re only as sick as our deepest darkest secrets. Well, we’re also only as immobilized as our deepest darkest fears. So before I begin with the final two concepts, let me relate a personal experience about fear. It’s often easier to create our own reality when we’ve seen others do so. And “fear” is simply a reality we can both empower and disempower at will.

I’d worked in residential construction for nearly 20 years, from when I was 16 to my mid 30’s, encompassing the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Towards the end of this period, I found myself working for someone else on a crew of one and a quarter building a house. In other words, I was doing 90% of the work and he would show up when I needed a second body to lift walls and place floor joists.

As usual, I was working alone one morning, on top of a step ladder with a compressed air gun nailing down the double top plate of a wall. I was reaching with the gun in my right hand while pushing the wall in place with my knee and left hand. A strong gust of wind pushed me off balance while I was just about to nail the top plate next to my knee. I missed the top plate and shot the 3 ½ inch glued and barbed framing nail into my left leg about six inches above the knee. Can you say Ouch?

From what little I could tell, it was the perfect shot, directly through the center of the leg at a slight angle, through the center of the leg bone and out the other side but not through the skin on the back side. The only thing that prevented it from going through and out of the other side was the head of the nail. I’d just shot myself, nailing the leg muscle to the leg bone, and I was all alone and unable to walk, barely able to get off the ladder. And this was before cell phones.

Then I got lucky. I expected to be working alone all day, but my boss showed up 30 minutes later because he’d forgotten something. He quickly called the ambulance and along with the fire department they got me off the second story and into the emergency room in about an hour and a half, the delay caused by the lack of stairs in the unfinished home. Once the emergency room doctor saw the x-rays, the on-call orthopedic surgeon was summoned.

Unfortunately, for reasons never fully explained to me, the surgeon took over two hours to show up. Personally I think he was off in a motel somewhere. The ER doctor didn’t want to order pain meds because I’d been handed off to the missing surgeon. So I was basically abandoned medically while call after call was placed for the MIA surgeon. I’d been in pain now for over three hours with what was effectively a gunshot wound through the bone. And quite frankly I was getting very worried and was nearing panic when suddenly almost all of the pain disappeared.

This lasted about 2 or 3 minutes and I was baffled. At first I thought something bad had just happened, that maybe I was going back into shock. But I felt OK, not dizzy or cold or disorientated. I was thinking clearly and I was fully aware of my situation and my surroundings. I’d just decided to start hollering for someone to come into the exam room when the pain came blasting back. Oh my, now that was a shock.  

For about 5 minutes I was stunned and somewhat befuddled. What had just happened? What the hell was going on? And then a realization and understanding swept over me. It wasn’t the pain that had disappeared and then reappeared; it was my fear. The fear I was experiencing (where the hell is the doctor, what are they going to do about this nail, will I be able to walk, will I be able to work) was creating a emotional positive feedback loop that exaggerated the pain which exaggerated the fear and so on.

Basically my emotional state was more of a problem than the nail, at least as far as the pain was concerned. Since I knew that it was now possible to be fear free, meaning the “reality” of no fear had just been demonstrated to me, I decided to try it on my own, in effect to experiment. I knew I could be without fear because I’d just experienced this reality for a few minutes.

Rather than try to understand why it happened, I wanted to focus on making it happen once again so the pain would go away. So I decided that I had no fear. I’m not talking about hoping or wishing or thinking or praying or trying not to be afraid or trying not to have fear. I decided fear was not present because it did not exist at that moment and time.

This is an example of how something becomes real or a part of our reality simply because we have “proof” it’s real, regardless of how silly or impossible it might seem. I consider this the central core to our madness, this constant need for proof of our reality before we accept our reality. Or let’s reverse that sentence. This is an example of our denial of certain realities if the “reality” can’t be proven to be “real”. Let that concept sink in for a minute.

Consider how much we depend on others, mostly authority figures of every kind, to tell us whether something is real or not. And if we’re told it’s not real, we dismiss it from our minds and thus our reality in the same way I dismissed the fear from my reality. If we’re told something is “real” we believe it pretty much without question. “They attacked us because they hate our freedom; now shut up and get back on the hamster wheel.”

I knew the absence of fear could be “real” because I had just experienced it, in the same way we know our feet will touch the floor when we roll out of bed in the morning. We never even consider that the floor won’t be there when we swing our legs off the bed. We don’t question it because it’s there, it’s real, with such a huge degree of certainty that there’s no doubt whatsoever.

This “reality” has been “proven” to us repeatedly each and every morning. We don’t doubt it because it’s “real”. This isn’t just an intellectual exercise. We approach so much that’s in life in exactly the same manner, thus making real something that might not be real if we hadn’t been told it was real. For example, every source we turn to tells us that the towering walls and powers that be are impossible to bring down. This is not true yet the vast majority of us believe it to be true, thus making it “real”.

It wasn’t even that I knew I had no fear. I simply accepted the condition of the absence of fear as I would the condition of the floor under my feet and the examination table under my butt. I created the reality by expecting it to be there, which is not the same thing as hoping it will be there or expecting the fear to go away. The fear simply wasn’t there because it did not exist. I can create and empower the fear from within or I can choose not to create and empower the fear from within. I have the inner power to make the fear “real” or not.

 

Do. Or Do Not. There is no Try.

When I related this to a friend a week later, at first he laughed. But then he said it reminded him of that scene from Star Wars where Yoda is training Luke. Luke has just failed to lift the star fighter out of the swamp muck and Yoda scolds him after Luke said he would try again. Yoda says “Do! Or do not! There is no try!” I understand using this movie reference sounds somewhat “out there” but I need to emphasize that there simply was no “try” to be without fear. There just was no fear. It did not exist and it never existed. In fact I had made the absence of fear so “real” that to actually feel fear at that precise moment would have been a contradiction of reality because there was no fear to feel.

I experimented a few minutes turning my fear on and off, of turning the reality of my fear on and off, until I felt I understood how to do it. I was literally going from lots of pain to very little and back again. It was very surreal. The key was to assume total and absolute responsibility for my fear or the absence of my fear. There was no “this situation is making me afraid” or “that nail in my leg is making me frightened” because I make or don’t make whatever reality I want. Nothing makes me do anything. I and I alone control myself and my reality. Only I can “make” me do something. I’m accepted my responsibility for creating my own reality. Nothing else is responsible for making my reality, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

Consider how often we use the word “make” when describing our reality, in particular our emotional reality. You make me mad. I made her angry. She makes me happy. I made my son angry. They made me upset. The actions of the powers that be make me furious. The bankers are making me very upset. Obama makes me furious. In each situation, we’re abandoning our responsibility for our own emotional response. Thus whatever response we present is not our fault. The other person or entity then owns us, which is another way of saying controls us, because we hand over control of our emotional state. This inevitably leads to our physical control.

All there can be is the simple and absolute understanding of the experience of the absence of fear, of being without fear. For example, you’re reading this now. You’re not thinking “I don’t want to be afraid” or “I want this fear to go away” while reading this. You simply aren’t thinking about fear because there’s no fear present. I was creating that condition in my mind. Actually it “felt” like I was turning on and off a switch that was literally located in the back of my head. Something had shown me how to create an alternative reality. And like the good student that I am, I followed instructions.

Suddenly the surgeon walked into the exam room with a bunch of people in tow. After 10 minutes of looking at x-rays and examining my leg, he turns to me in the most matter of fact manner considering the situation and lays out two choices for me. They can rush me off to the operating room, cut my leg open and extract the barbed and cemented nail from the center of my leg bone. This choice could subject me to infection risk as well as a long recovery time because of all the cutting and possible sawing.

“Or we can take care of it with these.” He turns around and in his hands are two very shiny and beautifully crafted vice grips, one large and one slightly smaller. He didn’t need to tell me what he wanted to do because it was obvious. He wanted to grab the head of the nail with the vice grip, lock the jaws closed and twist it out. I was a bit shocked that one choice involved surgery and the other involved a pair of vice grips.

I asked about the danger of pulling the nail out in the exam room and he spent a few minutes talking about ripping open an artery and hemorrhaging, breaking or shattering the bone from the torque applied when twisting the nail out and even tearing the muscle with the barbs. “No big deal” is how he summed it up. I asked him for his recommendation and he flashes this big smile and says “I’m here, you’re here, let’s get the party started.”

After a few seconds of thought I told him to go for it. He asked me if I wanted a shot for the pain and I said no, I had the pain under control. He asked again about the pain, then looked at me and said no more. I did say I’d need a minute to prepare before he started. Five minutes later he said he was ready and I went to that place and flipped that switch I’d just learned about, where there is the absence of fear because there is no fear.

As it turned out, the “extraction” was much more difficult than he expected, what with the barbs and cement. After about a minute of twisting and pulling the nail as one would a corkscrew, he finally was able to pull it completely out. Both he and I (after it was done) were astounded that I was able to bear the procedure without crying out in pain or using the second pair of vice grips on his ear or nose in retaliation. BTW, 25 years later I still have the nail and the x-rays and I regularly pull them out (pun intended) to remember that important lesson.

One week later, when I visited his office for a follow up, I asked him if he’s normally that cavalier and forthright when talking to patients under similar circumstances. He said no, he doesn’t normally and he’d thought about it often, wondering what came over him. He said he didn’t do anything different than he normally would, meaning the same choices would still have been offered.

But when I persisted with my questions, he did say he felt the emotional situation was “light” and “easy going” and he “felt” (I remember he had a confused look on his face when he said this) he should act the same way. He seemed to be genuinely surprised by what he had experienced. This brings to mind the concept of mirroring, how when talking to someone I mirror their actions or they mirror mine, such as if I cross my arms the person will often do so as well.

The surgeon had unconsciously been mirroring my lack of fear and my calm demeanor. He didn’t walk into a crisis situation. I’d created in him an alternative reality simply because he was exposed to my reality. This is part of the dynamic of herd behavior on an individual basis. Understanding the concept of mirroring is important because it can be used as a source of strength and inspiration when we rally those around us or when we seek support from those around us.

Obviously the point of this story is to illustrate to the reader the power of a belief or awareness of a “truth” or “reality”. More to the point, the understanding of the power I already had and still have within myself, which I used to create an alternative reality (in this case the absence of fear) or to alter the reality I was experiencing. What helped me to believe an alternative reality could be possible was simply that I had already experienced it when the fear disappeared for those 5 minutes.

It’s important to understand that regardless of whether or not I had experienced the lack of fear beforehand doesn’t mean I could or could not create the absence of fear now or later. The “proof” had nothing to do with the alternative reality, other than to build conviction in my mind that the alternative reality could be “real”, thus I could make it real. It was the belief that was the active ingredient here, not the proof. The power was and is always there. We simply chose or don’t chose to utilize it.

Our fear is entirely under our control because we make it real or not. No one makes us afraid or fearful, we make ourselves afraid or fearful; the other person simply presents circumstances that we’re conditioned to believe the proper emotional response is fear. Understanding the root of the power of our fear is the key to dealing it, just as one understands that the power of our currency is our emotional response to it.  

To quote Albert Einstein “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” The illusion appears to be so “real” that we’re completely seduced by its form and function. We don’t ever consider that something is not real, that something might be an illusion. We use the same words to describe a house or a rock as we do to describe an emotional state of being. Thus it’s “real” simply because of our utter and complete acceptance of it as real.

The power of our minds to create this illusion in all its magnificent detail and depth is so overwhelming that we believe the reality we’re creating is more “real” than that which is actually creating it, our consciousness, our mind, our spiritual being. Sadly, we’re so thoroughly lost in the woods that we use the “proof” of our everyday reality, which is created by us, to disprove the power of our reality’s creator, our own innate and natural power. We are mistaking the finger pointing to the moon as the moon itself.

In Chapter 5 of this examination of our collective insanity, we’ll finish our discussion on fear and then look at how imagination opens our minds and creates our reality. We’ll also examine how reaching critical mass and being the catalyst is the key to creating the changed reality we all want.

Note: If you’d like to explore more on the subject of the dream like nature of reality and how we manifest our reality, then I urge you to spend some time visiting the web site of Paul Levy, who has devoted most of his adult life to exploring this question. Paul Levy has studied Carl Jung for decades and interprets Jung’s writings and philosophy in a very unique way. By way of disclosure, I (Cognitive Dissonance) am not Paul Levy nor do I have a business relationship with Paul Levy, other than to use his private practice services from time to time. Everything on his web site is free including an extensive library of articles.

http://www.awakeninthedream.com/

 

Cognitive Dissonance - 06/11/2010

Welcome to the Insane Asylum or: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Big Lie – Chapter Three

The Public Lie

Chapter 2 ended with us discussing how a lie unchallenged becomes by default the truth for those who wish to believe the lie, or at least not fight the lie. And the vast majority of us go along to get along, rationalizing or ignoring just about anything in order to go with the flow and not stick our necks out. Not only does this set up a continuous conflict within ourselves, but we become just another part of the herd we’re always complaining about. Let’s dive into what’s going on here while looking at an actual example of bucking the trend and getting results.

How wide spread is the practice of accepting public lies and of not being truthful? Answering that question would require a book, but let me offer just one small public example of the insane amusement ride. And in the next chapter we’ll explore one possible exit. Last year a friend attended a county commissioner’s meeting, something he does every month. At that meeting he witnessed the most astounding exhibition of collective dishonesty and cowardliness he’d ever seen in a group of people. Rather than back away and go with the flow, his small but courageous act turned the meeting around and pointed the group towards an exit from their collective dysfunction and insanity. All this resulted from sticking his neck out just a little bit to make a difference and lead the way.

One of the commissioners made a statement that flatly contradicted something she’d said the previous month and which was on the record. It was a bald faced blatant lie and was done to gain political advantage for certain favored business supporters by spreading additional tax revenue their way. Everyone in the room, including the other commissioners, knew this. It was a lie that would become truth if it went unchallenged. And yet no one said anything. My friend told me that as he looked around the room he saw a bunch of very uncomfortable people. Of note, this commissioner is quite combative and a known intimidator.

This wasn’t a trivial lie, the so called white lie that supposedly doesn’t harm anyone. It had to do with setting the local property tax rate and her lie would have increased the rate 4% more than the huge interim increase of 16% set the month before. Since he had the official transcript of the previous meeting in his hand (everyone did) he interrupted the proceeding and read it back to her. He was courageously challenging a statement he knew to be untruthful (better known as a lie) and he was doing it all alone. This meant sticking his neck out and it was going to be uncomfortable, scary even. But what followed was surprising and instructive for everyone.

Of the 30 or so taxpaying citizens in the room, at least a third were publicly hushing him, urging him to sit down and not make a “scene”, presumably by embarrassing the commissioner by outing her lie. They were hissing at him for at least 5 minutes while he read from the transcript. Think about that for a moment. The taxpayers did not want him to embarrass the liar. They wanted him to effectively enable the commissioner to feel comfortable in her lie by not calling the liar (her) to task for her lie.

Of course, what they were really saying is that they, meaning the taxpayers in the audience who’ll be paying the higher tax that results from the lie they weren’t challenging, didn’t want to be forced to publicly acknowledge and confront the lie they’d just heard. If the lie isn’t challenged, we can all pretend it’s the truth and not a lie. This is the process by which public pixie dust is used to turn a public lie into a truth. I shall repeatedly return to this county commissioners meeting for more insight.

