Who’s controlling your mind? The Emperor’s 21st century clothes
MAN AS CREATOR
the greatest challenge to independent thinking today
Who’s Controlling Your Mind?
The Emperor’s 21st Century Clothes
by Barbara Condron
When I was young I wanted to go to New York City. Once I was, in my young mind, forced to accompany my parents on their move from a college town of 45,000 to a town of 12,000, I longed for the diverse opportunity I believed NYC offered.
I remember watching a television movie about an interpretor at the United Nations. My desire to mimic the lead character was a large part of the reason I chose to learn French in seventh grade. I figured I could do something exciting and fun, and the job would, not by coincidence, necessitate me living in….New York City!
New York symbolized adventure, excitement, stimulation, a microcosm of the world, everything in one place to many of us who grew up in the United States of the 1950’s and ‘60’s.
I went to New York City the summer I was 12. It was actually a trip to Montreal for the 1967 World Exposition. I convinced my dad that we had to go through New York City on our way to Washington, D.C. He wasn’t exactly fond of the idea, but he relented. We spent less than 24 hours in the city that never sleeps. We saw a Broadway play starring Alan Alda and I spent most of the night looking at the city lights outside the window in our hotel. Since puberty had recently come upon me, I fell in love that night. Not with someone of the opposite sex but with an idea I had been conjuring in my imagination for years, an idea that would gestate for a couple more decades before illumination would bring resolve and the peace of understanding.
From that time forward I was restless, never quite satisfied with anything. Yes, I wanted to go back to New York City. The fact that I could not made it godlike in its attractive quality. I devoured the media – television, movies, magazines, newspapers – learning indirectly or directly how I should think about myself and the world. I chose college with working for the Washington Post or New York Times someday in mind.
At the time I thought I had a strong sense of Self, yet the influence became a kind of programming, pushing my thoughts into patterns it would take years to recognize. The consciousness of New York City. The desire to be like what I saw would haunt me for years, guiding and molding my thoughts in unconscious veins.
I grew up in a box.
The box is virtual teleportation. News from around the world. Vietnam coming to me. People being blown up before my eyes and some unknown man’s hand upon a red button that could suddenly end my world. Rob and Laura Petrie’s unseen bedroom. Father knew best and Beaver’s brother’s creepy friend obviously needed love and guidance because his parents were nonexistent. Dr. Kildaire and Ben Casey wanted to help because they cared and the Defenders knew who the bad guys were because Perry Mason kept going until he solved the mystery. Unconscious values being taught. Television has always been a powerful educator. The world it gave me was a world of ideals.
That world changed.
In a few short years realism, or so many proclaim, replaced idealism. Now we are bombarded with terrorism abroad and in public schools, nudity and sex everywhere, parents no longer know and the neighbor’s kid is the expert. Doctors are sued by lawyers who seek to win for the person who pays them. NYC (and Hollywood) their perception of life is the only one really worth having.
What happens when the town folk realize the tv emperor – self-proclaimed reflection of society – is revealed to be without clothes?
Most mornings I try to catch a bit of the morning shows. Flipping through the channels looking first for weather reports and news headlines. After years of commitment to journalism – B(achelor of) J(ournalism) ‘73 University of Missouri – I have finally begun to free myself from the hypnotizing influence of media, pop culture. In large part I have my son to thank for this, for I received this young soul’s entry into our world with joy-filled solemnity that has expanded my consciousness, sensitizing me further to what had been unconscious.
For a taste of this sensitivity let me describe a recent discussion between two well-respected news figures. The interchange centering on a front page newspaper article occurred during a morning show. The headline read: Dinner for 2 $500. The male host lamented the price while justifying it in his own mind by saying the average apartment in Manhattan is $700,000 (I assume a year although he didn’t say) and that parking spaces go for $1000 a month. So it “was only a matter of time.” The cost was based on $160 per person plus wine plus tip. And the waiting list is 8 1/2 months.
The female host said, “It’s insane! Sometimes I think they should lock-up all of us who live in New York in an insane asylum.”
The laughter in the studio was weak, and I had to review her words in order to believe what I thought I’d heard. Upon doing so I realized these were the truest words I’ve ever heard this respected female journalist say.
These people we can see almost any day on tv or hear on the radio or read in the paper assume we all want to be like them, dress like them, talk like them, live like them; that we are envious because they live in New York and we don’t, and if you don’t, you really don’t know. Arrogance and ignorance must be brother and sister.
