August 20, 2008

The Joy of Pessimism

Blessed are the pessimists, for they shall never be disappointed! (Unknown)

It is sometimes claimed that there are only two kinds of people, optimists and pessimists. And we all know which group is preferred... at least by the optimists! Everyone wants good news, we are told; people don’t like bad news. It sounds like a truism; but is it? With the state of politics in the modern world, any candidate for public office simply must train himself/herself to speak nothing but positive comments... except when speaking of political opponents, of course-- in which case, they can stoop as low as they want. But everything their party does is described in glowing, positive terms, regardless of how atrocious it may be. The future will always be bright in the rosy eyes of our politicos, who will be punished mercilessly by the media if they should attempt to speak words of reality.

In business and personal life, optimism is again exalted, especially in recent years of high-priced seminars by ‘motivational speakers’ who assure us that we will get what we speak, so make sure to keep it positive. Yes, the ‘law of attraction’ somehow converts our words into physical reality, or sends energy waves into the ethers to locate just what is needed and somehow transports it into our lives. Great, isn’t it! That should be plenty of incentive for anyone to become an optimist.

So, what’s wrong? Am I against optimism? Am I saying that pessimism is better? No, not exactly; but I do have serious reservations about the unbridled optimism that has become the ideal of the modern, successful person. And I have doubts about the media that demand good news from our politicians, while the newspapers and TV media seem to thrive on bad news, because that’s what seems to sell. Optimism is good as a basic outlook on life, and has been linked to better health and other tangible benefits. However, as the world moves forward into perilous days, those who favor an optimistic view are in grave danger of operating under dangerous delusions. In fact, I’m not supposed to even raise the prospect of a dark future, since that is pessimistic, and might be a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy.’ You see; there’s the rub. The optimists seem to believe that a sunny outlook will somehow make it so, despite the present evidence pointing towards potential disaster. I could cite any number of indicators that point towards the inevitable conclusion that the human race is heading for a date with calamity, the primary question being ‘when?’. Yet an inveterate optimist would take either (or both) of two possible strategies: either ignore all the ‘bad news,’ and carry on in bliss; or, acknowledge present difficulties, but place all trust in the ‘homeostasis of history,’ and the vaunted ability of humankind to somehow surmount all difficulties and not just survive, but thrive. (By homeostasis of history, I mean the belief that all things carry on as they always have, moving along the currents of progress.)

A few decades ago, all predictions about the Future were glowing portraits of a techno-utopia where ‘modern miracles’ would be available at the touch of electronic buttons. Then, around the mid-1970s, the rosy applecart was rudely upset by a research paper sponsored by the Club of Rome, entitled The Limits to Growth. For the first time since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, someone took a broad look at the trends of modernism and projected them to their logical future... and it didn’t look good. In fact, it looked like a catastrophe of some sort, within the lifetimes of the authors of the report. Of course, most people who even heard about this study filed it under pessimism, and therefore, to be regarded with one of the two strategies mentioned above. As it turned out, the dire predictions of that report have not yet occurred. Therefore, any optimists who harbored uneasy doubts feel quite confident that they will never occur. My contention is that this view is dangerous to the health of humanity. Consider a favorite analogy.

The 20th century opened with great optimism engendered by the scientific revolution of the preceding century. People assumed that soon, everything in the universe would be figured out, and utopia would be quickly ‘evolved’ in the coming decades. Before the catastrophe of 1914 came along, there was another iconic event that epitomizes the plight of modern, technological man. In 1912, the zenith of technical achievement was a steamship called the Titanic, and it’s story, among other lessons, tells us something about human psychology. The designers of the Titanic were optimists-- they skimped on life-boats and life-rafts, since, after all, their ship was unsinkable. The captain and senior officers were optimists, and when informed about ice ahead, they kept ‘full speed ahead,’ as if nothing could slow their progress. The uber-rich passengers on board in first-class were optimists, and putting their faith in the crowing platitudes of the steamship company and its naval architects, they partied into the night. Perhaps the only pessimist on board before the fateful collision was the duty watchman who spotted the ‘berg and notified the bridge in good time. Of course, optimists scorn those they label as pessimists, and they dislike even listening to their ‘negative carping on everything.’ We all know how the story ends, thanks to renewed interest by James Cameron and his famous movie made at the end of the last century. (It is curious that a high-degree Mason like Cameron should make a movie that seems to illustrate the broad outlines of the looming fate of spaceship Earth and its crew and passengers.)