 

Defending the Public Myth

What’s not well understood by many is that psychologically once we witness a known or suspected lie, particularly a public lie by an “official” or person of perceived “authority”, and we don’t challenge it, we become silent co-conspiratorial keepers of the lie. It’s now our shared lie and we must defend it as we would the truth. Or at least not attack it, because for all intents and purposes it’s become the accepted public truth. We in effect become public myth keepers. Of course, I’m talking about unpaid public myth keepers.

After the lie’s become an unchallenged part of the public myth for a while, if the lie is questioned by anyone and the challenge is upheld, we’d be exposed in our complicit support of the lie, even if the exposure is simply to ourselves. We hide our lies from ourselves, thus we can’t expose our lies to ourselves. This simple understanding is important to accept if we’re to begin healing. We must continuously remember that we’re always and forever first hiding from ourselves. Thus we often will defend the lie as the truth or at least remain non committal regarding its veracity. This is the power behind official propaganda (lies) that aren’t challenged. We empower the propaganda by not challenging it.

As the public lie ages and it becomes further embedded in the public myth, we often incorporate the lie into our own worldview. To continue to reject it internally in the face of our public acceptance would create the pain of cognitive dissonance, something we naturally wish to avoid. Better to accept the lie into our internal web of myths, truths and lies we call our worldview. Of course, this increases the need to defend it even more.

Even further down the line, our personal defense of the lie, along with its endless public repeating, sometimes serves to convince us it really is the truth. We begin to believe the lie, which is now our lie, and even adopt it as our own truth. For those of us who never believed the public lie or never accepted the lie as a truth, this process is extremely frustrating and even frightening. Our mind quickly grasps the power of this deceptive dynamic and how it could seriously hurt us if we stood in its way. The same realization settles over those who awaken later to the lie, further impeding those of us who wish to expose a well established and publically digested lie.

 

The BIG LIE

A perfect example of this dynamic in play is the manner in which many of us publically and privately resist any credible examination of what really happened on 9/11. This subject is a publicly (and for many a privately) closed door and cannot be opened at all, not even a smidgen. If the door is somehow forced open a crack, the governmental, public and private keepers of the myth rush in to apply damage control. And if we’re confronted with obvious contradictions of fact or common sense, while we might publicly say we support looking a little closer, secretly many of us are desperate for this door to be quickly slammed shut once again, for the implications are too disturbing to contemplate.

From my conversations over the last 3 years with at least 20 people who have slowly come to realize there are serious problems with the official 9/11 “conspiracy theory”, nearly everyone has admitted to me they’d always had problems with the official story. And while many suspected there was much more to it than they were being told, they didn’t want to think about the ramifications if their suspicions were true. The clincher for many to remain silent and in denial was that no one of public “authority”, be it on TV or newspapers or magazines, seemed to be questioning the official story. In essence, the leaders of the herd, the hive hierarchy, were (and are) not accepting any questioning of the 9/11 public myth under any circumstances. This had the effect of stifling questions from those who would normally be somewhat critical of the government.

Now combine this personal uncertainty and doubt with government and private myth keepers publicly and viciously attacking anyone who questioned the official story and we have what could reasonably be called a hot potato. Meaning no one who’s publicly certified as a “sane” person (meaning accepted by the hive) with anything to lose would possibly touch it. The myth keepers rarely attack public doubters on actual scientific or logical grounds, other than to hold up the disgraced NIST reports as proof. This is because the official conspiracy theory cannot withstand an unbiased and logically consistent examination without massive inconsistencies becoming readily apparent.

Instead, the preferred method used to “discredit” anyone asking questions when they can’t defend “facts” are extremely effective ad hominem attacks, which directly threaten a person’s status within the hive. For most people, particularly those in the public eye or of substantial wealth and privilege, but even middle class Joe and Jane who work in private or public companies and mingle daily with other hive members, it’s public suicide to invite these attacks by asking questions. Thus self censorship is alive and well in America, helped along by clear instructions from the hive authorities that it’s best not to ask questions.

The people with silent questions about the official conspiracy theory see the public beatings received by other doubters and quickly determine the softer easier way is just to shut up and whistle past the grave yard. These techniques have been used for thousands of years but have been refined over the past 100 years in an effort to maintain the illusion of a representative republic and “freedom”. In particular, this applies to the so-called freedom of the press, which is a farce any way you slice it. Any serious study of the main stream media will inform you of their consistent support of the hive hierarchy.

The powers that be who wish to squelch troublesome inquires can’t exactly move directly to outright jailing or even execution (at least not yet) so the myth of a benevolent government and freedom for all is maintained using other methods. These techniques include public browbeating and harassment as well as the psyops crowd favorite of ridicule, innuendo and rumor mongering spread close to home and work. And for the more persistent questioners, the tried and true outright verbal and physical threats, IRS “investigations” and so on are in the tool box ready to be used. Of course, “accidents” for those “terrorists” who are gaining real credibility can always be deployed. One only need spend some time reading up on this subject to become familiar with how this is done.

The herd quickly learns that to question the official myth(s) of the hive means immediate and extremely public excommunication or worse.  Since many people are already filled with conflicting lies that create continuous internal turmoil, most don’t have the internal stability and conviction to withstand this type of character assault. It’s extremely difficult to swim upstream when you’re all alone and you can’t trust yourself to overcome the current.

Moral courage to act against the herd and your government isn’t “found” within most people; it’s developed over time and begins with deep personal convictions which often include basic honest assessments of themselves and their world. To believe and then parrot what the herd believes or what the powers that be want you to believe is not defined in my book as moral courage, unless the belief itself is capable of standing on its own as independently provable and self evident. This is rarely the case.

If the only thing backing the moral courage is the ability to bash someone’s head in, meaning raw power, this is actually a demonstration of cowardliness masquerading as patriotism or courage. I’m not talking about rushing the machine gun nest type of courage; I’m talking about deep moral convictions based upon personal awareness and deep understanding of oneself and others. There is a shameful explosion of moral cowardliness these days from the very top all the way down to mom and pop.

 

The Herd Polices Itself

Following this dynamic down to a more personal level, when others would question the official conspiracy theory in their presence, many of the people I talked to who privately doubted the official story would actually defend the official story in public as a way of publicly declaring to the hive that they were on the correct side of the line in the sand. Others would just remain silent. Three of the people I talked to at length expressed deep shame and regret for actually attacking public questioners of the official myth with name calling and ridicule, precisely the techniques they feared would be used against them of they opened their mouths to question.

This is a perfect example of the herd policing itself after the conditioning and indoctrination has been set. When I asked them how they felt while they were attacking the questioners, two of them admitted they felt excited, almost like an adrenaline rush, even while they were feeling guilty or ashamed. I’ve talked before about the pain killing drugs and chemicals the brain releases into the blood stream when we hear, see or even speak information that confirms our biases and prejudices, even if we don’t really believe them.

This subject can and will divide families because the validity and believability of the questioner goes a long way to supporting the credibility of what they’re saying. Since it’s very important to attack credible sources to maintain the myth, and family members often have higher credibility, in order to stay in our denial or to protect our hive status, we will (viciously) attack family members if need be. One cannot over emphasize the lengths we’ll go to when trying to hide our fear of being rejected from the hive. As I’ve discussed in other articles, the fear we all have of standing alone against public opinion, even in a one on one basis, is often determined by our perception of the danger to our standing in the hive, not by any moral, ethical or legal grounds or factual correctness.

The public beatings tell each person who doesn’t wish to buck the trend exactly where they should stand on this subject. In effect, the master’s boss has told the slaves what their opinion should be regarding slavery’s benefits, not only to the economy, but to the slaves themselves. Here’s the story; slavery is good, poking your nose around 9/11 is very bad, not shut the hell up and get back to work. And don’t forget to spend and consume, which will help kill the pain of your voluntary servitude.

This dynamic plays out in many different ways depending on how well the person is coping with life in general. There’s no average or normal way for people to deal with this type of personal dishonesty so that leaves everyone an out, saying to themselves that they’re special, that it doesn’t apply to them, that since things appear to be normal it can’t be that bad, whatever. The excuse isn’t important and doesn’t even need to be believable. And it applies to all public and most corporate policy, not just 9/11.

Some common methods I’ve personally seen used by people to avoid the entire mess and disown responsibility for “it” is to say “Look I’m really busy right now with a lot on my plate so I’m not going to deal with this.” Or my favorite “I’m not an expert on these things so I’d prefer to leave it to the people who know” which of course completely repudiates any personal responsibility to make any effort to know what’s going on. Once we accept and then begin to assimilate the lie, it takes on a life of its own. And in order to continue to lie to ourselves, we must defend the lie to others. Obviously, this level of public and private deception cannot occur in a healthy nation or within healthy individuals.

When thinking about this subject, I’m constantly reminded of an old saying. “You can’t con an honest man” because the con requires self deception by the mark, the person being conned. In order for the con to work, the “victim” must participate in their own fleecing. By definition and design, there are no “innocent” victims in a successful con, just poor traders in a market of greed, lies and self deception.

 

Keeping Me, Myself and I Separated

When I talk about disclosure or exposure of the truth or lie, I’m not necessarily talking strictly about public exposure. I’m ultimately talking about exposure of the truth to our consciousness, to us, to the inner monologue. All information, all “facts”, are held in our sub consciousness which always knows everything. Uncomfortable truth or awareness can and does surface to the conscious level for a variety of reasons, where it’s often quickly suppressed by the ego.

How we actually react often depends upon the web of lies we’re carrying, along with our intellectual capacity to construct plausible alternative realities that will allow the lie to (co)exist with truths and other lies. In this way, high intelligence can actually work against us for it allows us to construct massively complex and convoluted stories, each containing layers of lies that support other lies with enough truth mixed in to remain plausible. The capacity to concoct lies is only limited by our imagination and desperation to avoid the truth. Jeez, sounds like the Ponzi, doesn’t it?

However, average or below average intelligence is more than adequate for the task of creating self deceptions. We’re all quite capable of creating our own alternative universe where everything makes sense, just as long as we never pull it all together into one big comprehensive package. To do so would be emotional suicide because all the contradictions would suddenly be readily apparent to us. The genius of the BIG LIE, personal or governmental, lay with both its plausibility and its ability to be understood and adopted by the lowest commoner. “The terrorists did it because they hate us. Now shut up and get back on the hamster wheel.”

Sometimes the ego creates what could be considered multiple split personalities (but isn’t exactly) in order to keep the various lies and self deceptions separated and away from our conscious mind. While the ego is constantly attempting to keep the truth buried, sometimes it can’t for various reasons. For example, maybe a truth must be present consciously in some more restricted form in order for us to function at work. So barriers are erected in our conscious mind that allows us to hide these truths in plain sight without acknowledging them.

When considering this dynamic, I often think of those porous Chinese Walls our friends on Wall Street construct as an example of this. The so-called Chinese Walls allow everyone to participate in the public myth that both sides aren’t talking to each other and neither side can see what the other’s doing. The exact same thing happens in our consciousness. We see examples of this on ZH and elsewhere where people leave nonsensical statements using contradictory information to “prove” a point. They really don’t see the problem with their declaration. They’re blind to these contradictions because in their mind, it all makes sense. Their “facts” aren’t connected to reality in the same way as others.

 

Ignore that Cognitive Dissonance

You may remember an earlier article of mine where I described how the ego uses a powerful but narrowly focused spotlight to illuminate small portions of our mind to our conscious awareness, but never all of it at the same time.

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/end-empire-waking-zombie-nations-psychology-consciousness-and-egoic-mind

This allows for the continued existence of facts that contradict each other without causing a total collapse. But this can and often does create a great deal of instability which can be overcome by holding extremely strong black and white opinions and views. This allows one to hold unproven, nonsensical or contradictory opinions that can’t be challenged because they’re set in stone and thus secure. This is functionally equivalent to the infantile practice of covering one’s ears while hollering “Na na na na, I can’t hear you”, something we’re all guilty of from time to time. This is an important tool for the serial denier.

This occurs regardless of how ridiculous the opinions may be because the strong black and white opinion is not intended to be based upon irrefutable facts. Its real purpose is to act as a buffer from the truth or other lies and self deceptions. We can see this occur all the time in ourselves and in others if we honestly look. Just peruse any discussion board for examples of this on public display. This also allows for changing troublesome facts once the light’s been moved. If information comes to light that changes pieces or the entire picture, simply change the “facts”. This also provides for the use of one fact to “prove” contradictory points or multiple views.

This explains how people are able to contradict themselves numerous times during a 10 minute discussion or even in the same sentence. Since there’s no central clearing or ethical standards board within ourselves to prevent double counting or misuse of facts, anything goes in the mind that deceives. After all, if we’re lying to ourselves, aren’t we the ones who determine if we’re really lying or not? Don’t we determine what our own (internal) personal ethical standards are? Who’re you calling a liar?

We all do this. The real question is to what degree do we lie and how “flexible” are our internal controls or personal ethical standards? Is it really a lie if we believe what we’re saying is the truth? What if our ego is so strong and effective at suppressing the truth that we can’t consciously remember our own lies? Are they then lies? Were they once lies but no longer since I can’t remember them? Is it a lie if it can only be accessed through hypnotism? It really is amazing how much we lie to ourselves. The only solution I’ve ever found to this vicious circle is rigorous honesty, starting within.

When these artificial barriers that separate lies or self deceptions begin to slip or collapse, we experience a painful cognitive dissonance (created by our ego to provide “incentive” not to look too closely) which often manifests in the form of a disembodied fear or anxiety. We’re not exactly sure what’s bothering us because we still haven’t consciously acknowledged the issue that’s causing the conflict. But we’re extremely fearful and have a terrible sense of foreboding, which is created by our ego to compel us to reject whatever it is that’s upsetting our carefully constructed worldview. We become extremely anxious to rid ourselves of this feeling as quickly as possible. The fight or flight impulse kicks in.

After creating the pain of cognitive dissonance, our ego then rushes in to apply damage control in the same way the public keepers of the myth do. In the rush to alleviate the emotional pain we’re experiencing we’ll often grasp anything we can that will displace the cognitive dissonance and it’s accompanying pain, including more lies. Considering the landscape I just described, it’s a testament to our capacity for self deception and tolerance of accumulated pain that we can even make it through the day. Increasingly we can’t and this escalating collective dysfunction, our insanity, is being outwardly expressed through our public leaders, legislators, regulators and corporations.

 

Psychic Firewalls

The dynamic I just described, but only touched the surface of, is not well understood beyond the field of psychiatry and those who forge and manipulate public opinion, including government and Madison Avenue. Spend some time reading about Edward Bernays and the influence he had, and still has from the grave, on advertising and propaganda worldwide. Many things we think we know about ourselves and our world are myths we were told and now tell ourselves in order to avoid or soften the truth. We’re much more susceptible to manipulation than our ego is willing to admit. In fact, much of this manipulation depends upon our own egoic insistence that we aren’t that easily manipulated, thus leaving us wide open to the very manipulation we deny being susceptible to.

Because we remain willfully ignorant to the capacity of others to influence us, we spend our day wide open to subtle and not so subtle messages and influences. This is similar to how susceptible our computer would be to hackers and viruses if we turned off our firewall and antivirus and browsed the Internet. I’ve read articles describing how wide open computers are attacked within 30 minutes, swarmed like mosquitoes in the Bayou. Pull up the detailed log of the firewall activity on your computer and be ready to be shocked by what’s going on in the background.

Now consider how many TV commercials, billboards, radio spots, magazine advertisements, Internet messages and “placement advertising” inside the actual television programs you’re exposed to on a daily basis. Not to mention the wide use of subliminal messaging everyone denies using, but yet somehow it still finds its way into commercials and political advertising of all types. This is occurring psychically to all of us on a daily basis even as we insist it can’t and doesn’t happen.

