Orwell’s Thought Police Meet the Baby Boomers

by , posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 at 7:00 am

It was a simple ride with a stranger on a train. She and I were both carrying signs from the Nurses United Rally in Chicago held on Friday, May 18. By our signs, we both knew we were on the same side of the political ‘discourse.’

Of course, the word ‘discourse’ is such a polite word that it implies what is going on in our national political blood fest is polite. It is anything but. And that is exactly what we were talking about.

“What can they be thinking?” I asked, thinking there is no real answer.

“That’s the problem,” she replied. “They’re not.”

And for the first time in a long time, I had the opportunity to think out loud with another person who was also thinking out loud about the nastiness, vitriol really, that is going on in our national political scene.

For the first time I began to understand. I began to see the big picture of how and why people can so easily be influenced to believe and act in ways that are so contrary to their own self-interests.

It has always puzzled me that people who call themselves right wing conservative Republicans can so consistently identify with and vote for a political party that so consistently screws them.

But now I think I understand. I have to say though, I’m not happy with the answer–because, you see, it doesn’t seem likely to change very quickly. And it requires I do some changing too.

The stranger sitting next to me was a psychotherapist with over twenty years of counseling experience.

“They aren’t thinking,” she replied. “They’re feeling.”

“Okay,” I replied. “So that’s the problem? They’re spending so much of their energy feeling that they aren’t actually thinking.”

“That’s it,” She said. “And it’s been planned that way.”

The right-wing think tanks and special interest groups such as the Heritage Foundation, the Civic Committee, American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, the Hoover Institution, Accuracy in Media and many, many more with lofty sounding names, are bought and paid for by billionaires bent upon preserving and enlarging their already huge moneyed domain–to the detriment of the rest of us.

Beginning in the 1970’s with the Powell Memo, they have steadily grabbed the national microphone and the teaching institutions of our country. They have been on an intentional, all out direct attack on any belief, agenda, and politician that could foster any interests that would in any way diminish corporate interests. These billionaires are concerned only with their bottom line finances. They couch their self-serving financial interests in terms and ideologies that frequently sound altruistic. They are the ‘Thought Police’ George Orwell warned us about in his book 1984.

I could never figure out how those billionaires could get away with this so smoothly and easily until talking with this stranger on the train that day.

“They have social scientists and psychologists to help them frame their agendas,” she said. “They know how to get deep into the hearts and minds of people to control them. They use fear.”

“Fear and anger are flip sides of the same coin,” she continued. “When you engage one, you engage the other. And when you engage either, you disconnect the mind.”

Disconnect the mind, engender fear and hate, divide, and you get what you want if you keep your eye on the prize. And keep an eye on the prize they certainly have done.

“Okay, I get it,” I said. “So what can we do now?”

Well, it turns out fear is a primal emotion–meaning it is at the core of our human condition, and basic to everyone. At the base of this fear is the fear of death. And for the most part, it’s unconscious. That makes it very easy to manipulate and a very power ally if you can. These people really know what they are doing.

With aging baby boomers, the unconscious fear of death looms really big. The loss of control that comes with aging looms really big too. And the largest group of ultra-right conservative voters is aging baby boomers.

But unfortunately, anyone with vulnerabilities is easily influenced by this ‘Fear/Anger/Control Tactic.’ Consider disenfranchised women, minorities, poor, the unemployed, anyone with little power.

Which brings me to this issue of hope.

“When I have someone in my office filled with fear, someone who has lost all hope in life and has their back up against the wall,” she said looking steadily into my eyes, “I ask them if they can trust in the process of life.”

That’s a really tall question for people if they have never been supported, or if their only ‘support’ has come from others demanding their acquiescence.

“The challenge here,” she continued, “is to focus inward. To truly know your power comes from within yourself, with your own choices, with your own voice.”

This is why demonstrations and political rallies, with people holding all those signs speaking their truths, are so invigorating. Lots of people gathered together, sharing their truth with each other, speaking truth to power.

Well, this thinking is in the opposite direction from the right-wing think tanks. They want people disempowered, not empowered. Silent, not speaking.

So the solution is in speaking your truth to power. Even when it is frightening. Probably especially when it is frightening.

But like, what can you loose? Your life? You’re going to loose that eventually anyway. You may as well dance with your truth and your voice in the process of your own life.

That’s when our conversation turned to me and I realized my own challenge. Because of the depth of the fear mongering done by right-wing groups, and given the depth of human primal fear, this issue is not likely to resolve itself within the next few months or even years.

“Okay, so Ellen,” she asked me, “do you trust in the process of life? Can you dance with your truth and your voice in the process of your own life?

To which I replied, “One step at a time–one dance step at a time.”


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