The movie presents in miniature the perils of wild-eyed optimism-- that it simply blinds us to unpleasant realities that we’d rather not have to deal with. So, it is my argument that a lot of what optimists dismiss as annoying pessimism is actually ‘realism’ staring us in the face. Reality is not always pleasant, and as society has progressed into what we now experience as modernity, our reality is less and less pleasant. I think that is one reason for the outburst of optimism in these early years of the new millennium-- as we feel greater unease, we seek desperately for the assurance offered by optimists that all will be well... if only we keep up the positive outlook. You can see that, in this regard, optimism is closely linked to denial, or phrased in softer language, rationalization. It appears that, despite the popular profession of optimism, many persons are suppressing strong feelings of pessimism. We are seeing more cases of mental disease than ever; more stress-induced syndromes, more physical disease, despite all the promises of medical science. Curiously, even some of those prognosticators who foresee a global catastrophe looming in the near future (as in 2012, for instance) frame their dark visions in glowing, positive terms, portraying their disasters as a jump to a new dimension of consciousness, hence a positive experience for mankind. While optimism and its precursors are aimed at avoiding unpleasant reality, what is really needed is the realistic assessments of pessimism to have any hope of beginning to address the problems that threaten the future of human life on Earth.

August 18, 2008

Dog Days of August 2008

Here it is, the 3rd week of August, supposed to be a moribund season, and what have we, instead? Why, a 3-ring global circus of events blurring the tele-screens while most of the populace carries on in blissful autonomia. The quadrennial 'sports' orgy called 'the Olympics,' is already a week old and still reeking of Western double standards while China puts on a dazzling display to the onlooking world. As if on coincidental cue, there's a blow-up in a part of the world most Americans have never heard of, let alone could find on a map. And in the background, all the usual nonsense swirls on, proving to some of us that the world is getting crazier by the minute, not year or month.

Yes, there is apparently, a new 'demonstration sport' introduced at this year's Olympics with no advance fanfare. It's Political Hypocrisy, and not surprisingly, the gold medal has already gone to-- (are you ready?)-- George W. Bush, for another superb performance, capping a career of world-class hypocrisy. Just prior to the opening ceremonies, he again accused China of human rights abuses, and occupation of a sovereign state (Tibet), and lack of democracy. The judges were impressed not only with the program content, but the delivery was worthy of an Oscar, not just a sports gold medal. The team prize for hypocrisy, tho, goes to the North American media who discovered that the opening song was lip-synched by a 9-year old beauty while another talented child did the vocals behind the scenes. Days later it's still a 'story,' presented as if we 'Westerners' would never stoop to such superficially-focused illusion! Come on; our whole 'entertainment industry' is nothing but beautiful people pretending to be 'normal.' Our Olympic committees would simply hold a contest for the most beautiful child who could also sing. Well, the rest of the Olympics are about the usual fussing and fuming about 'healthy competition' among countries... while keeping constant vigilance for cheating athletes using performance-enhancing substances. And, of course, there's the obsession with medals, medals. medals, and who might be able to break the American stranglehold on the hardware count.

Some consider the Olympic Games to be a safe, ritualized form of aggression that help mankind avoid bloody warfare, to which I agree. However, it seems we just can't abandon our favorite sport, and sure enough, as the Games opened, Georgia decided to break the boredom of summer by attacking a place called South Ossetia, on Russia's southern flank. True to the dog-days theme, the Western media, like a pack of lap-dogs of the White House, all spewed forth a barrage of blatant propaganda intended to paint Russia the transgressing, unpredictable 'bear,' while fabricating Georgia as the poor, brave, little democracy fighting for the survival of civilized values in the region. They featured Bush-inc. and his NWO cohorts reading statements with straight face condemning the invasion of a sovereign nation, the killing of innocent civilians, attempting to depose a democratically elected president, and 'extending its sphere of influence outside its boundaries.' All of this in a display of nauseating hypocrisy that eclipsed his 'Olympic' performance. Not one of the media 'news' giants mentioned that Russia was responding to military provocation in South Ossetia, whose citizens use Russian passports for travel abroad. Nor did any of them point out the obvious fact that Bush and his toadies (including Britain, Canada, and, oddly, Georgia, among others) have done exactly everything that he accused Russia of. As in the case of the US condemnation of China on human rights, Bush is hardly in any position to criticize another country on extra-territorial adventures. For any possibility of discovering a semblance of truth, one must go to the Internet and read a variety of sources. Hence, one has to worry if Bush and his buddies were in China to learn some techniques of censoring the 'Net.'