We’re sitting ducks to daily psychological assaults, yet we’ve become so conditioned to it (or we simply deny it) that we passively assume the idea to purchase that yummy MacSnot burger is our own home grown idea. In 30 seconds, the TV tells us not only that we’re hungry but that the MacSnot burger with fries and a coke is precisely what we want…..now. It even tells us how to feel about it. “I’m Lovin’ it!” Watch the commercials closely because there’s an entire story played out in 30 to 60 seconds using images, voice, text and music.

As simplistic as this all sounds, imagine this message pounding away at your psyche 3 or 4 times a day for years. Now multiple this one message by the hundreds of large corporations and thousands of small companies scratching and clawing each other for 30 seconds of your ears and eyeballs and it’s no wonder we’re all zombies to some extent or another. Pull up some research reports on the fast food, automobile, soda, beer, and other Fortune 500 companies and take a look at their advertising budget. We are outnumbered and overwhelmed.

In fact, if you sit down with the family for an evening of TV viewing without a basic understanding of how your family is vulnerable to these influences, you’re in effect having unsafe psychic relations with every single slime ball advertiser and political or corporate propagandist the network can sell time to. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the social conditioning and predictive programming underway during the endless hours of mindless TV consumption we subject ourselves to each week.

And yet we convince ourselves its all good clean fun, harmless really. After all, we know the difference between fantasy and reality, right? Nobody is forcing us to buy those big screen TV’s and MacSnot burgers. I’m doing it of my own free will. Well, I contend we’re not. Consider spending some time reading about subliminal messaging and the advertising and propaganda industry and then we’ll have a discussion about free will. I promise you the average person will spend no more than half an hour reading about this manipulation before s/he throws the book out or clicks on another web page, declaring it too crazy or scary to be true. In fact, it’s a little too close to the truth for our comfort.

Our insanity is worrying about the PG-13 rated movie our 5 year old might catch a glimpse of while allowing his or her still forming mind to be assaulted and conditioned by everything else. Are we nuts? Well, funny we should ask because we are. And the movie rating system is brilliant reverse psychology because it infers that if something is rated G, it must be “good”. I know that’s not exactly what they say but that’s the psychological takeaway. I’ve always found it interesting that they don’t rate commercials. Which means all the commercials we see must be rated “G”, as in good and wholesome.

To sit down in front of the TV, radio, magazine, book or Internet without your psychic firewall fully engaged and updated is madness. And I contend that this continuous bombardment of conflicting subconscious messaging, social predictive programming and conditioning is contributing to our escalating insanity, which is reflected outward in the form of the Ponzi and the collective madness.

 

Stockholm Syndrome

The behavior displayed by the people at the commissioners meeting can’t be dismissed as on par with someone farting in public, with everyone hoping to ignore the stench so as not to embarrass the poor gaseous fellow or themselves. In my opinion, what was exhibited might be considered a form of slave mentality, that of a conditioned mind that doesn’t wish to confront a perceived superior for fear of being psychically or emotionally traumatized. And of course, always lurking in the background is the silent but implied physical threat, in this case by the armed sheriff standing guard next to the commissioners table.

As my friend told me how his fellow taxpayers urged him to protect the liar, I immediately thought about the Stockholm syndrome. This term was first (widely) introduced into the public consciousness (and then rapidly buried as too uncomfortable) when Patty Hearst was kidnapped and then allegedly conditioned by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). I’m not passing judgment on the SLA or Patty Hearst, just explaining the process and how we’re all subjected to the Stockholm syndrome.

Here was Hearst, who was forcibly taken against her will, and yet within two months had not only come to speak positively about her captives and their cause but then publically demonstrated her acceptance by robbing a bank with her captives. At least that was her defense at her later trial. Regardless, the Stockholm syndrome is very well understood by those who wish to use it against us.

Just look at the public’s reaction to the Ponzi for parallels. While many people are angry, many others believe what they’ve been conditioned to believe, that we can’t survive without the big banks. And there are quite a few people who can spout from memory the banking cabal’s talking points in an elevator minute.

The public’s behavior exhibited at the commissioners meeting also showed the characteristics of abused spouse syndrome or battered person syndrome, where the battered and abused spouse is desperate to avoid upsetting or angering the abuser for fear of receiving additional beatings. The battered spouse will not only suppress him or herself in order not to disturb or anger the abuser, but will also suppress or even attack others that threaten to disturb or anger the abuser, which was exactly what was happening in the commissioners meeting.

There are even strong parallels to the behavior exhibited by inmates in WW2 concentration camps. I’ve read easily a dozen books discussing the psychology of the people leading up to and including their internment and eventual execution. Most people don’t realize that many nationalities were sent to these camps and an in-depth reading shows a broad cross section of personalities, cultures and nationalities exhibiting the same symptoms in the face of systematic and calculated brutality.

It’s not a pretty subject to study and I’m in no way condemning or condoning their behavior. No one can ever say how they’ll ever truly react under any circumstances until they’re inside the madness. I was sickened by what I read, of man’s inhumanity to man, and I can only hope I’d be able to display the level of courage many exhibited leading up to and during their captivity and, for many, execution. But the sad fact is that these brave individuals and families were often fighting their fellow sufferers as much as the Nazis. And for those who believe it could never get this bad in America, that’s exactly what they (Germans, Jews, Polish, French, Russians etc) said to themselves right up to and past the point of no return.

We can also find examples of similar behavior in the terrible dysfunction evident in families of severe alcoholics or drug addicts, where enabling or calming behavior is repeatedly offered by the spouse and family. Lies and broken promises are frequently not (directly) challenged by the spouse and/or other family members in order not to upset the alcoholic or drug addict. This is done time and time again in the false hope that he or she won’t drink, drug or abuse if encouraged to behave.

Many times, family members will come to believe that they’re the ones causing or triggering the behavior of the abuser or addict rather than anything the abuser/addict is doing. They’re told this by their tormentor (the Ponzi says the consumer is saving instead of buying, the people aren’t borrowing, the unemployed don’t want to work, etc) sometimes followed by a verbal or physical beating (recession, bailouts with taxpayer money, obscene bonuses etc) to cement the conditioning. Unfortunately the victim often assumes responsibility for “fixing” the problem (higher taxes, less services, no cuts for military or the elites etc) yet they can’t fix something they have no control over. The victim’s effort to “fix” is intended to placate and defuse the situation, which simply enables all the parties involved to avoid confronting themselves and/or the abuser/addict.

This makes sense when we understand that the family believes they can control the situation by controlling their own behavior, since the addicted person is clearly out of control. No one wishes to admit that the addiction itself has total control over everyone. Many spouses of drug addicts or alcoholics will even go so far as to make sure there’s a supply of drugs or alcohol on hand at all times to placate the insanity. “I don’t want to upset my spouse or he (she) might beat the hell out of me. It’s better to keep him (or her) drugged or drunk so I can deal with the rest of the family.” I’m not mocking this type of behavior at all for I grew up in this type of dysfunctional family. I’m intimately aware of all the dynamics of this type of insanity, having suffered from its effects for decades.

Looking at the bigger picture of our economic system and our political leadership, we’re only participating in our own insanity if we won’t first recognize this dynamic and then talk about it. But to do so requires opening Pandora’s Box and we can’t do this because the first victim we must placate is ourselves. Many of these “ism” diseases are diseases of denial. The drugs, alcohol, food, abuse, sex etc are simply the outward symptoms of deep inner dysfunctions, many of which I suspect trace back to and are expressed as our larger social ills. We can’t separate our personal problems from our cultural and social problems. We are all co-dependent.

 

National Suicide by Suppressing the Natural Survival Instinct

Consider that the behavior outlined above is being exhibited by the general population with regard to Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary, the banking cartel, the nation’s corporations and the regulatory agencies. The list is endless. Like the battered and abused spouse or the spouse of the alcoholic or drug addict, we constantly and falsely embrace hope that our country and culture will get better despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

We as individuals and collectively as a nation cling to any false hope offered by our abusers rather than gather our courage, stand our ground and declare no more. Our thoroughly conditioned and abused (collective) mind is almost totally incapable of defending ourselves from the abuser as long as we remain in denial. In our mind, denial appears to be the “sane” (or the least insane) way to survive in exactly the same manner the Jews, Poles, Gypsies and Russians (to name just a few) of Europe denied it would ever get as bad it as did. This is a horrible illusion, albeit a persistent one.

The battered and abused spouse/person must either stand his/her ground or flee not only to survive but regain some measure of physical, emotional and spiritual health. Since we can never flee from ourselves we use denial to flee while still occupying our body. No wonder we’re so screwed up. We must ask ourselves what is it that’s compelling us to use denial to suppress our basic and ultimate instinct, that of survival? It doesn’t matter whether I’m talking about the battered spouse or the family and spouse of the alcoholic, drug or food addict (the list of addictions is endless) or the government and corporate abused citizen.

As far as I can tell, the mechanism used to defeat the survival instinct we should all be exhibiting NOW is centuries of conditioning of both the culture and the individual. And that conditioning is accelerating on an exponential curve because the body/mind/spirit is rapidly becoming unstable. Like a leaking quart container of oil that’s extremely slippery, our grip (and the conditioning) must grow stronger in order to maintain control. However, this additional force increases both the leak and the potential for a catastrophic loss of control. Without dealing with the leak, the end game is certain and inevitable.

We are the victims and the perpetrators of our own madness. This vicious and suffocating positive feedback circle of our insanity might simply exhaust itself like so many cycles before with only a few tens of millions dead if we didn’t also possess weapons of mass destruction, be they derivative or fusion. I’ll save that topic for another time. But I will say that only an absolutely and totally insane culture would not only produce these weapons in quantities dozens of times greater than needed to kill (again, be they derivative or fusion) but also produce a strategy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) or Too Big To Fail (TBTF) in order to protect ourselves from ourselves.

One of my favorite scenes in The Matrix, which was a wonderful examination of our individual and collective insanity, is when Cypher’s eating dinner in the restaurant with Mr. Smith at his table. Cypher is negotiating his re-assimilation into the hive, aka the Matrix. He says “You know….I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years you know what I realized? Ignorance is bliss.” Mr. Smith then states “Then we have a deal.” Cypher demands “I don’t want to remember nothing, NOTHING. You understand? And I want to be rich, you know, someone important….like an actor.” Mr. Smith, eager to please and seal the deal, replies “Whatever you want, Mr. Reagan.”

Sounds like the conversation we have with our ego and our leaders on a daily basis, doesn’t it? “I don’t want to remember nothing, nothing. You understand?” Our ego and our leaders are telling us whatever we wish to hear and believe. And the most important thing these lies create for us is the blissful ignorance we all crave in order to escape from our own insanity. So we fuss and cry a little until mommy brushes her nipple near our mouth. We know what to do from there, don’t we? And the selection of an actor as someone who’s important was priceless, since we’re all acting as sane individuals on our way deeper into our collective insanity.

Finally, one must laugh so as not to cry at the double dose of insanity of first demanding we not remember anything and yet requiring we “be someone important”. Even though we won’t remember if that order was actually fulfilled, even this final contradiction isn’t enough to prevent our willing embrace of the coming psychic numbness that ignorance will provide us during our suicide. Upon achieving blissful ignorance, Karma may place me in the bottom of a septic tank on clean out duty rather than playing second lead across from Marla Singer, but what does it matter because ignorance is bliss? You just can’t make this shit up because it wouldn’t be believable, a term which describes a measure of our intolerance for slices of the truth.

The standing of our ground must begin on an individual basis before it will ever materialize in the collective. The country/collective as a whole will not suddenly grow a set of balls overnight if we as individuals don’t posses them to begin with. Courage and power flows up from the individual, not down from the group. Just ask any military officer if this basic concept is true. Each soldier is conditioned to fight for his or her fellow soldier, not for him or herself.

This conditioned act of selflessness is what creates the collective consciousness of the fighting force and emboldens the group, which acts as a positive feedback loop that also feeds the individual. Each soldier willingly submits to the group, contributing to and feeding from the same source. But it all begins with the individual. Each individual must accept and surrender to the group in order to gain strength from the group, which in turn strengthens the individual.

 

Breaking the Conditioning

Breaking the conditioned mind is not as high a mountain to climb as you might think. Let me continue the story of the county commissioners because there’s more to be learned here. While my friend didn’t enjoy being ostracized by the hive members nor admonished by a few commissioners for daring to speak truth to power, he was able to “embarrass” the commissioners into upholding their sworn duty and talk about the lie.

And the tax rate wound up being set where it was supposed to be, at a 16% increase rather than 20%, admittedly a small but still vital victory. It wasn’t the ultimate tax rate that mattered; it was the fact that there was a fight for the truth that was of utmost importance. He had set a small but important precedent that could now be followed and hopefully repeated.

As he left the meeting, many of the very same people who had publicly shushed him inside stopped him and expressed their gratitude that he spoke out at the meeting. They were genuinely happy he’d stood his ground, despite their initial misgivings. Rather than be vindictive (and my friend assured me that his urge to verbally slap them was nearly overwhelming) he thanked them and then gently asked them for support the next time this happened.

These people weren’t country bumpkins or undereducated blue collar workers. He counted among them a lawyer, a professor at the state college, the local pediatrician and various business men and women mixed in among the “common” folk. And surprisingly the local county judge, along with other well dressed and obviously professional people he didn’t know or recognize. These were average to higher educated people who supposedly were well informed and highly motivated. This shows that we can’t hide in the myth that our problems are caused by the great unwashed and uneducated masses. It’s simply not true and shows our own unwillingness to speak truth to ourselves.

Many of my personal experiences are similar to my friend. I find that it’s the more highly educated and more financially well off (the middle to upper middle class) who perceive they have too much to lose by upsetting the apple cart and speaking truth to power. Thus they have a greater tendency to self censor, stuff their opinions and allow themselves to be intimidated by perceived higher powers. They are their own conflict of interest when protecting their own interest and will often bargain with themselves in order to keep what they have. Thus they willingly lose the small battles in the hope they’ll win the big battle, never considering that it will always be just small battles and they’re conceding every single one on the way down the slippery slope of denial.

While the poor and undereducated no doubt have their own delusions to contend with, for the most part they fully expect the better off to lie, cheat and steal and get away with it. They’re more realistic about their being victimized and thus they’re often less intimidated by power. I suspect some of this has to do with having very little to lose. I’ve said before that those with a great deal to lose will only act like they have nothing left to lose when they have lost it all.

 

Mother Nature’s Nose Candy

The poor and lower middle class are not the ones who are directly supporting the insanity in the same way as the middle and upper classes, which today might just mean anyone with a job. Zero Hedge readers must remember that we’re more likely to be the (small) exception to the rule merely because we’re visiting ZH trying to broaden our understanding. We can’t measure society based upon our views. But neither can we make broad and sweeping generalizations simply because we assume others are different, thus not as intelligent, motivated, aware etc.

I’ve made (and still make) this mistake myself and its seductive because it offers easy and compelling answers that conveniently mesh with my worldview. The solutions and answers I arrive at are telling me exactly what I want to hear. The endorphins and natural pain killers released by the brain when we hear or see what we want are dozens of times more powerful than that junk we can buy on the street corner or at the pharmacy.

No street pusher or head doctor could ever match Mother Nature’s selection of nose candy. And her “natural” high is mainlined directly into our blood stream faster than we can say Keynesian economics. Our insanity has made us natural junkies, wandering the intellectually barren streets for any information whore or economist pusher who’ll sell us anything that’ll confirm our perceived sanity, all so Mother Nature will release the good stuff. We blindly stumble back and forth from an arousing emotional high to an extremely painful cognitive dissonance to our next desperate fix to kill the pain. We’re no better than the filthy junkies we step over on our way to our hamster wheel in the corner office. Hold all my calls Martha; I’m getting high on Keynes.

