Welcome To The Insane Asylum – Our Collective Psychosis
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.
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