Meanwhile, summer is in full swing. Visitors from afar are coming to enjoy familial hospitality, and motorists are adjusting to over-priced gasoline and making tentative trips on the road. How many, you have to wonder, have the foggiest notion of where 'South Ossetia' is located? How about North Ossetia? Or Abkhazia? They're all close to Chechnya, by the way; and you know how Chechnya was engaged in a bloody struggle with the Russians, just a few years ago... right? Like most zombies, I just assumed that the Chechen conflict was some Islamic uprising in an obscure corner of the former USSR, and of no possible concern to me. Wrong! It's a perfect example of 'ignorance is bliss'... until events come crashing around your ears. It turns out that Chechnya was yet another odious example of CIA meddling in foreign countries' affairs in order to de-stabilize a perceived enemy nation, and/or to install a 'democratic government,' meaning, it ought to be blatantly clear by now, a regime friendly to Western multinational corporate interests. Since that ploy didn't quite pan out as intended (what else is new?) they looked for another way to 'bait the bear.' With the insatiable lust for petroleum in their eyes, the US is looking for any feasible routes to run pipelines to the nearest 'friendly' ports. The big problem for the Americans is that petroleum resources from the Caspian Sea region and beyond would logically run thru either Russian or Iran-- both of whom have been cultivated as enemies by the ever-astute American foreign policy shapers. Since these routes are non-starters, the US has designated once-forgotten Afghanistan as a must-have (as Barack Obama has voiced, inheriting his direction from earlier Clinton decisions). In addition, they have engineered 'friendly' regimes in Ukraine and Georgia, hoping to contain Russian influence and especially, run their pipeline outside of Russian control.

Without going into an analysis of the present situation (which is well covered by many able Web writers) my point is to underscore how events in 'obscure corners of the world' can have disastrous influence on our peaceful lives. In 1914, in a tiny piece of the eastern European puzzle-board, a 'nobody' became one of history's somebodies by assassinating Achduke Ferdinand of Austria, an event considered the spark that triggered the First World War. Thousands of Commonwealth soldiers, and later Americans, went across the ocean to spill their blood on foreign soil; yet, how many Canadians, Americans, or Australians could find Sarajevo on a map of the 'Austro-Hungarian Empire?' Even in 1939, it's doubtful that a majority of North Americans could easily find Poland on a map, on hearing that Germany had invaded it. And so today, we have seemingly trivial conflicts taking place in far-away places with strange names, involving apparently ages-old grudges, and we hardly give them a second thought. But, who knows? Once again, one of these conflicts could lead to more serious, geo-political consequences, and we could wake up wondering how the heck did we get ourselves in another mess?

Aye, there's the tragedy. The vast majority of humans simply want to live a peaceful life, one in which our children can live out their entire natural lives without having it shattered by the specter of war between nations. Yet, generation after generation, our race keeps getting involved in wars that, in the long run, prove futile. Why can't we stop? One reason, I propose, is the fact that the majority do not want to 'bother with politics', hence become easy to manipulate into the next 'good war.' And one reason we don't like to consider public policy is that our education system gives it very short shrift-- not just making politics another dreary, irrelevant subject to pass (or by-pass), but also failing to instill a sense of civic responsibility into developing minds. All attention is focused on careers and clicking off 'subjects' on a list until one is deemed qualified to receive a piece of paper attesting to their having sat thru all the items on the list. But that just leads to the next lower layer, which has to do with the very fundaments of our society, wherein we are taught to value material prosperity over everything else.