 

Reinforcing Changed Behavior

Of course, at the very next commissioners meeting, a similar situation came up. But this time when my friend spoke up, a number of people immediately joined him in vocal opposition to the item on the table. Yes, he still had to go first but now he had some support. The abused had learned they could resist the powerful and live another day. And there was strength in numbers. My friend now reports that this flexing of citizen muscle has been growing for nearly a year and is to the point where people are engaging in other areas of the community.

It’s now spreading on its own and without his guidance. His fellow citizens found an exit from the madness of self censorship, of stuffing their objections and of feeling powerless. They escaped their subservience to their abuser and the self hate that comes from the groveling. And as an added bonus, the commissioners have been brought to heel. Everyone’s so intent on stopping the madness at the top that we never stop to consider that it all flows from the bottom, with ourselves on the first rung of the ladder. 

While he didn’t turn lambs into lions, the conditioned mind these people previously exhibited had been broken to a small degree. And every subsequent time they act against their conditioning, they become more confident in their ability to do so. They’ve begun to believe in themselves. They never liked being subservient but felt powerless to change their current condition because the herd, also known as the public collective consciousness, was acting the same way as they were and thus not supporting any desire they had to change.

We must remember that while we still retain the illusion we’re all free and independent thinkers and actors, in reality we’re highly codependent upon our masters for permission to do anything. This is why the conditioned mind will rarely break free on its own. It takes real courage for the abused mind to escape the psychological chains that bind. It’s not just the master that has control here but the entire cultural system and its psychological reference points that influence us, with all of them telling us we can’t fight back.

If you look critically at the messaging we’re receiving, we’re always told that it’s easier to go with the flow and to leave the driving to someone else. We’ve received no encouragement from the herd to overcome the risk of a lashing from the master if we resist. When my friend showed up and put his foot down, the others were at first frightened that blows were sure to follow, but then quickly became energized when they did not. He put an end (on a local scale) to an extremely powerful positive feedback loop that was acting negatively against the herd.

I’ve experienced similar results within my small community simply because I stepped forward and then asked others to help. The asking for help is extremely important because by doing so, we’re asking the others to invest in their future, to become active rather than passive, to be responsible participants and citizens rather than future victims. Asking for help also relieves us of the “oh oh, what did I get myself into now” buyer’s remorse of endless and thankless guard duty with no relief in sight. Finally, because we walk away with a sense of community healing and personal satisfaction, we’re more willing to stick our necks out again and again.

In Chapter 4 of this continuing examination of our collective insanity, we’ll look at the concept of control which leads to rethinking our perception of the problems and solutions, how fear is used to control us and how we use fear to control ourselves and how to make reality fresh every day. We examine the missing soldier dynamic, how it’s not what you have but how you use it and a visit with the Nailman, who explains that there’s no trying, just doing. You’re past the midway point so don’t stop now or you’ll miss the really good stuff.

 

Cognitive Dissonance - 06/07/2010

Welcome To The Insane Asylum – Our Collective Psychosis – Chapter Two

Suicide by Cognitive Dissonance

I’m always fascinated how I’m able to maintain two (or more) contrary views or beliefs in my mind, often without being aware they represent opposite positions. This of course makes them illogical and unsustainable. Inevitably, when I find myself troubled or irritable, a careful inward search usually finds a cognitive dissonance creating havoc in my mind which is often deliberately hidden from me by my ego. The sign of this dissonance is invariably the emotional pain or trauma I’m feeling at the moment. Sometimes I experience it as a fight or flight sense of panic that suddenly takes hold. Wow! Where’d that come from?

Why is it that every time I find some hidden cognitive contradiction or discord, it’s nearly always being promoted or obscured by my ego? There seems to be constant conflict between my unconscious, which is all seeing and knowing, my ego, where much of our daily business of living is conducted, and my conscious awareness, which now-a-days isn’t all that aware.

Why is my ego constantly shielding me from perceived dangers that may or may not really be harmful? Don’t I want to know the truth, to be aware of my world? Often when I explore these conflicts I find that some of these dissonances are trivial, almost like little white lies. But the ego doesn’t hide each conflict as a self contained unit, intact and in one place. They’re scattered all over the place because each piece is often used in multiple distortions and deceits, almost like an intelligent operating system conserving scarce resources and hard drive space. Only in this case, the intelligent operating system, aka the ego, intends to self deceive by way of subterfuge or outright lies.

It seems so contrary to common sense for the ego, which is clearly not well suited to managing our affairs on a daily basis, to be front and center 24/7. This conundrum led me to research the subject and much has been written on this by many authors to date. An interesting theory is that some catastrophic event or trauma experienced by our ancestors thousands of years ago catapulted our ego forward from its former reserve status as emergency manager in waiting. Julian Jaynes published some ideas on this subject back in 1976, ideas that are finally receiving the attention they deserve, principally because the science of imaging our brain while performing tasks has substantiated many of Jaynes suppositions.

The many suspected reasons for this egoic change are beyond the scope of this article. But it does seem clear that earth’s biological system has suffered severe damage because we (our ego) aren’t cooperating with nature. As I said earlier, our insanity doesn’t appear to serve our ultimate evolutionary purposes, though there are plenty of people who will argue that human activity is quite natural and normal. Ironically, insanely, we’ve convinced ourselves we’re normal when our actions might best be described as self will run riot. Many have inferred that our materialism is directly related to our egoic mind.

I’ve often wondered if the sequence isn’t the other way around, that as certain human cultures became more materialistic over the past three or four thousand years, they became increasingly toxic and ill from their growing self centered materialistic way of life. For the sake of this discussion, assume that materialism is ultimately unhealthy for humans for a whole host of reasons, a view I feel is unquestionably correct. If so, then the ego would see this materialistic “condition” as a continuous emergency, requiring the ego to remain front and center in order to “save” our consciousness and body from ourselves by shielding us from our most destructive tendencies.

This would be similar to our immune system rallying to protect our body from toxins that enter the body, even if we accidentally or intentionally ingested the toxins. The immune system (ego) protects itself by protecting the host, meaning us. Without the host body, the immune system (ego) has no function or ability to exist, thus it defends us from all attacks, even suicidal attacks by us against ourselves, either individually or collectively. The ego would be acting in much the same way the computers on those Mars rovers do, where various failsafe modes kick in when things start to go wrong. If nothing else, live to fight another day, even if the one we’re fighting is ourselves.

Our immune system doesn’t make value or moral judgments of the crisis or the host and neither does our ego. Nor would we want our emergency back-up system, the ego, to make value judgments in order to determine if it should step in or not because it might just make the wrong one. When its only purpose is to keep the system (us) alive, nothing else matters if the system is under attack. Maybe the ego is shielding us from our madness in order to protect us for as long as possible from our insanity?

Egoic Moral Suasion

Interestingly, from another point of view, this could all be a positive feedback loop gone terribly wrong. Maybe it was some ancient trauma that brought forward our formerly waiting-in-the-wings emergency manger to full time duty. But by being up front all the time rather than in the background, the ego is causing terrible long term destruction and distortions within us primarily because of the extremely blunt and unbalanced tools (mostly fear) it uses to control/influence us. We must remember that our ego sees itself as a separate entity and not necessarily “us”.

As the ego tries to clean up or control the mess caused by its constant presence, maybe it turned our natural tendency to store supplies for lean times into a materialistic obsession as some sort of a diversion from the chaos. The captain always makes sure there’s plenty of work to keep the crew busy, particularly during unsettled times. Remember that the ego is not bound by logic or rational reasoning, only by the desire for both the ego and the host to survive using the equivalent of moral suasion. Mostly this means fear, which can manifest as greed, lust, gluttony and other not so obvious fear based emotions. I’m basically talking about the 7 deadly sins.

The result might explain our current mad dash into materialism, which is promoted by our ego in order to distract us from the damage caused by the ego being in constant control and doing a poor job of it. In my view, our insanity is caused in part by our out-of-control ever present ego and partly because we have so completely separated from our center, our core being that for yens of thousands of years lived in harmony with nature. These two causes are not mutually exclusive and actually fit quite well together.

An example of this distraction would be the way we attempt to distract a crying baby with sounds, music or moving objects to divert their attention from their discomfort or trauma. Consider all the brightly colored toys you dangle in front of your son or daughter to quiet them down when they’re loudly letting you know they’re unhappy. The impulse to do this is definitely present in all of us, even if we don’t have children. Sit behind a crying baby on a plane and you’ll do anything to calm the infant short of jumping off the plane or physically hurting the child. This includes silly faces for the baby and angry faces for the mother.

Regardless we need to explain, or at least to understand, man’s suicidal obsession and addiction to materialism if we’re going to cope with our present condition. While there are many people on both sides of this argument, from my point of view man clearly does not co-exist with nature. This is contrary to the actions and behavior of nearly every single plant and animal species on earth, at least those who have not passed into extinction, a path we seem to be following.

I’ve always had a great distaste for the popularly held concept of evolution as “survival of the fittest”. If we look closely we see that in nature, it’s “survival of those who fit best within the whole” that best describes how Mother Nature works. And also our best chance for long term survival. Our delusion that technology alone will save us from ourselves is the best example I can use to illustrate our insanity. Nature in my opinion is the ultimate cooperative effort for the betterment of the whole, an egalitarian state if ever there was one. Passages in the Bible instructing us to hold dominion over the earth, including everything on it, seems to be a rationalization for breaking the sacred contract all inhabitants of Earth are bound by.

Let me step back to the original thought of our ego protecting us from our materialism. Since the ego is the emergency manager of the consciousness and the host body, it would make sense for the ego to see this unnatural materialism as a threat, both to itself and to the host body/consciousness. Because the ego is currently untethered, the ego would handle this situation the best way it could, using the only tools at its disposal, that of fear, self deception and self deceit. Humans (as we currently are) have existed for tens of thousands of years. So from the ego’s point of view, this short period of insanity (the past couple thousand years) must simply be suffered through until our collective sanity returns. Maybe our ego really is protecting us from ourselves until we get better. I went insane and all I got was this lousy T-shirt and a megalomaniac ego.

The native cultures of nearly all the continents were rarely as materialistic as the Europeans and Americans, despite possessing equal if not greater intelligence. And, at least for the North and South American native cultures, equal access to natural resources. So what happened? Why did the Europeans tribes diverge from hundreds of similar cultures scattered throughout the world thousands of years ago, forsaking a more natural and homeopathic relationship with the earth for the naval gazing narcissistic materialistic approach that eventually destroyed (and is still destroying) all those cultures unlucky enough to be blessed with our presence?

Since every other culture had the same opportunity to break off, and for the most part did not, what came over the Europeans? Why were they afflicted with this insanity? From this point of view, our “Material Girl” culture might truly be a mental/spiritual sickness or illness as I’ve been suggesting when I call us insane. The native American Indians (to name just one indigenous culture) express exactly this opinion, calling it the white man’s disease. Consider that the duties of the shaman were to teach his people how to keep the ego under control and in the back seat of the canoe. How and why did it all go wrong in Europe? It appears that this materialism truly began to fester as Europe came out of the Dark Ages.

While the entire world was also immersed in this Dark Age, the other cultures did not seem to be as afflicted as the Europeans. Look at the Muslim Middle East, the Far East of China and Japan; even Africa and the Americas didn’t suffer as Europe did. These regions exited the dark ages more or less intact. Was this where the ego virus finally took control and infiltrated the human mind, in Europe during the dark ages? If only we could call upon Sherman and Mr. Peabody and their WABAC (“wayback”) machine for a trip back in time. I suspect we would find that our (winners) history books would need to be revised.

It’s Not Me, It’s You.

Regardless of the reasons for our insanity, the biggest and most destructive lie of all is the one about those/they/them being the evil perpetrators and me/us/we being the innocent victims. We cannot see, let alone conceive, that living among and within our secret lies, self deceptions and illusions is what’s driving us mad and thus how false the perception of “us” and “them” are. We’re all part of a living breathing economic and social system and while on the surface there are definite distinctions, we’re all co-dependent.

Since nearly all of the intellectual, cultural and religious reference points that supposedly show us we’re sane were constructed by our insanity to feed and reinforce our insanity, how can we trust them? I suspect this alone would drive us all quickly mad if not for the inner resource we all posses, the capability to recognize and understand “truth” at our very core.

I’m talking about our sixth sense, our gut, our instinct, that natural or innate impulse, inclination or tendency inherent in all of us to one degree or another. And which we’ve been conditioned to ignore, even reject, in favor of a “higher” influence, that of technology by way of cruise ships and cruise missiles, of central air conditioning and central government. This isn’t an anti technology statement, this is a pro human statement.

Technology itself is neither good nor bad; it’s how it’s applied and the people applying it and using it that I have a problem with. When discussing technology, advocates fail to recognize that humans have used technology for tens of thousands of years. The problem has always been bad cell phone reception. :>) All kidding aside, any tool is technology. Reed baskets to carry food or possessions, fire to cook and heat, carefully crafted stones used to cut, grind or pound, beasts of burden used to haul or plow the fields or as transportation, nets to catch fish or animals, fur or treated animal skins used as clothing, spears and arrows with stone points and so on. So the argument that technology is killing us is wrong and missing the point.

I’ve often felt that technology helps hide our growing distance from both each other and ourselves. One need only witness two people texting each other while ten feet apart to understand that statement. Consider how many of us are desperate for human contact yet will phone, text, chat and blog rather than walk outside and meet the neighbor we’ve been living next to for the past 4 years and don’t even know by name. Is this not the definition of insanity, of our collective madness? I relocated 12 years ago to the region I now live in. After moving in, I walked around to my nearest neighbors, knocking on doors and introducing myself. You would have thought I was a rapist asking for willing victims the way I was treated.

Worse, I’ve related this story to easily a few hundred people over the past 12 years, including friends, family and clients. And every single person shakes their head in agreement that it’s crazy I was treated this way, as if they never ignored their unknown and unnamed neighbors. It’s always someone else who’s showing signs of insanity, not me. This is sheer and utter madness; self centered narcissistic naval gazing taken to the suicidal level. It’s the cumulative concentration I’m talking about, not the individual incidents, which can always be easily explained away, thus maintaining our own denial.

Welcome to the Insane Asylum

The only way we can sustain our existence while surrounded by this self deception is to lie even more about it, which only serves to drive us deeper into our madness in an endless positive feedback loop of insanity. We’re all on an exponential curve to hell of our own making, nurtured by our insanity and perpetuated by our denial. First we deny, then we deny our denial, then we forget we denied our denial. Welcome to the insane asylum, where all are welcome and no one may leave, where everyone is both medical staff and suffering patient.

While in theory attendance in the asylum is voluntary, in practice it must be mandatory. However, in order to feed our delusion of freedom, our presence is seductively promoted as optional and cleverly disguised as choice. Attendance must be mandatory because any sanity within the madness acts as an antibiotic, eating into all the intertwined self deceptions and delusions that form the basis for the madness virus. Sanity quickly disperses the madness by cutting away the illogical and irrational threads that loosely bind our insanity together. Thus the reason why we never step back for a big picture point of view and why so much is left unsaid and unasked.

