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Society and Politics

What to Do When an Entire Culture Goes Insane

Society and PoliticsMatthew Webb asks if our collective focus has gone astray from truth and reality. What does this imply for each of us as people of conscience and spiritual practice?

Has the culture in which we live gone insane? Many are asking this question today for a variety of reasons. Not the least of these is the widespread lust for war after war, for "Homeland Security" (report your neighbors today) and the Patriot Act, as a measure of one's "patriotism". Next in line is the decay of progressive social values, (love, kindness, free thought, clarity, wisdom) and the nearing collapse of the natural environment.

So in questioning the sanity of modern society, what we're really asking is, "Has our collective focus gone far astray from truth and reality?' The honest answer is simply "Yes". What does this imply for each of us as people of conscience and spiritual practice? This implies we should not participate in the madness.

Since the television is the single most important piece of modern technology when it comes to shaping and representing modern thought, let's take a brief look at the message it brings. Just turn on the television to any major channel, and observe the nonsense with an analytical eye. Right now we're in the midst of the so-called "holiday season", which gives a perfect opportunity to examine the values this society holds.

One of the most notable values which television constantly amplifies, is that of money = love. Yes, the message of money equals love is everywhere on the television dial for us to see. Taking that a step further would be to say that more money equals more love. For example, we see countless advertisements of a man presenting a woman with a diamond ring or necklace. In each "emotionally touching scene" a man is shown buying the "deep-felt affections" of a woman with diamonds, ("a girl's best friend") to which she immediately responds with a shocked look of absolute glee, and then immense gratitude. Such scenes literally drip with shallow, materialistic sentiment that is entirely arbitrary. This we are expected to believe, is how love is expressed. Similarly, friends, lovers and parents, join in to buy "holiday gifts" for each other, which are literally piled under dying trees in each happy little living room. The proud owners of those new luxury sedans are shown scooping up the admiration of passers-by, simply because of the supposed price tag of what they're driving. People who live in mansions are "better" than those who sleep on the street. In all of these occasions money and the material things it can buy supposedly represent prestige, social acceptance, loving affection, self identity and affluence, (success). Our society is filled from top to bottom with the arbitrary, (not real) assignment of values. Diamonds, gold and artworks are only "valuable" so long as other people believe them to be. A dollar bill is only a representation..it has no real value in and of itself. In fact, consumerism is all about hollow representation without substance. It is a facade and not reality.

Now some may argue that it is not THINGS which express love necessarily, it is the intent behind their giving which is important. For this reason they say, the whole holiday scene, in all of its ridiculous materialism, is justified. But let's step back a moment and analyze this. If intent is what really matters in gift giving, then why must diamonds be presented to show love, when a shiny rock or shell from the beach will do just as well? Why not a kind word truly meant? Can you imagine the look of complete adoration and love on a person's face in a TV scenario, if they were presented with a seashell instead of a 24 carat diamond mounted on platinum, costing $16000? No, to be realistic, that's hard to imagine in this culture. So the intent of giving is not the issue here. The issue is that money equals love, and that if you don't have any money, you're not capable of the kind of love most people expect to receive. Needless to say, this is not love at all..material objects do not necessarily express intent any more than words do.

In another advertisement, we see a leading credit card being used by the man who lives next door. The neighbors have placed a plastic snowman in their yard. Of course our man has to keep up with the Jones' and does the same. The next day the neighbors have three large snowman specimens in their yard, to which our disgruntled anti-hero responds by purchasing a huge, house-sized holiday lightshow. The ad ends by saying, "use, (so and so) for the things you would buy anyway". What does this ad and others like it teach us? They demonstrate that this society is based on shallow egotism, immediate emotional indulgence and a mindless, perverse fascination with material objects. Through these possessions we are supposedly made better people in the eyes of the world, and keeping up this social image is far more important than all other considerations combined, including your physical and mental health, spiritual growth, the environment and the welfare of all life on this planet. To ego we build monuments in the name of the Dollar-God. All are expected to worship this God by devoting our entire life energy in the accumulation of "things" in order to "impress" and "be successful". To say the very least, this is insanity on a wide-spread scale. It is cultural insanity, and almost everyone accepts it as "normal".

Next we have a grossly obese, white-bearded fat man, who wears a red and white suit, resembling a bath robe in very poor taste. He floats in a sled driven by levitating reindeer at Christmas time, (which has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ or his message) and who shouts Ho, Ho, Ho! as he drops offerings through chimneys to the faithful worshippers of materialism. Tens of millions of trees are grown and then stand dying, in the midst of an orgy of material indulgence, whose limits are only governed by how much one can spend on things they don't really need. It's all very bizarre, and it means absolutely nothing except to retailers, who cater to this exercise in waste and futility for months prior to December 25th. Why can't gifts be given any time of year, and why are they considered obligatory at Christmas? Do most people question this nonsense? No. This is but one example of how a culture has gone quite insane. ALL the so-called holidays are like this.Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, New Years, Mother's Day, Father's Day.all of it. The rest of the year people spend preparing for these orgies of materialism, and never ask why. Nor do they ask what a REAL expression of love is, apart from egotism and personal concerns. Insanity rules the day, and these are just some graphic examples. This is to say nothing about the merits of continual war and wastefulness, while millions die every week of starvation, disease and despair the world over.