As illustration, I lately receive e-newsletters from some casual acquaintances-- a fine couple who relocated from a former Soviet state, and who are raising a family in a pleasant, small city. As members of a MLM (multi-level marketing) organization, selling a health-related product, they have immersed themselves in books and videos extolling the power of positive thinking, and the power of 'the law of attraction' in achieving your goals. Altho applicable to any goal, the primary one, of course, is financial and material, and so they are, like so many modern individuals, caught up in the treadmill of 'success,' where success is measured by the size of one's bank account, home, and garage toys. Nothing wrong with making money, having a swimming pool, etc. But multiply their ambitions by say, 300 million North Americans, plus 350 million Europeans, and now add a billion Chinese, plus a billion Indians, and 'Houston, we have a problem!' A society completely predicated on consumption of 'goods' as its sole economic paradigm simply cannot continue to exist indefinitely. In fact, we are seeing before our startled eyes-- (those of us who chose to see)-- that the materialistic dream starts to unravel in a very short period of time, historically speaking (since we are barely two centuries into the 'Industrial Revolution'). The Capitalist dream was a huge moral-economic experiment, and is demonstrating unequivocally how bankrupt and unsustainable it is. Once you excise the soul from human affairs, the spiritual bent from the human, society is doomed to self-destruction... barring drastic reforms of thinking... or catastrophe, or divine intervention. The first solution, widespread reforms, is highly unlikely, for the reason that the 'system' has become so entrenched, so self-reinforcing, that no person, society, nation, or whatever, could muster the all-out energy required to turn this supertanker 180 degrees. Those optimistic souls, god bless 'em, who recycle plastic bags and drive 'hybrid' vehicles to pick up their ethical lattes, don't seem to really get the ugly point-- which is, that such pathetic gestures are hopelessly inadequate to restore the Earth to a livable condition. Nothing short of drastic, diametrically opposite measures will be able to prevent the coming cosmic train wreck.

The main reason for the failure of this species, as I've stated in other essays, is that a small group of satanically inspired individuals is hell-bent on an insane plan to control the whole Earth and impose their dystopian vision on the planet's survivors. I grant you, cher lecteur, that this notion is a hard sell, considered grounds for commitment to an insane asylum in some people's opinion. (Fortunately-- if you can say so-- they don't have insane asylums anymore, the system having realized that the whole world is so crazy that turning loose a few, certified patients isn't going to be even noticed these days.) Hence, I state my beliefs, and wait patiently for history to vindicate me... if that's possible in a future world laid waste. Anyway, as these dog days of 2008 are showing, events are moving briskly along, and whatever celestial destiny lies in store for this planet will not tarry long in arriving at our collective doorstep.

August 7, 2008

Another Day on Planet Earth

  • The western Indian city of Ahmadabad, the commercial capital of the state of Gujarat, felt the brunt of 17 bombs that killed 49 people and injured 200 others.
  • A Quebec man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his son's 17-year-old girlfriend.
  • Karadzic, 63, stands accused of masterminding Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War, the killing in 1995 of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica.
  • 40-year-old suspect held in gruesome Manitoba bus killing--Passenger decapitated, witnesses say; story contains graphic details...
  • A man was charged Thursday with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in the same building last week... police confirmed Thursday the two women were strangled.
  • The men were gunned down in the southbound car when another vehicle pulled up alongside it and shots were fired at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday [29]... this latest violence comes on the heels of the gang-style slaying of one man over the weekend and the killing of another ... last week.

These were all headline news stories dated to July 31, 2008. A war criminal responsible for thousands of civilian deaths; the deliberate bombing of citizens in an Indian city; a couple of murderers of women; yet another brazen, gang-style execution of fingered enemies; and most sensational of all, a man who coolly stabs a stranger to death on a bus, and then severs his victim's head, holding it up like a trophy. Ho-hum, yes, really too bad how the media just report the bad news; now, where's my channel changer-- it must be time for some 'reality TV.' Okay; I suppose a few of you out there in reader-land do get interested in the news and see how it reflects our society's trends and values. Some of you will be disturbed for a while and wonder about it. Some will have ideas on who or what to blame for the violence that is becoming almost a hallmark of modern life. Let me offer my perspective on the situation.

By now, we're getting familiar with the analogy of the frog in the sauce pan, who doesn't feel the water gradually reaching a boil, until it's too late. But there's much more to it than that simple illustration. The news stories cited are all indicative of a global society in a state of crisis, a sickness of the soul that manifests in a million novel and gruesome ways every day. Yet so pervasive is this spiritual malady that even those of us who think we are well have merely shifted our tolerance for violence to ever greater levels in order to be able to function daily in what we convince ourselves is a 'normal' manner. Are we spiritually healthy... or are we really infected with the same virus but are exercising a kind of mind-numbing to mask the symptoms? I think if we were truly healthy, we'd be outraged, and would demand meaningful responses from our politicians. But, what do 'meaningful' reactions look like? Don't our officials at all levels put new measures into effect to address the violent episodes?

