We say we want change. So, every few years, we elect new officials, and they continue to churn out more of the same policies, legislation, and rhetoric. The rich continue to get richer. The poor slide deeper into poverty. Corporations and the wealthy see pet projects and sweet deals passed through Congress. The People receive yet another bitter slap in the face.
This is because the foundation of our populace is poisoned. The soil from which our people, elected officials, and politicians grow is toxic. Every generation is fed the same destructive falsehoods. By the time human beings become politicians they are massively propagandized to believe the purpose of public office is to make deals for big businesses … and from top to bottom we all continue to repeat the false slogan: what’s good for business is good for the nation.
The wealthy and the corporations own the media, the entertainment industry, educational and cultural institutions, think tanks, research facilities, and, in short, every vehicle that defines our thoughts, beliefs, culture, perspectives and worldviews. They churn out mass propaganda that reinforces their power and control. And we ingest it, absorb it, and ultimately believe it.
Through this totalitarian control, the sicknesses that ail our country – lack of compassion, the valuing of profit and wealth above all else, justified cruelty, hatred and oppression – creep into the crevasses of our beliefs and worldviews and take up toxic residence in our marrow. Layered and complex, this is the poisonous legacy of centuries of violence, conquest, bigotry, greed, supremacy and domination. Many of us spew this garbage out of our words, thoughts, and actions … unless we consciously rebel against such mental indoctrination.
The path toward cultural and mental liberation is three-fold. We must first disconnect from the propaganda. We must unplug from corporate media: television, movies, books, entertainment, news, and magazines that are owned by the wealthy and promote -in subtle or blatant ways – the agendas of the wealthy. We must deny them access to our minds and fast from the programming that is otherwise pounded into our skulls on a daily basis.
Secondly, we must clear out the programming as it resurfaces in our minds. We must become aware of our thoughts and beliefs. We must learn to question them, critique them, dissect and analyze where they came from and whom they serve. Every craving for material goods must be examined to see if it originates in advertisements. Every inclination toward hatred, discrimination or fear must be interrogated to see if it serves the desire of the wealthy to use us to oppress others, or to wage wars for their profits. Every thought that lauds the wealthy should be questioned deeply. We have absorbed their propaganda from fairy tales to rags-to-riches stories all the way up through economic theories in business schools. Everything we think we know must be critiqued if wish to free our minds, and if we hope to see real change in our world.
Thirdly, we must rebuild the framework of our worldviews and perspectives. To truly rebel against the programming and propaganda of an oppressor is not merely to kick out their agenda, but to replace it with principles, beliefs, and understandings of our own.
However, if it is true liberation we seek, then a word of caution must be spoken here. Fleeing one form of mental slavery into dogmatic subservience to another is still enslaving your mind. Liberation is about freedom. It entails exploration, examination, reflection, openness, adaptability, and flexibility. The most truly radical and revolutionary people are the ones who dance through the tangled webs of perspectives and beliefs, engaging with ideas, but not clinging to them. These are the kinds of people that all tyrants fear. They are uncontrollable by others, yet responsible to their compassion and the demands of accountability set in place by the heart.
When such free thinkers become not lone individuals, but thousands and millions of citizens, empires tremble in their boots. Tyrants and bullies know their days are numbered. Pedagogues and warmongers fail to gain traction for their domination games.
If we wish to see deep, profound change in our politics, society, and culture, this is the mental liberation we must cultivate in our selves and our communities. Only then will our elected officials have the necessary freedom of thought to throw off the yoke of indoctrination. Only then will we ourselves have the capacity to form and shape our society in a way that cares for and nurtures everyone, not just a privileged few. Only then will we become truly free human beings, the kind of people we were always meant to be.
Read more from The Man From The North in Rise and Resist: Essays on Love, Courage, Resistance, Politics, and Democracy from The Dandelion Insurrection
The Man From The North is a fictional writer in Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection and the sequel, The Roots of Resistance. The novel takes place in the near future, in “a time that looms around the corner of today”, when a rising police state controlled by the corporate-political elite have plunged the nation into the grip of a hidden dictatorship. In spite of severe surveillance and repression, the Man From the North’s banned articles circulate through the American populace, reporting on resistance and fomenting nonviolent revolution. This article is one of a series written by The Man From the North, which are not included in the novel, but have been collected in a book of essays Rise and Resist which can be read here
Author/Activist Rivera Sun has written twelve inspirational and hope-filled books that celebrate our human ability to create change for the better. Rivera’s writing is syndicated nationally and her articles have appeared in over one hundred journals. She speaks and teaches strategic nonviolent civil resistance inter-nationally. She was co-host for five years of several popular radio shows and can be reached through her website: www.riverasun.com