Sanity is a mortal danger to the collective insanity and must be cut out and removed if at all possible. Or at the very least, any sanity must be repressed at all costs. Aberrant thought or acts, defined as anything outside the range of 45 to 55 on a 1 to 100 scale, is quickly cauterized and rushed off the American Idol stage of life. Welcome to the machine we all claim to hate but from which we derive our subsistence and support. We have become psychotic cannibals eating away at our own sanity in order to remain comfortably insane. Oh the inhumanity of it all.

Just a few people living and acting sanely function as a “sane” super antibiotic powerful enough to kill off a much larger number of the insane faster than a wooden stake to a vampire’s heart. Insanity simply can’t tolerate reason, logic or compassion in precisely the same way truth becomes extremely dangerous to those whose intent is to deceive or to thieve. The leverage gained from a small number of sane people acting to counteract the insanity will be discussed in an upcoming chapter of this essay because it’s one of the keys to our Escape from New York.

I’m Certified Sane. What About You?

To deny that this cultural insanity is a part of us, to deny that it must be recognized and then treated collectively by us is equivalent to claiming that the open cut on our arm isn’t our problem because we didn’t ask for it, didn’t cause it and don’t want it; thus we most certainly aren’t responsible for it. So we ignore it as it progresses from open cut to festering wound to stinking puss filled gash to gangrenous mass to agonizing death. Since everyone else acts the same way, the herd reinforces our individual and collective behavior as the one and only proper conduct allowed and acceptable.

We’ll ride our righteous indignation, which we concoct to rationalize and justify our inaction, all the way to our grave, screaming at the top of our lungs as we reach for the white light at the end of the crazy train tunnel “See, I told you I wasn’t responsible for it”. Madness! This is madness masquerading as normalcy. And perfectly understandable when you consider that the madmen with the butterfly nets, meaning you and I, are making the rules and running the show. Why would we possibly endeavor to stick our heads out of our protective shells long enough to be decapitated. The genius of our insanity is breath taking, both figuratively and literally.

When considering our (human) behavior, I often apply what I’ve coined the “space alien observer test”. Animal behaviorists study their subjects over long periods of time in an effort to discern not only what’s going on but often the hidden reasons why. If we attempt to apply these same techniques to the study of ourselves, how does one study humans (us) if we’re all insane? If we accept that much of our behavior is natural and thus reasonable and logical, how can we see anything wrong with what we don’t recognize as abnormal? If you don’t expect to find abnormal behavior and all you do see is “normal” behavior, I suspect most everyone is going to get a passing grade.

The “experts” are particularly susceptible to falling into this trap, having been conditioned and indoctrinated by the very same system they’re now expected to critically examine. I’m a so-called expert, having earned the full gauntlet of personal financial planning and security analyst certifications. All that this extensive training and testing succeeded in doing was to teach me how to recognize what’s considered “normal” by the consensus and how to remain hidden in plain sight. Additionally I’m accepted by the other financial experts as one of the chosen. Until recently I was regularly invited to the club for drinks and dinner until I exposed myself (by dropping trousers) as a heretic and non believer. Damn, I’ll miss those Cuban cigars.

But all those calculations and charts are extremely convincing and unless I can regurgitate them come test time (and for continuing education) I won’t receive my accreditation as a “sane” expert financial planner/analyst. I occasionally make fun of my officially sanctioned and accredited sanity by saying “Hi, my name is [CD] and I’m a recovering financial planner. It’s been 12 years since I last planned.” Life’s good since I got clean and sober and interestingly my clients are better off as well, at least financially.

All experts have an inherent conflict of interest. Since experts are officially considered by the hive elders as “sane” they must be the best judge of insanity, right? “Yup, that looks fine to me. Where do I send the bill?” Brings to mind a few Outer Limits programs where the poor sap is left to prove he’s sane after being diagnosed insane by insane people. The only logical (sane?) way to examine humans is to use non humans as observers, thus the reasoning behind my “space alien observer test”. Of course, this is (for now) simply an intellectual exercise unless any aliens passing as human among us want to volunteer for duty. :>)

Watch yourself carefully for a day or two. You’ll be shocked how nonsensical most of your behavior is and how difficult it would be to explain and rationalize our behavior to non humans, let alone your spouse. While we believe we spend the day actively engaged, thinking, weighting and considering, it’s surprising how much of our waking moments are spent on auto pilot and disengaged. This is when we’re vulnerable, when we’re distracted and dazed, when any remaining sanity slips and our programming takes over. I suspect the average person will quickly abandon our little experiment after he or she comes face to face with all the little dissonances and incongruities of daily living. It really is more comfortable back in the ignorant bliss of the collective insanity.

The Sliding Scale of Our Insanity

Many of us saw the 2008 crash coming well before the general population and we should acknowledge our insight and awareness. But this doesn’t mean we’re significantly smarter, more aware or better able to see other “truths”. And it doesn’t excuse us from our responsibility to fix our collective problems. In fact, our awareness instills in us the responsibility of the first responder. Just because we were the first to spot the burning house doesn’t excuse us from volunteer firefighting duties when the paid firefighters don’t show up. We don’t get to brandish this honor like a multiyear long insane asylum hall pass or a get-out-of-the-insane-asylum free card.

How many other lies can we truly be aware of if we won’t examine the primary lies within? For many, it’s too frightening to closely examine what we “know” because then we might be required to act. I know this not just from speaking to others but first hand after deep reflection and some soul searching. For a number of years I cooked up one excuse after another to justify doing nothing, including becoming a self appointed Paul Revere and riding from person to person spreading alarm and panic and doing absolutely nothing constructive.

But what a show I put on and it certainly was a soothing balm for my dishonesty. Waking people from their slumber without offering constructive and actionable pathways out of the train crash is cruel and unusual punishment after the fact, something I’ve been guilty of in the past. My actions were equivalent to performing surgery and removing the anesthesia half way through the operation. In many respects, waking the slumbering without offering a way out can’t be justified morally.

I’m about to experience a car crash and my spouse is sleeping in the passenger seat. Do I wake my spouse to witness the crash or do I ask her to help me navigate around the disaster? If all I have to offer is awareness to the impending disaster, I might as well let her sleep. Or I can grow up and accept my responsibility and lead the way out since I’m already awake.

BTW the slumbering mass instinctively understands the inherent danger of waking in the middle of major surgery. They also seem to understand that the vast majority of us really don’t understand the problem and have no viable solution to offer. Thus it appears to them we simply want someone else to enjoy the show with us as we view our collective suicide. This is why we’re regularly rejected by those we’re trying to awaken. I don’t blame them because given the choice; I’d remain asleep as well. We must be the solution and they will naturally awaken without any prodding by us. More on how this can be done in the later chapters.

So, are we simply a sub herd of the insane, tightly packed together for warmth in a corner of the insane asylum, our territory carefully marked out in gold to identify the Zero Hedge tribe? Speaking only of myself, I have a tendency to create mountains out of mole hills to justify my inaction, to prove to myself and anyone else who asks that I’ve considered all the variables and I’ve concluded that to do nothing is the best course of action. This is truly a self serving conclusion if ever there was one and I’m proud to say I worked hard to achieve it.

I suspect we’re convinced of our sanity simply because we can see more than those who wear hoods instead of blinders. I think, therefore I’m sane. I hate to break the news to everyone, but some of our leaders are certifiably insane by any standard. And yet many of them are extremely good thinkers, brilliant as a matter of fact. We’d better find a new test for (in)sanity because the one we’re using has a few flaws.

Satan Lives Next Door

The ultimate and most seductive form of hubris is that which is exhibited by the insane as we revel in the supreme confidence of our sanity. Anyone who has truly visited the depths of severe emotional instability will tell you that the climb back to sanity must be continuous with no pauses of any significance. It’s during those dangerous lulls that the backsliding begins and the vicious undertow of insanity pulls us back into the abyss. Simply stated, for those returning from the depths of hell, it’s either surface or drown. I seriously doubt we would recognize this process if it were reversed and we were sinking, as we currently are.

I’d say we’re already in the bowels of hell, which I describe as our madness, and our eternal punishment is no knowledge of our own insanity. Satan is my neighbor and I’m Satan to my neighbor. I’m certain that given the choice, I’d convince myself I’m in heaven to relieve the awareness of the pain of hell. Are we sane if we know at times we can be insane or are we insane if we know at times we can be insane? Maybe I have too much time on my hands, but these are questions I often ask. A life unexamined just might be an insane life disguised as sanity.

On that sliding scale of 1 to 100, where 1 is stark raving sane and 100 is stark raving mad, what’s the real difference between 29 and 39 or between 51 and 74? I submit that just because we saw the economic insanity in 2007 (or whatever date we use to label our awakening) doesn’t mean we’re now firmly planted at 1 or 5 or even 10 on the sane/insane scale. To think this is the case is to substantiate my thesis that we’re insane. The definition of sanity is not that we saw the insanity of the economic collapse coming. It was always obvious to the sane, considering the creation of the Fed in 1913 was this countries third stab at a central bank. This is an extremely low hurdle to overcome.

Isn’t saying we awoke to the insanity implying that we were insane at one point? Are we so sure we’re fully sane now? How can we tell? The first step is to ask the question and answer it honestly, since personal dishonesty leads to public dishonesty. There’s plenty more to see and learn. Now that we can clearly see some of what the insane cannot, maybe we should consider that the bar is set suspiciously low. While it’s personally satisfying to clear those hurdles, we’re only fooling ourselves if they’re only 12 inches off the ground. When an insane society selects the parameters to differentiate between sane and insane, it will select those parameters that include the greatest number of insane within the group declared and sanctified as sane.

I contend that the only qualifying parameter of sanity in our culture is simply membership in the majority, with the lowest uncommon denominator the line where we set the border fences. As far as I can tell, given the problems outlined above in determining our own sanity, maybe the best we can hope for is to say that out of all the insane asylum inmates, the measure of insanity is to identify those who have adjusted well enough to their insanity that they can’t tell they’re insane. It sounds to me like ignorance is bliss and madness is nirvana. I sure as hell hope they’re serving pina coladas there because I’m ready to party.

I’m also fairly certain that 90% of the world’s population would read those last few paragraphs and be confident of a few things. One, that I’m the one who’s insane and two, what does it matter if there’s nothing we can do about it? Leaving aside the first item for my therapist and me to work out (he’s certified sane so he won’t kick me out of the hive as long as my insurance pays the bill) if the second item were correct I would agree. What does it matter? But since quite a few of earth’s inhabitants (including the plants and the other animals) don’t seem very happy living under present conditions and this seems to be a cycle that endlessly repeats itself, then it does matter and it can change. Or at least that’s my delusion.

We create our world on a daily basis based upon the image we collectively hold of what we believe it should be. Since our perception is the only reality we know, it isn’t surprising that our reality matches our perception. Thus a perfectly formed circle of circular logic is created along with our reality. Conditions in the insane asylum are the way they are either because this is the way we want them to be or this is the way we think they should be or this is the only way they can be.
I would suggest we can change anything we wish as long as we can perceive and conceive it, for perception is reality. Saying we can’t change anything is just another symptom of our collective insanity. Let’s explore this further before you dismiss me as a madman. Which, based upon my own argument, I am.

Toxic Waste Dumps

We all have toxic waste dumps in our back yards which we individually and collectively allowed to accumulate for decades. We even have some of our own toxic waste buried there. But we won’t discuss it because if we don’t talk about it, it’s not real. Those whom we claim should be responsible for this mess are doing nothing about it. And I promise you they’ll continue to do nothing about it, regardless of the lies we tell ourselves concerning all those indictments, law suits and subpoenas suddenly cropping up all over the place, because we’re doing nothing about it. It’s all coal smoke blown up our collective butts because we’re doing the blowing.

“They” (meaning us) are stalling, acting out our insanity in real time. They won’t stop until we stop because they’re following our script and our lead. It hurts to admit that we’re the architects of this madness, that we have anything to do with this mess. So we deny, then we deny our denial, then we forget we denied our denial. I love circular logic because it’s so logical and to the insane (us) our insanity is wonderfully logical and reasonable. Madness is always pure in form and function. Any loose ends are quickly cut adrift because insanity makes it up on the fly. Insanity is not a slave to rigid logic, which makes it deliciously attractive and extremely well attended.

The Ponzi amusement park ride won’t dismantle itself simply because we ask it to do so for the hundredth time. BTW, don’t forget to ask nicely because we can’t have social unrest. Which if we think about it would be us acting out against us because we’re angry with us. (That was fun to write.) Nor will it stop even if we hang a few patsy leaders. There are always more swine ready to belly up to the trough after one is dragged off to the butcher’s for taking more than its share. The spectacle of the slaughter satisfies our sense that something needs to be done with the troublesome swine (not me though) while at the same time not derailing the consumption machine that feeds our own comfortable insanity. We just wanted to blow off some steam, really, and the ham and bacon are welcome by-products.

It appears there’s a colossal struggle going on right now. The powers that be are attempting to maintain their denial (our denial) of a deflationary debt collapse and escalating political and social conflicts. They (we) attempt to do this with their endless printing of fiat currency, bailout and bailout, public debt creation and private debt assumption. Their (our) efforts fly in the face of the inevitable collapse of all social, economic and political systems dependent upon the false realty the powers (we) are attempting to maintain. This battle has ebbed and flowed back and forth for centuries, but now appears to be headed for the largest global explosion mankind has ever created. An explosion many will not survive, though there’s still time to turn the ship to prevent total catastrophe.

Mirroring this state of affairs (or if you accept my argument, the source of this state of affairs) is the human race itself. We’re engaged in a titanic struggle with ourselves. As we’ve drifted further from our inner natural spiritual consciousness and authentic life, we’ve repudiated our responsibility to live in peace and harmony with all of earth’s living inhabitants in a sustainable and equitable manner. We’ve driven ourselves insane and we face imminent murder/suicide by our own economic and social creations. In effect we’ve been taking more from one side of the equation than nature and we are adding to the other side and balance is beginning to assert itself.

This is more than an oil or technology issue or event. This is a tale about our effort to reject everything we were, are and could be in a mad dash to extract more and more material pleasure from a physical and spiritual universe that has only so much elasticity. It’s not about finding new worldwide energy sources in order to continue our materialistic life style. We are in denial of our true inner source of strength and power. We have allowed ourselves to be seduced by the illusion of receiving something for nothing for quite some time now. We’re a willing participant in our own madness and while we know this, we signal our denial by claiming it’s someone else who’s the guilty party.

Man is addicted to far more than just cheap energy and technology. We’re hooked on the superficial power of Gods at the expense of everything else around us, including ourselves. Like an addict who no longer scores to get high but simply to stave off the pain of withdrawal, the thrill is gone and the old glorious highs of yesteryear are just a fuzzy pain filled memory. Our deal with the devil, with ourselves really, is coming due and we’re rapidly slipping into total madness to avoid the recognition that we’ve met the demon and the demon is us.

Even if the reader doesn’t agree with the thesis I’ve offered, there’s little doubt the big picture I’ve sketched is accurate. The fecal matter is clearly on an accelerating trajectory towards the fan. So what am I going to do about this? What are you going to do about this? What are we going to do about this? If not us, who? If not now, when? These are legitimate questions that must be asked and answered regardless of our righteous indignation over the unfairness of the burden. We are the one and only solution to “we” the problem.

Do we really think we can step aside and watch the insanity work itself out to some unknown conclusion and not be splattered with stray brains and fecal matter? Worse, do we think this is someone else’s problem? When it really gets bad, we can’t escape to some off world safe house as intergalactic tourists, where we mingle with the friendly natives until the fat lady sings it’s time to return. This is not sane thinking. If it is, then beam me up Scotty because I’m sure as hell ready. Maybe while I’m visiting I can sell those aliens some iPhones. Wait; doesn’t that make me the alien?