Media of all forms, popular culture as it is known and spread throughout the world, has been pushing “agendas” to use its own favorite word for several decades. I first recognized it in politics – the politically correct spin logic that fueled biased reporting and ended my youthful desire to work on the East coast. I used to long for the days of the ethics of the Walter Cronkites, men and women of substance and awareness of the influence of their presence absent the greed.
When I entered J-school I wanted to change the world. I learned that a journalist does not change the world, but rather reflects the world back to the people living it so they can change themselves. Ethical reporters are like scientists, they don’t interfere, they observe and note. I learned valuable lessons from that and because the urge to change the world was still aflame within me I was led to metaphysics.
When media ideas of education intersected mine what remained of the collective unconsciousness in me shattered. The vaccination push totally void of the reality of giving a two-month-old baby a dose of five different diseases. Ritalin and other drugs mind-control children as young as two while both parents work to pay credit card debt. Children being taught to use inhalers before seven instead of taught the correct way to breathe. Violence in public schools in place of prayer. When the images of Columbine High School were omnipresent I began to see not schools but prisons. The buildings actually look like prisons, all that is missing is the barbed wire and now the talk is of adding armed guards for security.
I remembered my first day of school. I did not want to stay. I cried, I was miserable. Yes, I adjusted. Yes, I learned from it and went on to excel. But the truth is, I like so many kids was sent to school against my will, away from the family that loved me into a group of strangers.
The collective unconscious says it is great to do this in 20th century America, in fact its great to leave your baby with strangers at three, two, one and even a few months old. Want to breastfeed your child? What are your thoughts about that? Where did you learn them? What if you want to breastfeed for two years? Three years?
Society labels people who don’t play by the rules as deviants, trouble makers. Sometimes they are “radicals” or “antisocial” or “backwards.” Labels belong on products not people. Media has helped us lose the fine art of caring for one another, for talking with one another, for being with one another. Virtual reality will never replace direct experience. When we become conscious about this we see the emperor has no clothes. We can see him for what he is.
There are those in the “industry” who believe media exists to change beliefs, to mold society. In large part their beliefs have been substantiated for they are purveyors of ideas. But they change beliefs not because they are progressive, in alignment with universal principles, and reflective of the common good. They change beliefs because the society they rule has been taught what to think, all their lives. Public school has taught generations of now-adults what to think about history, communication, science, art, math, life. When you leave school, media takes over unless you know how thinking occurs.
Media may have shot itself in the foot recently with reality tv. Following in the steps of trash-talk, television networks embarrassed us with Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire where fairy tale endings were decimated and Survivor where modern-day Lord of the Flies pseudo-castaways sacrifice themselves before our eyes. The real life soap opera courtesy of network television. This is how “they” see “us.” Sooner or later the emperor will be exposed; the little boy inside you will point and say, “That’s not me!”
We will wake up because we are learning who we want to be like might not exist except in the power of our own imagination. This is the place fantasy holds. It is how science fiction of yesterday became the reality of today. Waking up means accepting that power, no longer projecting it somewhere it doesn’t belong, no longer blaming someone else when the power evaporates.
Free of the box. You don’t need to sit in front of the television set for hours to be hypnotized by it. Its influence in your life is at work. Its in what everyone is talking about, its in the products (or lack of them) that you find at the store, its in the subject matter of movies (last year’s Oscar winner was the tale of immoral, pathetic people destroying each other’s lives called…American Beauty), in clothing, toys kids must have, even at church.
What frees you from the box is thinking for yourself. Thinking for yourself empowers you to see the emperor for who and what he is, to go beyond appearances to the point of cause. It enables you to become conscious where before denial ruled your thoughts and actions.
There were many things I admired about Scarlet O’Hara, a novel heroine long before a movie one. The way she resorted to unconsciousness when life became too unpleasant or too painful was a stimulus for many teenage fantasies. A resilient character, this Gone with the Wind heroine rules her life with the mantra, “I’ll think about it tomorrow” whenever reasoning fails her. This failure to reason caused her to lose the great love of her life and I spent countless nights coming up with different conversations, different scenarios of deeper thinking that led to a happier ending. Thus is the capacity for each of us to think for ourselves, to teach ourselves how to think, to change our thinking.
I knew I possessed this capacity but I needed help to turn it into a skill I could develop. I learned how to do this by studying not at the University of Missouri but at the School of Metaphysics. MU expected me to have brilliance, SOM taught me its nature and how to shine!
©2001 Vol. 19 No. 1
Thresholds Quarterly School of Metaphysics
copyright 2002 School of Metaphysics