Margaret Millar once said, “Some people become so expert at reading between the lines, they don’t read the lines”.
In fairness, the asterisks in the title may lead you (the reader) to choose to fit in one of the most used words that begins with an ‘F’ and ends with a ‘K’ after ‘Facebook’. I must also take the opportunity to apologise to those who arrived here searching for that but in vain.
The truth is that the human brain has the ability to consistently read through a paragraph in which the words are misspelt with the letters jumbled as long as the first and last letter are the same.[i] In fact the intricacies and complexities of the human brain are beyond the understanding of the greatest minds of our civilization.
Wait, did I just use ‘brain’ and ‘mind’ in the same sentence?
The truth is that the brain is the soft tissue that resides inside our skull while the mind is the faculty of thought which is a social construct. Whilst the brain may be the organ, the mind is the external factor that has an effect in our version of reality.
Truth be told, irrespective of our brain’s capacity and capability, it is our mind that holds value in our social and commercial construct. And whether we conform to or rebel against the norms of society, we remain a product of society.
Yet how can society use our brains to control our minds?
WE ARE F-R-A-M-E-D
From a young age we are taught the virtue of serving in the military.
As a young Indian, the curriculum includes the Indian freedom struggle. As a young American, the curriculum includes the war fought against the British. As a young Englishman, the curriculum stresses on the defeat of both the Fascists and the Nazis. As a young Chinese student, the curriculum emphasises on the virtues of Communism.
The well known saying that ‘one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist’ is muddled when being a freedom fighter or a terrorist could include representing Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Churchill, Kublai Khan, Idi Amin, Robert Mugabe or even Mahatma Gandhi.
As Tennyson wrote in the “The Charge of the Light Brigade”;
“Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do an die”.[ii]
The word ‘soldier’ can carry with it the terms of honour, integrity, duty, patriotic, pride etc. all positive vis a vis that is carried with term ‘terrorist’. Yet our history is riddled with instances that blur this line.
The month of March in the year 2015 designates the control that the Islamic State (ISIS), has over the territories of Iraq and Syria[iii]. Now while I am incapable of condoning the actions of ISIS, I must consider that there is an individual out there willing to give their life to the cause.
Anyone willing to sacrifice his or her life for a cause has a personal concern that has been neglected to be addressed. History has shown that a disaffected population flocks to a new order for the sheer reason that their needs have not been addressed. The birth of Buddhism and Jainism and its popularity was spawned from a disaffected Hindu population towards the promise of a better life.[iv] In fact the migration of populations between religions is spawned from a concern that has not been addressed.
If a person is willing to take a life and/or give their life towards a cause it is predicated on the fact that they have a cause that is personal to them. It could include the loss of near and dear ones, the need to ensure that the “seed of democracy” is sowed or sheer blood lust, amongst a variety of reasons that influence the individuals in leadership positions that attract followers or the individuals that seek a leader to follow.
But what if we could address an individual’s concern before they believe violence is a requirement?
However, that is not the concern. Our thought process is designed deliberately to place us on a side of an argument that has no answer. It really need not be an argument, but why are we framed to think that it is one?
WE ARE F-O-R-C-E-D
The Cold War showed us the virtues of Capitalism defeating the evils of Communism, whilst the 2008 recession showed us the evils of Capitalism defeating the virtues of democracy.
The wars created an ideological debate for the people’s choice of governance. With the debate being “framed” as an instant choice for the electorate, it was instantly flawed.
The issue of governance ought to be an ongoing problem solving exercise, instead it is manufactured to answer the loaded question, “How can you be against such a system of thought?”
It is baffling to see an electorate defend their candidate that they voted for! Why should the voter owe an allegiance to the voted, when it should be the other way round? And even still we create debates of Left Wing versus Right Wing, and plant ourselves on the stance, irrespective of the fact that science has shown us that it takes two wings to genuinely fly.
And while we debate the impossible; the systems of governance, the right leaders to lead us, the source of information and its credibility, with great ease the wool is pulled over our eyes!
WE ARE F-O-O-L-E-D
In the Democratic Debate for the 2016 US Presidential election, in response to the question on how would the candidates’ presidential term be different from Obama, Hillary Clinton responded with the statement that she would be the first woman to hold office[v]. The whole point of being a Feminist is that genitalia is not a factor in determining socio-political-economic equality. Why did Hillary Clinton choose to use a catchphrase-esque tagline in her campaign rhetoric that was against the essence of the principles she is running for?
“To the victor go the spoils” and “History is written by the victorious” are statements that inspire us to strive for victory. Yet we fail to understand the significance that such statements carry. While I may have used the phrase truth be told, it is relevant to point out that history carries its versions of the truth.
Knights have been portrayed as handsome, charming noblemen when in reality they were murderers, pillagers and rapists.
Pirates have been portrayed as handsome, charming, loveable rogues when in reality they were murderers, pillagers and rapists.
Now while Disney has ensured that we consider that all inanimate objects including toys, cars, monsters and people have feelings that ought to be loved, there is a good to fair chance that in another 100 years children will be dressing up for costume parties as that loveable terrorist Faithful Farid or Happy Hamid.
WE ARE F-*-*-*-*-D
Our perception is so controlled that our approach to any socio-political-economic issue is framed for us, forced on us, or fallen for by us that we lack both the ability and the desire to fight for an individual’s rights.
The monotony of terrorism being equated to Islam led to a poor child, Ahmed, being denied the right to build a clock for a school project and was arrested for the same. World leaders in the field of science and politics stood by him, while the school still suspended him[vi]. It is quite possible that the angst Muslims face, the deriding looks, the suspicious looks and outright aggressive behaviour propels them into thinking that the war on terror is truly a war on Islam and they have been forced to pick a side.
Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader for the UK Labour Party defended those who sympathise with the ideology of ISIS if the ideology could be extricated from the violence of ISIS[vii], while calling for a political compromise not with ISIS but against ISIS. But if were to pay attention to the numbers flocking to ISIS, we may see a pattern of a disaffected population. In fact Jeremy Corbyn draws a parallel in the violence inflicted by ISIS to that inflicted by the US in the same region.
The idea to defend homophobia as falling within the freedom of religion whilst the freedom of speech is subject to the sensitivity of fundamentalists is a novelty beyond description.
While the ‘how’, society governs our minds may be seen, the ‘why’ remains elusive. What is our society’s standard for moral and ethical behaviour?
The distinction between morals and ethics is that morals govern the manner in which one reacts to those they know while ethics govern the manner in which one reacts to those they don’t know.
So if you see an instance of your perception being framed for you or forced upon you, fight back. If you realise that you have been falsely led, fight back. If you see society framing, forcing or fooling the public into an opinion, fight back for the individual’s rights involved. For the day our society chooses to be governed by subjective morality is the day we see our society fall.
Any ideology that requires violence as a leg to stand on, be it Islamic fundamentalism, Hindutva, or corporate greed; we should know better than to follow it!
5th Century BC saw Greece collapsing, aggressive Iranians, Rome in disarray and discord over extremism in Hinduism.
We are Fucked!