Up to now we’ve been working diligently to avoid responsibility. And the principal method we employ is our intellect, which is used to identify the surface problems and point to the culprits. We helpfully use labels like “they” or “them” to avoid acknowledging each of our small but critical parts in this ongoing charade. It appears that we’re just sitting around waiting for the end rather than rising to the challenge and meeting this crisis head on.

Incredibly, we seem to think our collective insanity will see the futility of its insanity and simply quit acting out its insanity. That the bull won’t break anything important to us while lose in the china shop. We really are expecting someone to step forward that we can quickly embrace as the savior. Whom do we suppose will pull us back from the brink? Is this not the ultimate in false hope seeking and wishful thinking? I’m pretty certain that sanity will be the last thing we demonstrate without first recognizing our own insanity. And without immediate intervention, the patient will die; only the death won’t be mercifully quick. Where’s our moment of clarity, that point of no return where one sees without a doubt that death is coming if everything doesn’t change?

Dis-Ease

Please don’t mistake my critical questions as blanket criticism. Nor that I’m above the fray and that I’ve had nothing to do with this. I’m fairly certain I’m contributing my fair share to this insanity. However, we must begin to ask the tough questions of ourselves as well as each other. We’re not innocent victims here and we need to recognize this. We shouldn’t feel terribly uneasy simply because tough questions are being asked unless we’re unable to answer them honestly. A healthy mind and body can always withstand a thorough self examination and often grows as a result.

Our modern society considers the definition of health to be the absence of disease. While I strongly disagree with this simplistic definition, for now let’s stick with it. The word disease breaks into “dis” and “ease”. A healthy mind and body is in a state of “ease” with itself and the world while an unhealthy mind and body is in a state of “dis-ease”. We express this condition by saying the mind or body has a disease or is diseased. If we’re going to point fingers at the lies of the Ponzi as proof of its “dis-ease”, we’d better be able to withstand the same assault or crumble in the face of our own hypocrisy and insanity.

It seems to me we’re reverting further and further into infantile behavior in order to avoid accepting any blame, however insignificant that might be. And damn if we’ll accept any responsibility for cleaning up a disaster we sure as hell didn’t cause. “Who’s responsible for this mess” we bellow in righteous indignation? “Not me” we reply. “I was in the bathroom when it happened. See the urine stain on the front of my pants. That’s proof I wasn’t there.” Well, that worked for me in second grade so why not now? “It’s not fair.” And on and on in an endless cycle of hide and go seek.

I agree! It’s not fair. It sucks. It bites the big one. We’ve been screwed, royally and repeatedly and without a reach around and a kiss on the cheek. The game’s rigged and the deck’s stacked. What can I say; we’ve been screwed, as in past tense. This is of course assuming we’re all victims with no personal involvement whatsoever. Exactly who is the abuser and who is the abused since many of us have from time to time benefited from the screwing of others, either directly or indirectly? Need I explain how we benefited? But for the sake of this sub-argument, let’s say we’re the victims and we now stand victimized. Now, what are we going to do about it?

What exactly are we waiting for? Or maybe I should say who exactly are we waiting for? I suspect the vast majority of people would laugh if I said I was waiting for the Green Lantern or Superman to save the day. So who do we really expect to step into this mess and pull our asses out of the meat grinder? At this point it doesn’t appear it’s going to be us. But that’s exactly who has to step up because there’s no one else.

How Do We Begin?

So let’s begin to turn this corner. How does one begin to talk about our collective insanity, about the things that are better left unsaid? Well to start, we begin by cleaning and disinfecting our wound, even if we don’t believe it’s our responsibility. It’s our wound and we’ll die if we don’t clean it. It doesn’t get any clearer than that. We must look for the exit and disembark from the crazy train. We must begin to discuss our crazy Aunt Alice, who’s been locked in the attic for decades. We must begin to acknowledge her existence with more than just whispered words of conspiracy. “Psst, it’s your turn to change the sheets for you know who.” We must begin to push through the pain of our collective cognitive dissonance, releasing all the emotional pain we’ve been desperately avoiding by denying poor Aunt Alice is alive and breathing.

Like a Jenga game gone mad, we stack lies upon lies in the insane belief that by applying more to the stack, we’ll lessen the burden and increase the stability. Each of us takes our turn preparing and serving Aunt Alice her meals, cleaning her clothes and brushing her hair. Yet we don’t discuss Aunt Alice among ourselves. How does one even recognize what truth is when we’re living a lie, when we welcome additional lies in order to be shielded from our earlier lies? Our insanity is that we believe we know what truth is when we’ve rarely seen it and have actively rejected it most of our lives.

In a society and a world as dysfunctional as ours, the only way to begin to seek the truth is to tell the truth, first to ourselves and then to others. But how can we do this when we can’t trust our own lying eyes or each other? We do so by rejecting what the external and internal control systems are telling us (lie, lie, lie and lie some more) while seeking a higher truth within. And by demanding those we deal with not lie, either to us or to anyone else around us. While doing so might cull a few friends from our calling circle, we need to start somewhere. And I understand this requires courage because we’ll be swimming upstream and against the current.

It’s of the utmost importance to understand that what is sustaining the lie, including the “Big Lies” our government perpetuates, is the unwillingness to question the lie. Unquestioned or unchallenged statements (aka lies) made by known or suspected liars (beginning with ourselves) become truth by default in the eyes of those who don’t wish to be honest. This starts with us.
If we aren’t rigorously honest with ourselves and those immediately around us, we’ll always succumb to the seductive call of lies that are more comforting than truth. “Daddy, tell me another lie so that I may pretend it’s the truth.” Additional lies have one purpose and one purpose only, to directly or indirectly support previous and/or future lies. What do we do when we find ourselves in a hole of lies? We stop the cycle of lies supporting lies by applying a novel solution. Demand the truth, both from ourselves and from those around us.

This is precisely the purpose of Zero Hedge. Tyler, Marla and company stand on the soap box in the middle of our cultural town square and repeatedly cry foul regarding every lying utterance of the control system. This includes lies perpetuated by the keepers of the myth, our so called main stream media and their talking head “experts”, along with various other sycophant hanger-on’s and enablers. But it’s not enough for Zero Hedge to fight this battle single handedly.

We’re deluding ourselves if we think that reading and commenting on Zero Hedge is fighting the good fight. And we’re also deluding ourselves if we think we can just sit back and watch it all burn. That cut on our arm is starting to smell a bit putrid. We might want to consider some self treatment. We must do more and it must begin within. If we’re only willing to accept the truths that we’re comfortable with or those that neatly fit our worldview and ignore anything that creates a cognitive dissonance, we’re in effect enabling the continuation of the public lies and myth making and are no better than “they” or “them”.

In Chapter 3 of this continuing examination of our collective insanity, we’ll begin to unfold the dynamics of the public lie, our often unconscious defense of the public lie, setting up our personal psychic firewalls, the Stockholm syndrome and the dynamics of the family when dealing with the addicted/abuser, Mother Nature’s nose candy, how we can break the conditioning and then reinforce the changed behavior. Please join me for the third lap of the pool.

Cognitive Dissonance 06/04/2010

Welcome To The Insane Asylum – Our Collective Psychosis – Chapter One

All Aboard the Crazy Train

All amusement park rides have one characteristic in common. Regardless of the twists and turns of the experience, the exit is always at the end. This examination of our collective and individual dysfunction, our insanity, follows a similar path. We start with the identification of a few of the bigger picture issues, then move closer for a critical inspection of several of the individual and cultural dynamics and end with some guidance towards the lighted exit sign and one possible way out.

I’ve never been more confident in humanity’s ability to finally throw off the chains that bind. But (and there’s always a “but”) this can only be accomplished using the powerfully disinfecting sunlight of awareness and understanding. This is usually achieved through self reflection, self actualization and eventually enlightenment. A common misperception among many is that the general population is not intelligent enough to become aware and enlightened. The awakening process has nothing to do with our IQ and everything to do with our EQ or Emotional Quotient.

If we can be conditioned by fear and narcissistic naval gazing to be self destructive, we can be encouraged to be emotionally and spiritually healthy as long as we don’t look to our leaders for guidance. In fact, we must not transfer the responsibility for our own well being to others for this is simply an invitation to manipulate and extort us. There’s no single solution, no magic button to be pushed that makes everything better, allowing us to go back to our comfortable insanity. Ultimately our own unique journey is a deeply personal and individual experience and while the direction is clear, the path is customized by each journey.

There is no softer easier way, no short cut through the maze and no one to walk the path for us. I know this because of my long and at times difficult personal experience overcoming self erected obstacles as well as those placed there by my culture and country. I’ve tried every path I could possibly imagine before eventually settling on the only one I could find with an exit. That alone should be encouraging to many because until a few years ago I didn’t think there was a way out.

And I’m not alone because many people I talk to still feel it’s hopeless. The question (in my mind at least) is no longer can we save ourselves but what’s the process that must be followed in order to make the lasting changes needed to not only survive but grow and prosper. Make no mistake about what I’m saying; there will be pain no matter what we do or don’t do. But there is pain during healing as well as pain during destruction and we have a choice.

Swimming in the Shipping Channel of Life

The answers are deceptively simple, which makes it difficult for most people to accept when we’ve been conditioned to believe that complexity requires complex solutions. Nothing could be further from the truth. When one finds they’ve dug themselves into a hole, the first rule to follow is to stop digging. Since we’ve been trained all our lives that digging’s what we do, it’s almost heretical to ponder anything else. Considering how our narrow view benefits certain select “others” we should question everything we believe once we’ve stopped digging and are looking for a way out.

As with all my work, I ask the reader to consume it in it’s entirely, in the order presented and to leave all sections in context. I’ve broken this essay into multiple parts (5 at this point) for easier consumption. But it really doesn’t work unless it’s read as a continuous thought process. So I suggest you read each section in order because this isn’t 5 independent articles, but rather one article broken into 5 separate pieces.

Each section won’t necessarily make sense on its own unless you’ve read the preceding sections. Even then it might not make any sense, but I’m only responsible for my insanity. You’re on your own. This silliness started out as a one or two page blurb but quickly morphed into Godzilla like proportions. Consider it the insane leading the insane and have some fun while expanding your mind.

May I also suggest that you read each section twice, something I usually do when reading anything new? Reading it the first time trips all the objections my ego comes up with, which exposes my deep conditioning and indoctrination. My ego always defends my consciousness from the inevitable cognitive dissonance I experience when I read something that contradicts what I think I believe.

Basically my ego lies to me and then defends those lies using the pain of cognitive dissonance. The first reading clears out all those trip wires and leads the way for the second reading, which talks directly to the reasoning, common sense and empathy centers of my consciousness. If I really enjoyed what I’ve read, it gets a third reading for the pure joy of it. And of course to make sure the new conditioning has been properly assimilated.

Have you ever noticed how upon reading something a second time, you’ll often find words, sentences, even entire paragraphs you somehow missed the first time around? It’s amazing how blind we are when our ego gets in the way. Since this essay discusses subjects that are not exactly consensus opinion, expect to experience a few ego elevator drops.

I also swim pretty far from the pier of the commonly accepted understanding of “reality” in the later sections of this essay so expect some disorientation and wrinkled fingers and toes. The good news is that I’m beginning to find physicists and various other scientists swimming in the “what is reality” discussion philosophers have had to themselves for centuries. So at least we won’t be alone as we tread water near the shipping channel buoys. I do hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it. I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments section.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

In an alternative universe such as Disney’s Magic Kingdom or Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it’s always easy to distinguish the good guys from the bad, the truth from the lie. It usually has something to do with horned red devils and fire breathing dragons, with cotton tail bunnies and bizarre flying monkeys. We were weaned from mother’s breast with mythical tales of gallant white knights and long haired princesses, ancient stories originally intended to inform us of life’s wisdoms, pitfalls and hazards.

But our modern myths and fairy tales only serve to obscure, propagandize and pacify. Rarely do we question the content of anything we consume that’s entering through our five (six) senses. If a new offering appears to be reasonably consistent with what was recently consumed, access is granted with little or no critical assessment. Just go with the flow dude because it’s coming straight at you in torrents. After all what harm could a few TV sitcoms and dramas do to us, let alone the news? I certainly know when someone’s pulling my strings don’t you?

Most of us rarely consider the possibility that much of what we “know” isn’t actually based in reality, but is in effect a shared illusion, an unspoken and shared understanding between the natives. Our modern world is readily accepted and acted upon simply because there’s no serious consideration given to alternatives. After all, someone’s watching the store, right? We’re placed on an endless tread mill beginning around age 5 (some would say even earlier) and we’re assured this is normal and natural and everything that can be expected.

I know what I know because my parents and teachers taught me, my government and corporate approved propaganda reinforced it and now my TV and Internet are reinforcing the reinforcement. So it must be true simply because it all adds up to a staggering preponderance of evidence. We’re assured it’s all as real as an eighteen wheeler hard on our ass and trying to pass. Besides, everyone else pretty much believes the same thing we do with only minor variations. They can’t all be wrong! So don’t fight it, just go with the flow.

However, upon closer examination, much of this evidence is validated through circular logic, with Alpha supporting Beta which supports Alpha which supports Beta. On those rare occasions when contrary information enters the system and startles our consciousness, it’s quickly washed out as an outlier or fat finger. Madness and insanity, or dysfunction for those faint of heart who object to strong terms, is always self reinforcing, self perpetuating, self replicating and tolerates no contradictions. It is pure in form and function.

Unfortunately the world we live in isn’t quite as black and white as our story books, moving media and authority figures would have us believe. Instead, like some choking coal smoke that settles into every crack and crevice, we see nothing but endless permutations of gray wherever we gaze. It’s not very satisfying, is it? Where are the clear cut boundaries, where good begins and evil decays? Where are the brightly colored super heroes to contrast the dark evil villains? We can’t always tell them apart when they’re all covered in shades of gray.

I Can See Clearly Now, the Gray is Gone.

But wait, I think I know how to see through the haze. All it takes is an adjustment to my perception, a new set of spectacles for my senses. Like an old black and white TV, our most important sensory control knobs are brightness and contrast located between the ears. Between the two, everything can be brought into sharper focus. I’ll just be the good guy and everyone else can be bad. I can see clearly now, the gray is gone. It’s gonna be a bright bright sun-shiny day.

A consistent theme in various articles and comments are the angry denunciations of those (never ours, always they or them or those) evil bankers and corporations, the complicit mass media, a compliant regulatory authority and droves of corrupt government officials at the highest levels. And don’t forget the dead-to-the-world great unwashed masses. We complain they’re all engaged in an unprecedented (at least for modern times) take no prisoners thieving and feeding frenzy of those very same masses. And somehow we’re different, separated from the masses and the evil doers by our understanding and awareness of the fix that’s in.

Of course (we tell ourselves) this is being orchestrated by the powers that be, which can usually be found cowering behind the heavy curtains of the control system. They’re the ones pushing the levers and pulling the puppet strings, enslaving us with their fiat currency pushed by the black banking cabal without our consent and against our will. Here’s the proof, in black and white. Can’t you see it, there’s Professor Plum in the parlor with the candlestick?

And all of this may very well be entirely true. In fact, I believe much of it is. But it’s also mostly irrelevant to the one thing many of us are searching for in this filthy stinking mess. While it’s not voiced very often in the articles and comments, the great unanswered questions of this epic disaster are basic. Why is this happening? How are “they” able to get away with it? What is it about man that permits this cycle of greed and corruption to build to a climax and then recede, endlessly repeating the same cycle since well before Christ the Son of God or Ra the Sun God?