Let's stand back, and see what the pattern has been-- and this is something that nobody (certainly not politicians) bother to do. First of all, we have to recognize that what is needed, at this crisis stage, is a coordinated, integrated, rational approach. But, this is precisely what we do not get! The system is set up in such a way that responsibilities are fragmented, scattered over various layers of government, various independent departments or ministries of functionaries, so that a coordinated response is difficult or impossible. And yet, in countries where the powers and responsibilities are consolidated into a single, effectual authority, the result is dictatorship! In other words, we're damned if we implement the structure that would, possibly, lead to a solution. It kind of epitomizes the pathetic extent, the depth, of the human dilemma.

Speaking of solutions, what, really, is the problem? Why, it's violence, of course. What, then, causes the violence? My view is that violence is a symptom of the deep disturbance in the human soul (call it 'psyche' if it makes you more comfortable) which is engendered by a fundamental dissonance at the very core of society. Humans are social animals; we need each other to survive and thrive, both economically and emotionally. Yet we are all different, having a spectrum of skills, talents, and flaws, that make it a great challenge to co-exist in harmony. However, we have intelligence and are capable of compassion, two faculties that, theoretically, could lift us to new levels of peaceful existence. It is deceptively simple; the liberal exercise of one little faculty, tolerance, could make all the difference.

Sure, we all have our own views on life, even in organizations that are supposed to homogenize our views-- ie. religions, and 'ologies' of all kinds. But if we all had tolerance, we would just accept that everyone is entitled to his/her views, and carry on peaceful interrelationships. I think most of us-- at least those of us from the newer, immigrant-built countries of the 'Western world'-- already believe that paradigm. Then-- what goes wrong? Well, I suppose you could say it's character. Some individuals are driven to dominate; others to amass great wealth or power. Those seem to be the two great (and troublesome) motivators of humankind. But, why do they have those hard-wired drives? Aye, there's the big-prize question. Psychologists have their theories-- e.g. insecurities in infancy leading to an overcompensating need to control. There may be some merit in these notions. The question then becomes why, in thousands of years of civilization, have we collectively not been able to devise ways to contain the destructive power of these driven individuals, who apparently, constitute a relative minority in our midst?

That is a more difficult problem, although certain reasons spring readily to mind. Clearly, the 'driven' personality, if lacking moderating influences, tends towards psychopathy. Studies with rat colonies and other research suggests that as population densities increase, with attendant increasing stress, greater incidence of abnormal and aggressive behavior is observed. Individuals who are 'borderline' candidates for sociopathic conduct can cross the invisible line. And even those who are among the statistical norm begin to exhibit more symptoms of stress, noticed as aggression, or withdrawal, etc. In other words, there's a shift in group consciousness, away from easy-going tolerance, towards more antisocial behavior. You can think of that shifting process as the increasing temperature of the waters of social interaction.

Of course, I don't claim any of this analysis is original. That's the thing-- it doesn't take a genius or a PhD in sociology to understand the basic dynamic. Therefore, I reiterate the dilemma: why haven't we been able to develop an effective mechanism to curtail the excesses of individual character weakness? Part of the reason is that there is such a spectrum of 'driven' behavior, that we can't easily or always detect those who 'cross the line' and abuse the tolerance of the majority. The more egregious offenders (ie. the most acquisitive or aggressive individuals) learn to hide their worst traits until they have seized control and cannot easily be dislodged from power. Remember Hitler and Stalin, as extreme such examples. They are adept at using the systems and structures in place to their advantage, and at setting their adversaries at each other's throats, choosing the right moments to make their moves to the top. Ironically, it's the very decency of ordinary people that makes them slow, or unable, to acknowledge the deceit and self-serving cunning of these stealth psychopaths at a stage where they could be stopped. Altho these types generally lack any kind of empathy, they recognize that the same quality in normal people can be used against them. Thus, their cold-bloodedness gives them an advantage, while civility becomes a handicap for the majority.

There's a kind of 'flip-side' to the big picture of where the violent insanity of humanity comes from. While the great majority who define normal in society are ill-equipped to detect and deal with sociopathic leaders, at the same time, they also fail to recognize and deal with individuals who fall below accepted bounds of normalcy. For example, there have been a number of horrific mass murders committed in recent years, notably in Canada and the USA, by young men characterized as loners, and losers. These men, typically, had a problematic childhood, had abusive parents, were inept socially, had few, if any, friends, and compensated with fantasy lives that revolved around violent, retributive acts against 'society' as a threatening collective. Even tho our school system is supposedly staffed with teachers trained to recognize 'misfits,' and counselors empowered to work with them, the fact is that in our impersonal, understaffed, knowledge factories, it's still too easy for misfits to fake enough normalcy to slip thru the system with only unsettling suspicion dogging their careers.

