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Yana Berlin's post, I'm Angry has been rumbling around in my penchant for pondering ever since I read it a couple of weeks ago while still in Pennsylvania. I was moved to print it and mused over it outside under a tree where my inner voices speak with crystal clarity. I wander on precarious ground to expound on it, as the message couldn't have been better said or clearer than Yana expressed. I've encouraged her in the past that she should consider pursuing a more structured writing career. She's gifted with the talent and writes from her heart, a rarity really. And, goodness knows, we sure need more of the voice of reason 'out there'. Even riled reason.

'Brainwashing' is a term that carries trepidation in the minds of most. We think of Nazi Germany, or a radical religious cult. Few refuse to accept that they are capable of being brainwashed by the stimulant of constant sensory input everywhere we go, even the grocery store. It takes courage to even make such a claim about our culture, especially our educational system! Anytime a society is founded on competition and standards imposed by others, a subtle persuasion begins to rule our lives unbeknownst to us. Some is necessary to avoid chaos, I think of traffic lights, but most is NOT.  

There are executives making six figures plus devising ways to control the mindset of the masses. It begins in grade school with the grading system, in after school sports where the emphasis is winning at all costs, usually fed more by the parent's frenzy at a game. It's prevalent in the workplace where a promotion often depends on climbing on the back of a co-worker or violating a personal value. We become so engrossed in societal demands, we, yes, forget to think FOR ourselves, to be true to our own standards. To employ common sense and instinct. We inadvertently think only OF ourselves and what we stand to gain. We're compelled to become a 'member of the pack' in order to be deemed successful or acceptable.  

And, we think we are so far above the lesser creatures in the animal kingdom? We practice survival of only the fittest and compliance to pack standards in everything we do, including worship. But who defines 'fittest'? Who sets the standards? Really think about that for a moment! It’s scary.

In her post, Yana zeroed in on the problem of no one listening to the one boy who happened to have a different opinion, or perhaps, an alternative idea. Yet, what do we see night after night and day after day in the very halls of Congress that makes our laws, the workplace where we have to earn a roof over our heads, the media that supposedly is to inform us? Few businesses welcome a subordinate's idea or method. Media outlets are told what to broadcast and what to keep under wraps. Worse, what to play down, and what to exploit.

Daily, we are spoon fed 'breaking news' on what pill to take, what food to eat and not eat, what we should weigh. We are told to call a lawyer if we have a problem, a doctor if we have an upset stomach, and if a school calls and says there is a discipline problem with one of our children, we tend to attack the teacher or even sue!. Yet, we vote for a school board member without knowing a darn thing about them beyond what the neighbor told us. If we even vote at all in our local elections!  

We are told what to wear to be in style, how to wear our hair to be most attractive, what to clean our house with, and where to go for planning a vacation, if you can even take a vacation. When are we forced to contemplate an issue, research a question on our own, or choose a course to take in a given situation? When are we allowed, or encouraged to investigate several options and decide on what's best for us. Why do we look for someone else to 'lead' us or inform us?  

For that matter, why do we need a go-between to talk to God for us? Or for God to talk to us! That is the paradox of unworthiness on one side of the coin, and species arrogance on the other. On and on . . . there are hundreds of examples. We are so enmeshed in these methods we don't notice our own lack of critical thinking. It's just easier to be 'told' than to 'do', to learn through cause and effect!

In the course of writing several columns as Fab 40's 'Political' columnist, I think you would be hard-pressed to find one (all still available) in which I failed to implore that folks research issues, become familiar with their own congressperson's voting record, to study the issues and look beyond what's simply good for you and think of what is good for the country as a whole. I reiterated again and again that my thoughts were my opinion and encouraged others to form their own if they didn't agree.

Many commenters agreed with my ramblings and many attempted to refute them. At times, I had to walk away and breathe deeply to keep from being argumentative or even defensive; I am human, after all. But, this reaction usually happened only when I could see that the individual was quoting the same rhetoric heard continually on the airwaves as if it were gospel. Or, frankly, attempted to stand on solely their own personal religious doctrine. I'm a firm believer in separation of church and state and don't think most of the explosive controversial issues should even be part of a political platform. Talk about honoring the U.S. Constitution!  

I encouraged alternative ideas presented with decorum and researchable claims. This is how we learn, including me, to broaden our perspectives and have some empathy for the 'other guy'. This is also how we really teach our children. My heart aches for a child that is not taught responsibility, hard work, and integrity, and yes, manners. My heart also aches for parents who honestly believe they are giving their children a better life than they had by spoiling them rotten and seeing to it that they never have to face a challenge or want for a thing. Or, that the world is all about them.  I so agree with 'calling grandma!' The day will come you won't have one to call, and
probably 'Grandma' has forgotten more than we'll ever know about living life!

I admire the way in which Yana Berlin was raised in her Russian background. I am lifted that she is attempting to pass these old-fashioned values on to her own children, now adults. Personally, I am of the belief that every kid should have to work and stand on their own two feet for a year or two before they even enter an institution for higher learning. Rarely is an eighteen-year-old mind experienced enough NOT to be bait for brainwashing and peer pressure, the need to be 'part of the pack'. And,  even the teachers are told what or how to teach to meet the 'standards' or criteria set by that particular institution. Deviating in any way can be cause for dismissal. How easily we tend to sell our very soul for a job or society's acceptance.

Thank you, Yana, for bringing attention to a subject that is often avoided, defended, or even shunned. Yes, we as a society need many more voices like yours who are willing to tell it as they see it and the consequences of acceptance or non be dammed!

Susan Haley,
Author/Editor  

PS I'd like to publicly send my sincere condolences to China Doll on her recent tragedy. No one can even imagine her pain at such a loss. Thank you all for being patient during my extended absence. I so appreciate the private thoughts sent to me.


Susanhaley, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Oct 28, 2009
    • Thank you Susan, a compliment from a writer such as yourself is a true honor. I want you to know that it was YOU who inspired me to be frank and forward and get my message across, after I shared with you a piece I wrote last year “Can You Be A Little Pregnant“, (remember that?) estatic  it was you who encouraged me to speak my mind and not sweat the small stuff.  

      And thank you for reminding us once again that it’s up to US to do our research and to stop listening to the media. It’s up to us to take responsibility for our own actions and parent our children first and be their friends second.

      Welcome back, I look forward to your columns.

      Yana



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Oct 29, 2009
    • Very interesting article... Thx Susan!



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