When will we accept that “they/them/those” won’t fix anything and it’s up to us to lead so that our leaders can follow? In the biggest paradox of them all, the underlying presumption is always that the machine itself works reasonably well if only the madmen were removed from the controls. But who put them there in the first place and won’t they just be replaced with more? We don’t question the basic systems, only the perceived faults of individual parts and mechanisms. We fiddle with the wires, connections and duct tape while the bomb is still ticking, collectively oblivious to the obvious.

I assure you with absolute certainty that I don’t have all the answers. But I can also assure you with equal certainty that we’ll never find the answers unless and until the questions that really matter are not only asked and examined, but that it’s done honestly and openly. In a world gone mad, sanity won’t be embraced or embodied until we examine our own insanity. Otherwise all we’re doing is soothing the savage beast within until this cycle ends and the next cycle of madness begins, bringing with it the next turning of humanity upon itself. While the reader may complain that I ask too much of us, that the problems are too big and the powers too strong; consider that it may only appear that way because we see the issue as one huge problem. This is an illusion.

Icons of Insanity

I’m using the words insane and madness in this essay not only to grab your attention but because I believe those are the proper words to use. But the inherent problem in using them is that the popular perception of insanity has been shaped by novels and TV. When one sees or hears the words insanity or madness, most people instantly visualize a serial killer randomly stalking victims before slashing them to pieces. Or maybe one thinks of a totally dysfunctional asylum inmate zonked out on Thorazine, specks of spittle clinging to his lower lip while drool drips down the side of his mouth. Our popular culture is chock full of these images, from A Clockwork Orange to a Freddy Krueger. For the purposes of this essay, wash those images from your mind because our collective insanity is much more presentable and socially acceptable.

Despite these image problems, I’m still going to use the words repeatedly because the reader needs to understand that I do mean deranged, not fully aware, acting strangely or at cross purposes to one’s own long term survival. Some of the words used in the definition of mad or insane help to explain my meaning further, such as mentally disturbed, extremely foolish or unwise, imprudent, irrational, confused, extreme impulsiveness, unsafe, wildly impractical or foolish, ill-advised, dangerous, senseless, reckless, unsound, maniacal, angry or ill-tempered. You get the picture.

I expect the reader’s ego response to being accused of insanity might be immediate and visceral and quite possibly insulting. I ask that you push past that initial impulse and understand that there are various levels of insanity, including high functioning and socially adapted. If you’ve come this far in the essay, let’s go the rest of the way. It’ll only hurt until the Thorazine kicks in.

Our Cultural Insane Asylum– Welcome to the Machine

The economic, social and political atrocity we’re not only witnessing but living isn’t their insanity, it’s our insanity; individually, collectively and culturally. This insanity, our insanity, is being outwardly manifested in individuals and groups, effectively in all of us to some degree or another. We our engulfed by our insanity in the same manner some wretched character in a Greek or Shakespearian tragedy is consumed by an angry God, the devil or some other ill-tempered spirit. Today’s modern calamity is the compiled manifestation, expression, reflection and symptom of all the ugly lies, half truths, spin and self deceptions our society leaves unsaid, does not discus, hushes up, hides from view and buries in the back yard of our minds.

Our inner dysfunction, while most certainly affecting us personally, is also expressed outwardly through us individually and collectively and in varying degrees and manner. And sometimes it’s focused within certain people and/or groups of people. Or more accurately, our collective insanity is acted out by or within certain people or groups of people. Does this concept sound farfetched or even crazy? Why is it so easy for us to recognize someone else’s insanity or to see that a group of people are acting crazy or insanely and yet not see it within ourselves or in our own culture? Why can’t we recognize that we might very well have the same insane or unstable tendencies as those we’re pointing towards? Are we pointing our fingers away from us so that we may deny the source?

Why do we so easily accept the concept of herd mentality, that people, either physically grouped into crowds or scattered throughout the world, can act as one (think of the markets) yet we reject this concept when it comes to madness, insanity or dysfunction? Why do we readily accept the phrase “The world went mad during WW 2” yet not think it was our own individual madness that we and the world were acting out? Why do we always exclude ourselves in part or whole from those or them?

Maybe we do accept the statement but don’t see how it relates to us. I know a few people who easily accept the idea that the world can/could/did go mad but not him or her. So are we saying it was everyone else that was insane but not us? If so, does this not illustrate our own dysfunction, to think we would be immune and not affected by what’s tormenting the entire world? We seem to have this serious mental and emotional block that prevents us from seeing the obvious. Of course, it’s our ego that’s blocking our vision and awareness, a subject I’ve examined in more depth in a prior article.

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/end-empire-waking-zombie-nations-psychology-consciousness-and-egoic-mind

Precisely because of our intellectual and emotional inconsistency, helped along by our self deception, we can delude ourselves into thinking we’re OK. Often we’re encouraged in this self deception by outside forces that fan the flames of self delusion for control and manipulation purposes. One of the many ways is through the display of individuals who are obviously and intentionally different from us. They’re usually close enough to us for easy comparison thanks to TV and the Internet. But don’t dwell too long on the comparison because that might ignite self reflection. So the control system relies on quick glimpses that satisfy our need to feel superior, and thus separate, before the next manipulative image is presented.

Cultural Insanity Reinforcement - American Idol Style

Consider that a key component of the American Idol talent “competition” is the initial programs, where fool after fool is paraded before us. The canned laugh track encourages us to laugh and mock their inferiority and non conformity, thus enabling us to feel comfortable with our homogenization and normality. This concept is ripped from the pages of 1984, where the carrot and stick approach is used to corral us into the hamster pens to work another day.

The carrot is acceptance by the welcoming and nurturing hive, where group think is rewarded and uniformity and conformity is applauded. The stick is to publically ridicule anything that the hive considers abnormal and thus subhuman, which of course can’t be a part of the hive. It’s unthinkable to suffer this, a fate worse than death that of banishment from the hive. See how abnormal those dancing and singing fools are? Only a crazy person would allow themselves to sing that poorly or act that stupidly on TV.

Carefully mixed in with the fools are the soon to be “discovered” hidden gems, which look just like you and I. Our mediocrity is validated because those gems look just like everyday people who escaped from the streets. “Oh look honey, another slave has escaped. I could as well if I practiced harder on my clarinet and got that boob job. If I work some overtime for the next few months at the hamster wheel factory ………”

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the more talented contestants aren’t seeded into the show by the producers. There are many ways to do so. Regardless, the result has the intended effect; wonderfully talented but tragically and unfairly ignored men and women (invisible nobody’s like you and I) are finally discovered, their hidden talents recognized and validated by the world. They’ve hit the big time and they fulfill every person’s fantasy through emotional transference, thanks to perseverance and our 50” HD surround sound LCD TV.

And the fools, after being stripped naked and displayed for the crowd to jeer and stone, are thrown out of the hive as unwanted trash, not even worth the nickel deposit, their part of the charade now complete. Later, as some of the formerly hidden gems rise up the ranks (watch carefully how they’re steadily transformed with coaching, makeup and costumes) we allow ourselves to follow along, nurturing our fantasy that this too could be us. Thus we ascend God like into the glow of the adoring public, enabling us to feel superior while we wallow in our mediocrity.

And don’t forget the text voting, that wonderfully democratic principal that allows us all to participate in the crowning of our next plastic Idol on the dashboard of life. It must be true that I’m a singing fool because my fellow slaves elected me to the throne. The genius of American Idol is not in the music, costumes and coaching, it’s the magic that happens in the editing room and the manipulated voting.

Would Goebbels Like Reality TV?

There’s an extremely good reason why “reality” television shows are so popular. While we’re encouraged to suspend reality while watching regular TV dramas in order to enjoy the program, we consciously know it isn’t real, though unconsciously we make no such distinction. But with “reality” television it’s real, right? It not only could happen but it is happening. Isn’t that the entire concept of “reality” TV, that it’s real?

Leaving aside the understanding that “reality” TV is highly choreographed and elaborately staged; the illusion is that it’s real. This allows the viewer to be swept up along with the contestants as they morph from cocoon to butterfly, taking fictional character empathy and self identification by the viewer to much higher levels than previously thought possible. Goebbels, who until now had been the anointed master of the “Big Lie”, must be screaming in a jealous rage as he rots in his grave. And you thought this was just a talent show or a competition of “survival” on a tropical island.

This method of cultural conditioning is highly effective even when the viewer is aware of the dynamic, just as long as that person is somewhat dissatisfied with their life and is searching for meaning and understanding outside of themselves rather than within. And the higher the IQ and financial earning power of an individual, the higher the likelihood they’ll be searching, particularly among those who are growing weary of our consumer culture.

Some are beginning to recognize that we’ve been conditioned to believe happiness can only be found in an automobile or an iPhone. But where do we look when the hive actively discourages exploring anywhere but on the TV. After all, isn’t that the purpose of American Idol, to inform you of what’s acceptable and what’s not?

Look at the viewer demographics of American Idol for the proof. The average Idol (Idle?) viewer is anything but run of the mill in nearly all the demographics, with higher than average IQ and better than average income. This is you and I folks, not simply the average blue collar beer swilling Joe we like to point to as the problem cattle in the mindless herd. I’ve seen the cattle and the cattle are us.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

We as individuals, as a culture and a society, are only as sick as our deepest darkest secrets and lies. And all those buried and unspoken falsehoods surround us like an endless unmarked and unexplored mine field. On top of that, the lies we tell ourselves and each other in order to ignore this mine field add to the dishonesty that we live with and within. They fester inside our psyche, like swarms of virus bots consuming resources and destroying perceptions and pathways.

Have you ever wondered why confession, the purging of the “soul” of past transgressions, is so therapeutic and cleansing? How could this be unless lies and self deception truly are harmful to the mind/body harmony? I’m not talking religion here, I’m talking inner balance. If one is to believe in personal evolution, isn’t rigorous honesty beneficial to a long and healthy life? When navigating the jungle of life, you won’t last long if you’re in denial of your situation and are intentionally oblivious to that saber toothed tiger or that inner city bus. Though I guess that’s two ways to ineffectively scatter your seed.

So does it really matter whether the dangers are physical or spiritual if the damage is ultimately as severe? I’ve spent some time studying indigenous cultures and very few (if any) developed such a dishonest and deceptive culture as ours is today. These indigenous cultures flourished for hundreds if not thousands of years and many would still thrive today if they hadn’t come into contact with us. We came in peace, my childhood textbook claimed, written by the “winner” if that matters. All we wanted was everything we wanted. What so bad about that?

Ours is a culture that honors the glory and sanctity of God and humanity. And we constantly remind ourselves of this as we hack our way through one culture after another in a desperate attempt to rid the world of the cancer their sanity and harmony with self and nature represent to our own world. Our culture mocked their medicine men and shamans as primitive witch doctors at the same time we were bleeding people of evil spirits and burning witches. Oops, did I say that with my out loud voice? That’s sacrilege after all, with the penalty now my choice, that of being burned at the stake or excommunication from the hive.

The indigenous shaman was by far the most important member of their culture, healing sickness they believed could be traced back to a soul/body/spiritual imbalance. But they also guided the individual and the tribe’s consciousness forward, teaching their fellow man of the dangers and pitfalls inherent in any culture that worshiped self above all else. They warned their members of the hazard of endless accumulation and ego domination rather than harmony with a world in which they must co-exist or perish.

Their spiritual and cultural histories often reached back thousands of years and taped into an ancient wisdom and understanding that withstood the test of time, evident in both their healthy existence as well as the environment they lived within, not on or in spite of. Sounds like deep and valuable wisdom from where I stand and precisely why they were killed as quickly as they were discovered. They were heretics and would act as strong antibiotics if they were introduced into the European and American cultural virus. We couldn’t even take the chance of trying assimilation, instead relying on the tried and true extermination.

Kill Baby Kill

We as individuals and as a culture simply cannot destroy living beings, be they human, animal or plant, in such large quantities and with such speed without imbibing a daily dose of lies and self deception to kill the pain of our own sickness and insanity. To actually comprehend the death and destruction by our own hand with even a minimal level of empathy or compassion would assure its immediate cessation. I wonder if that’s why our soldier’s bodies come home at midnight and the wholesale killing is either sanitized or completely missing from our TV and other mass media.

I certainly don’t have the stomach for this business and I suspect neither do you. While I understand I cannot covet my neighbor’s wife and daughter, I feel no discomfort if I covet his oil and other natural resources. So as a society we ensure the resulting blood doesn’t splatter us and that death remains at a safe distance when we forward position our home grown madmen to oversee our neighbor’s destruction. Kill baby kill.

And so slowly but surely, helped along with generous portions of self serving propaganda, the dehumanization of those “savage and primitive races” (today aka as terrorists) is complete and our population is infected with blood lust and material infatuation. And the rest, as they say, is bloody history; though you won’t find this version in any acceptably sanitized school text book.

Our culture is plagued with school shootings, serial killers (government sponsored or otherwise) conducting mass murder, state sponsored genocide, fast food obesity and pill popping to kill our emotional and spiritual pain. And of course don’t forget the constant mindless consumption to placate an emotional and spiritual emptiness that can never be soothed by material balms. But we can die trying, can’t we? And we call ourselves sane.

The shaman was a healer in the broadest since of the word and the spiritual center and source of wisdom and guidance for the tribe. The indigenous cultures were dependent upon their shaman to remain spiritually centered and physically healthy. Once they were gone, any surviving tribesmen quickly succumbed to the insanity of the Europeans once their spiritual anchors were uprooted and destroyed.

Have you ever wondered why there are hundreds of stories of early European and American settlers in North America that willingly lived among and within these “primitive” cultures? Once the non natives (the white man) had been thoroughly assimilated into these cultures, why did so many of them want to stay and even fought against their old countrymen in order to remain within their adopted cultural families? These cultural adoptees talked about being the happiest and most fulfilled they’d ever been and how for the first time in their lives they felt at peace, both with themselves and with those around them.

How could this occur in a culture that supposedly had nothing to offer the modern world? What could these “backward” cultures possibly offer the so-called “civilized” Europeans and Americans that would be more attractive than what they already possessed? Is it possible that our culture has lied to us about these things and potentially much more? Could it be that our culture isn’t healthy for us, is in fact killing us? Might it be we’re being used and abused by our own culture for the benefit of others, that this isn’t a natural state for humanity and that this disturbance we feel is the source of our insanity?

I find it very revealing that the North American Indian has the highest rate of alcoholism and drug dependency in this country. It makes sense when you consider that once stripped of their cultural support and defensive systems, their shamans and nurturing culture, the original source of their strength and spiritual health, that they would seek a substitute elsewhere. Consider how you would feel if you visited heaven and felt the warm embrace of peace and happiness, only to be ripped from its breast kicking and screaming and deposited into hell. Maybe we should have their descendants consult our technology Gods to find a solution to their spiritual unhappiness and mental illness. You know what; I bet there’s an app for that.

In Chapter Two, we will continue our exploration of our individual and collective insanity, where we spend some time examining that lovable megalomaniac ego inside each of us, why and where it all went wrong, the sliding scale of insanity with lots of finger pointing, how we certify our madness for comfort and support, our mental toxic waste dumps and the first sighting of light at the end of the tunnel. Or is that just the crazy train express to DC? Here’s one car wreck we can all safely examine as we drive by in our economic suicide machines.

Cognitive Dissonance - 06/02/2010

End of Empire (Part One) – Propaganda and the American Myth

 “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”….ourselves. With apologies to Sir Walter Scott.