An increasingly common pattern in the world outside school, is the incidence of 'volcanic violence.' We've coined a term, or set of terms for it, such as 'road rage,' and lately, 'work rage,' and so on. Again, there are individuals with borderline personality disorders who exist quietly in our midst, until some incident triggers a violent outburst from them, which too often, results in bloodshed and death.

Here's where my theory goes to a higher level of analysis. I say we, humanity, have allowed our major paradigms to be constructed for us with little thought to how all the small pieces fit together, and with very little regard for the 'higher nature' (yes, the spiritual aspect) of mankind. Everything today is about materiality-- acquiring goods, money, territory, power, etc. This system has slipped into our everyday lives over a mere couple of centuries in such a stealthy fashion that we think it is entirely 'natural' and represents how 'things just are.' Yes, a relative few cogent students have observed the inherent flaws in the system, and have proposed one or another analysis with a solution of some kind. But, overall, the process appears to evolve organically, as if in accordance with some overarching natural law. And the big problem with the various proposed replacement paradigms is that they all involve some inherent philosophy that inevitably scares the daylights out of those who'd rather deal with the status quo than jump into another scary political paradigm.

My observation (and many readers have not yet had their blinders removed... it takes time) is that, in fact, our 'present reality'-- the socio-economic paradigm of the 21st century Earth-- has been consciously shaped over the centuries, and shaped in a way that deliberately renders it dysfunctional. This sounds incredible to the mind that hasn't had time to reflect on the evidence. Nonetheless, you have to consider that this view accounts for a lot of the insanity that characterizes our modern world. The other, conventional approaches to the problem of growing societal insanity is to continue doing what we've always done, and thus, continue getting the results we've always got! What we've always done is to retreat into denial and do nothing for as long as possible. Then, when something blows up that can't be ignored, we go into panic mode, look for someone to blame, and if we live in a wealthy society, we throw money at the problem. Admit it-- this is the 'SOP', standard ops, for every problem that bedevils us and rocks our normalcy. Crime in the streets? Hire more cops, bring down stiffer sentences ('lock 'em up!'), and bring in more laws. Inadequate health care? Hire more managers, add more beds in the hospitals, try new drugs. It's the same story with each new head that springs from the Hydra of modern, hyperactive, ultra-stressed living-- wait for an acute problem, bring in a shot-gun blast of measures prescribed by the experts, and then wonder why the problem reappears a short time later, generally more acutely. It's always a retro-active response, based on scattered procedures, and dealing exclusively with superficial features of the condition. While the supreme characteristic of humans as a species is the ability to adapt intelligently to new situations, we seem doomed to be unable to apply that ability to save our planet from our own ineptitude.

We will only be able to implement truly effective measures to solve our problems when we-- enough of us-- wake up and acknowledge some unpleasant realities. And that first reality is that life is about more than a mad scramble to acquire as much material stuff as possible to achieve happiness. That crazy paradigm is morally and spiritually bankrupt, and anyone with eyes can see that it is destroying our planet. (Indeed, an economy founded on the premise of consumption cannot do otherwise-- look up the word consumption in a dictionary.) The second essential recognition is that there are forces-- persons-- who are deliberately directing the affairs of this world towards certain crises, in order that they and their kind may profit and emerge in total control.

Both of these realizations are difficult for the average person to make, and for the same reason-- the controllers are masters of human psychology. They know how to exploit our every weakness, and especially, the importance of mind conditioning from the earliest ages. Thus we have been subtly programmed from infancy to accept as normal a system that, with a little mature objectivity, can be seen as transparently insane. Notice how the supermarkets now provide miniature shopping carts for children to push alongside their parents carts? Oh, cute! isn't it? Sure; and a great way to imprint in kids' minds the normalcy of pushing a cart around a retail outlet and filling it with piles of 'goods' that may or may not be necessary. So it goes, everywhere in our society-- the million little instructions that strike our senses every day, reinforcing the essential notions of the 'consumer nation,' the 'free market democracy,' the epitome of civilization. Unfortunately, there's a problem in modern Utopia. In fact, there's a huge and growing phalanx of problems assaulting the harried citizens of the brave, New World. And if you still aren't sure of that, please go back to the beginning of this essay and look up those news stories.