If only life were as neat and orderly as my ancient history text book showed it to be. There it was on glossy paper, spread out across two sets of adjoining pages, maps of the ancient and modern world. Including time lines top and bottom, with countries outlined and identified. Underneath their modern English names were one or two older names in smaller stylized script, often including exact beginning and end dates. I remember one in particular that caught my eye. “United States of America” followed by the year 1776. But with no end date indicated, it looked like unfinished business to me. You’ve got to love those historians and their exact dates.

Of course, in reality there are no exact dates for the birth and death of city/states, other than in the author’s mind. Children continue to be born, the old still die, and life goes on under different circumstances. But you’re rarely informed of the subjective nature of historical events when you’re young and impressionable, so they’re presented in the history books as fact. The last thing the reigning Empire wants is to appear uncertain about previous Empires. Even before we begin to read and comprehend on our own, we’re presented with the illusion of a beginning and end to everything, often with very clear lines of demarcation. This concept is continuously reinforced through our daily indoctrination of carefully scripted news stories, care of our modern media saturated existence. Naturally, critical thinking is optional and definitively not encouraged.

Mix in a healthy dose of hard core science, where you learn very early there are correct and incorrect answers to all your questions, and a pattern of social myth making emerges. Of course, the correct answers are held for public safekeeping by our cultural high priests and authority figures, be they academic, governmental, scientific or religious. Lest you forget, cultural icons and heroes must always be respected and deferred to. Maybe now’s a good time to remember that most history and science books are written and re-written by those very same keepers of the public mythology. What we believe as a culture, sometimes called our public myth, is usually determined by those whose pockets are the deepest or most powerful, not by those who are the wisest and most knowledgeable.

Have you ever read a book written by the survivors of the vanquished, the so called losers? I have, a number of times, and it’s usually very enlightening to see the world from the other side of the bloody divide. In their hands, our cultural myths aren’t treated with the same loving care and respect we afford them, nor should they be. But of course they must be lying because they have an ax to grind. Revisionist history is how those in power politely describe the writings of the defeated and the victims crushed in the head long rush of conquering empire. The public myth tells us that the losers can do nothing but taut the victorious with their lies. Ignore them and they’ll go away. Besides, the winners never lie about the facts, though we’re told there’s plenty of room for differences of opinion. And just about everything can be reduced to an opinion if you’re looking to obscure.

Of course, one of the unspoken duties of the winners is to distort the written and visual record, so that it conforms to the public myth. This is the principle reason why recently retired or replaced holders of powerful governmental and military positions are handed huge advances to write their memoirs. These sacred tomes of divine wisdom are quickly embraced by other propagandists as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help their Gods of propaganda. Once in hand, it’s quickly woven into the fabric of the public myth as supporting documentation. Thus another slice of the propaganda cycle is complete and ready for its next rotation.

We possess extremely complex belief systems and world views. How they develop and evolve is greatly influenced by external information sources we rarely question or challenge. After all, these sources are our cultural authority figures, the experts, professionals and intelligentsia that form our cultural propaganda delivery and support system. These sources cannot be seriously questioned, particularly from within, without being declared a heretic. Just look at how Zero Hedge, and other non-conforming web sites, are treated as an example of how heresy is handled these days. While we may not pay much attention to everything we hear or see, our unconscious is absorbing it all, raw and unfiltered. This information feeds into and supports our world view with little conscious thought or scrutiny. This is the reason why repetition is so vitally important to effective propaganda. Our brain always absorbs even when we do not look and listen.

It’s shocking to realize how seldom we change our basic beliefs or understanding when confronted with new information that normally would affect change. Instead, we bend or ignore facts to fit our established world view. John Maynard Keynes once said “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?” Sadly most people don’t subscribe to this logical practice. Instead, conformation bias and denial are the tools we use to manage and manipulate information to our liking. And there are plenty of governmental, corporate and private citizens ready to help us accomplish this through deliberate and targeted propaganda. The most common personal warning sign that this is happening is the pain of cognitive dissonance, which is usually set off when new information is in conflict with long established and dearly held views.

Rarely do we push through this cognitive pain to reappraise our inventory of established truths for validity or relevance. It’s so much easier to discard ugly deviations, or cherry pick information that confirms our preferred vision, rather than conduct the top to bottom review that’s called for when the facts change. Intellectual laziness is the polite term for this phenomenon. I think a more honest explanation is deliberate and mostly conscious denial. However, even when I’m alert for and aware of this phenomenon, I’m still surprised how often I participate. It’s frightening to see how deeply conditioned we are in the art of self deception. The truth hurts, so I employ the most powerful pain killer know to man, that of denial. It’s extremely difficult to reject popular opinion and strike out on our own independent path. Group think is indoctrinated into us from birth and socially rewarded at every turn. It’s emotionally safer and more comfortable if you stay near the center of the pack. Herd mentality in all its glory, which is corralled by the public myth and which we too are the keepers.

I often say all writers are essentially propagandists and that applies to me as well. I’m using this forum to cherry pick information which I then present in the most compelling manner to make my case. In effect, I’m feeding you my spin, which along with other pieces can be used to build a myth. The most effective propaganda is that whose basic premise is slipped by the reader or TV viewer so smoothly it’s never recognized. Once the premise is planted and accepted, the hard work is done and the fish is quickly reeled in. What’s that you say? You’re too smart to let the wool be pulled over your eyes? That you can discern truth from lies and would eventually figure it out given enough time and inclination? Honestly ask yourself, how much effort would you put into examining something you already believe to be true? Wouldn’t you deem it a major waste of your time? Consider the premise I put forth in the title of this article. Did you notice? Did you question? Or did you accept and start to read?

Most people see information as chunks of data that can be compartmentalized, examined and manipulated. But rarely do we recognize that many of the truths we hold as impeccable are based upon long lines of information. If at any point this information could be proven false, the entire line is suspect, along with your impeccable truth. Consider a long string of mathematical calculations. While there may be dozens of individual problems with separate answers, each answer then feeds into another calculation as a sum or variable. Make a mistake at any point in the line and the entire data stream is corrupt. How we view our world is based upon many preconceived notions and beliefs. Change just one small piece we previously thought correct and everything changes to some extent. Change two or three and suddenly we have a crisis of confidence and a cognitive dissonance. Yet when we feel that pain, how often do we reboot and reexamine everything? Why would you reexamine what you think you know to be correct, particularly when most everyone else is in agreement? Peer pressure and conditioning are hard to resist, even in the privacy of your own mind. “We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My basic premise and the basis for this series of articles is that the American Empire is ending. In fact, it has peaked and is now in rapid decline. While I can’t offer an exact date for this change of direction, it doesn’t diminish my argument in the least. I’d be hard pressed to give you the date for the decline of the Roman Empire, but clearly it followed the same trajectory. Did Rome’s downward spiral start when the capital was moved to Constantinople in 330 AD? Or when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD? It matters little at this point, except to the historians. While America descends, China and India ascend.

Actually I would argue that while Empires come and go, the culture of environmental and human exploitation and destruction we call civilization has grown in efficiency over the past 3000 years. We Americans now stand proudly at the pinnacle of the insanity, picking up where the Romans and Europeans left off. I’ll leave that thought for another day but I think you get my point.

America as a social and financial entity ceased to function at peak efficiency decades ago. This rapid decline is the main reason behind the massive increase in financial engineering, which is now coming apart at the seams, deliberately in my view. To argue over this or that detail is to be in denial of the obvious. In fact, I consider the official bickering over these details as a deliberate attempt to distort and distract while the final looting and rape occurs. Using propaganda and other psychological operations, our leaders lie about the economic condition of America. They do so not because they expect the lie to withstand close scrutiny, but rather to enable those who wish to believe the lie a plausible excuse to do so. Remember our conditioning. When in doubt, defer to authority and suspend disbelief.

A classic sales technique is the assumed consent close. Rather than directly asking you to purchase this new car, I simply assume you are purchasing and begin asking you closing questions. “Do you prefer the red one we looked at first or the blue convertible with the beige interior? Could you please get your insurance card out of the glove box before you clean out your car? Just sign here and here. Thanks.” You’d be surprised how many new automobiles, rooms of household furniture, whole life insurance, variable annuities and pieces of expensive jewelry are sold in this manner. Something similar to this technique is being used by the mass media to sell us something we already wish to buy. Only they aren’t selling the death of America, but rather its remarkable resilience and miraculous comeback. We’re being sold false hope, disguised as assumed consent questions such as, should we audit the Fed, can we expand healthcare with a public option, will Son of Stimulus be rolled out by the first or second quarter of 2010, should we……..well, you get the picture.

False hope binds us to impossible conditions and situations. Please read that statement again and then let it sink in for a minute.

As long as we believe there’s residual value in keeping America on life support, we’ll continue to pour borrowed money into this mess, rather than roll up the derivatives, fire the managers and start over. We don’t wish to face the reality that we’re in way over our heads. As long as we’re not forced to look too closely at the horrible condition our country’s in, we’re all too willing to do our part and avoid applying critical thinking to the subject. Like an old bull unknowingly led to slaughter because he thinks he’s off to mount another cow, we’re desperately trying to keep alive the magical American myth of life, liberty and apple pie while shielding our eyes from the rotting corpse it’s rapidly becoming.

That’s probably too harsh for the average American’s sensibilities, but let’s ask ourselves a few questions in an effort to find the truth, or at least something approaching the truth as we know it. Let me be clear on something before I get flamed for my harsh tongue. I’m not America bashing in the least. I’m America myth bashing. The American myth of exceptionalism is enabling her destruction as we stand idly by, applauding the mythical facade our leaders and media display 24/7. As long as we cling to the hope that all she needs is a tune up and some minor repairs, we’re condemned to a long and painful death spiral. We’re being sold exactly what we want to hear when we need to hear it. To claim otherwise is to lie to ourselves and to each other.

America is crumbling from the foundation up, and yet we gather around the TV, talking about a fresh paint job and a new screen door, both bought on credit, while handing our grandchildren a bill they’ll never be able to pay. The only way we can live with this lie while perpetrating these despicable acts upon our own family members is to deny it’s even happening. The big lie, which we must continue to tell ourselves, has taken on a life of its own and is consuming everyone and everything in its path. We are addicted to our own public myth and to sustain the lie, we simply ignore the truth. The only way to break through this lie is to go back through decades of propaganda and myth and find out what went wrong. Since this would be too painful, both individually and as a society, we distort reality as quickly as we change cable channels. It’s not just our leaders who are corrupt but we as well.

We have become cowardly, unwilling to commit to the tough decision of setting aside instant gratification in order to assure our grandchildren a home to live in. This is the ultimate act of selfishness, compounded by the fact that we claim we’ve been hijacked by our leaders. Sadly, our leaders are doing exactly what we want them to do, which is to continue the lie. Did we really think we could put our toys and war machines on the charge card and not worry about the bill, just because some politicians said we could? What are we, 5 year olds, pointing our fingers elsewhere when asked who broke the vase? Even if we personally followed the path of fiscal prudence, why didn’t we scream bloody murder, demanding we stop this insanity before the country began its suicidal plunge? Why do we still remain silent? Our hands are bloody and the only question is, how much is yours and how much is mine. Citizenship is all about individual responsibility, something we’ve been avoiding for a while now, at least since we started calling ourselves consumers.

Look at the endless propaganda on TV that’s used to lull us back into a drugged stupor, so we don’t dwell on what we’re doing to our children’s children. American flags wave in the background as chiseled men and full breasted women expound on how wonderful we are for building and loving this great nation of ours. The great American love story, brought to you nightly on prime time TV. This is where the bad guys always loose, men are men and women are sexual objects to lust after. Watch closely children, this is the American dream. Why wouldn’t we love America the myth? It’s everything we want without the pain. Nationalism is our unifying religion, a potentially fatal addiction to our public myth that enables us to fiddle while America burns. More drugs over here doctor, the patient’s waking up.

So how do we deal with this, and what does this have to do with Zero Hedge? Well, I would say it has everything to do with ZH, but then again I’m just a propagandist, weaving my magical myth. But to be honest, in desperation I’m seeking another way, a different path. I’m tired of moving in and out of the various stages of loss and grief. One moment I’m screaming at my zombie neighbor, imploring him to wake up and see the insanity. The next I’m filled with self righteous indignation as another patsy banker’s head is placed on the public pike. Sometimes I start my morning bargaining with unseen powers, begging for a truce or cease fire, only to end my day crying in my hands in fear and frustration of it all. And I’m not alone.

Zero Hedge seems to be a refuge for the walking wounded, a safe haven inside occupied territory for the psychically damaged and demoralized. But we need more than rest and relaxation in order to regain our feet. We need to heal and grow our ranks, to find a way to help ourselves and those who follow us into the refuge. Surrounded by lies and deceit, we are indoctrinated to such an extent that we still speak the language of denial without realizing it. We have no choice but to start at the beginning. While Zero Hedge speaks truth to power, we need to speak truth to ourselves, to talk openly about what has happened and where we’re going. Part of the seduction of denial is the avoidance of personal responsibility. In my view this must stop, thus my declaration that we’re all responsible for this mess. I have no doubt America can be repaired but the process starts at the personal level.

From a financial point of view, I’m sure we’ve all held a winning trade past its prime, giving back money we should have booked. And who hasn’t kept a dog way too long, when we should have thrown it overboard months ago? While I’m certain there are multiple reasons for poor investment performance, a fearless and thorough examination often shows that bad investment decisions are the result of personal shortcomings, such as wishful thinking or denial. For myself, when this happens, I find I’ve violated one or more of my trading rules. They are as follows.

 One, know myself, particularly my strengths and weaknesses. Two, know my trading environment or don’t play in the sandbox. Three, always consider the other side of trade. If I’m buying, why is the other guy selling? If I’m selling, why is the other guy buying? Look for weakness in my thinking. Four, from time to time, mentally clear my computer screen of existing positions and then follow step three with each holding. If I wouldn’t buy or sell it now, why am I holding it? Five, trust my instincts, not my heart. My heart lies to me all the time with plenty of help from my brain. Instinctually I usually know when to buy or sell but often I ignore my gut feeling and wind up screwing the pooch. Over the years I’ve found that too much thinking gets in the way and often makes things worse.

These trading rules, as with life itself, requires a clear eyed view and a deeper understanding of ourselves, our fellow man and the real world, not as we wish to see it but as it really is. Unfortunately we still engage in wishful thinking way too often, constantly pushing the hope “dope” button and regretting it afterwards. Considering the direction our world is headed, it’s going to be more difficult to think clearly unless we make personal changes. Old habits die hard because we desperately cling to them for emotional support. Understanding why we do this will go a long way to helping us jettison that old baggage. Even if we are trapped on the crazy train to hell, just because we can’t get off doesn’t mean we must participate in the insanity.

So with the active participation of my fellow Zero Hedge readers, I would like to continue this exploration in a series of “End of Empire” articles, each time focusing on a different aspect of the unraveling. We need to develop our intellectual, emotional and financial coping techniques. Of particular importance to me will be the comments and feedback I get from you, for I assure you I don’t have all the answers. This isn’t a rally to arms but rather a cry for help. Either we heal as a community or we continue to hemorrhage, alone and isolated. It’s going to be a wild ride so let’s buckle up and do this together. After all, there’s safety in numbers, inside the new herd mentality of Zero Hedge.

Cognitive Dissonance  11-29-2009

Chapter Two: End of Empire - Waking Zombie Nations / Psychology, Consciousness and The Egoic Mind