When one man goes insane, he becomes a problem to the community. When he is bent on fantasy rather than facts, becomes chronically drugged or mentally deranged, the community must respond. When any individual would prefer war over peace, would rather harm than do good, turns utterly irrational, and whose acts contribute to the destruction of all, it is then that the culture in which they live must do something to prevent further destruction

But what happens when an entire culture goes insane, is bent on fantasy rather than facts, becomes chronically drugged and mentally deranged? What happens when an entire society would prefer war over peace, would rather harm than do good, turns utterly irrational and whose acts contribute to the destruction of all life on Earth? This is what happens..the sane are the ones viewed as "dangers" to the established social order. It is the revolutionaries who, on a sane world would be viewed as true heroes and leaders, but on an insane world are seen only as fringe elements to be crucified on the cross of ignorant fears. It is the geniuses and caretakers among us who then become the enemy to be purged, to be monitored and reported to the "authorities". It is then that the most insane are placed in positions of authority and power, while the still lucid and progressive among us are first watched with suspicion, and ultimately either killed, imprisoned or at the very least, generally ostracized and ignored.

THIS is exactly where we are at as a society..insanity has become the norm. Questioning anything is viewed with utmost suspicion and contempt. The people think in terms of canned laugh tracks dubbed into the absurd dialog of sit-com actors, whose comments any sane six year old would find repulsive, if for no other reason than they mean absolutely nothing. Game shows and soap operas are the common mainstay for mental health and activity, in this prozac gulping comedy of errors. Alcohol, cigarettes and a host of other addictions mark the commonly accepted mental illness and emotional imbalance of daily life. Yet another war killing millions horribly, is barely pause for daily conversation, unlike far more important subjects like the weather and what one had for breakfast. People struggle and compete for who can earn more dollars per annum, just so that they can have a newer car or a bigger house, while destroying their minds, bodies and each other in the process. Few even consider WHY these are the established goals in life.

Millions die of starvation the world over, or of completely unnecessary conflicts over ideals which serve no one, or because an oil field is present, and all for the sake of corporate profit margins. Foods are genetically engineered in bizarre and unnatural ways, not for nutrition but for the sake of a longer shelf life. Poisons are introduced into our food, water, air and vaccines, simply to promote a better quarterly report on a Wall Street analysts' desk, and to boost "investor confidence". People suffer the world over as minimum wage slaves producing sweat shop goods for egotists, (while their children starve) so that the products of certain companies "remain competitive" and keep their costs of manufacture at a minimum. This has become the accepted norm of modern "civilization", where the concept of "human rights" is a barely concealed lie and very few really care about what happens to the human race, so long as they are comfortable for another month, week, day or hour. The U.S. Bill of Rights is dead, and the Constitution is dying by the day.and all, supposedly, for the sake of our "safety". Are we safe yet?

Insanity has become the norm of governments, groups and individuals alike, while those few who are warning that our species is on the brink of its own self destruction are largely ignored. People would like to assume that their wastefulness, their utter destructiveness and egotism, can and should go on forever. They would like to assume that the whole universe exists for them to exploit, and that only greed rules the day. It is the majority who assumes that those who seek peace and enlightened solutions for the world's ills are weak and naïve, since they obviously have not understood the "dog eat dog" nature of reality. In fact, greed is the value of the modern world which is the most valued, second only to egotism, which is its twin. These values literally define the stated social goals of "success" and "fame", and without which our consumer culture could literally not function. Those in the vast majority who simply refuse to see that consumerism and materialism will be the death of this world and the dollar they worship, will die a hard death indeed. And that outcome is not very distant in the future. More than just millions will die. BILLIONS will become the food for worms, and all because we stupidly imagined that the universe was something for us to use up, rather than something to learn from.

An example of the absurd, insane lengths to which ego and greed can go, let's look at the "most successful" among us;

For example.

New charges of fraud against the ex-CEO of Tyco International, Dennis Kozlowski, have revealed a level of decadence amongst today's ruling circles that would put the court of France's King Louis XIV to shame. According to a report commissioned by current Tyco management and released last month, personal items that Kozlowski billed to the company included a $2,200 wastebasket, $5,960 for two sets of sheets, a $6,000 gold and burgundy shower curtain, a $6,300 sewing basket, a $15,000 poodle-shaped umbrella stand, a $17,100 traveling toilet box, all the way down to a $445 pincushion.

These incidentals were part of the $11 million worth of furnishings for his Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City, which he bought for $16.8 million (plus $3 million in renovations) with money borrowed from Tyco, most of which he never paid back. Earlier loans, also forgiven, paid for his $29.8 million Boca Raton, Florida mansion and for a $7 million New York City co-op apartment for his ex-wife as part of a divorce settlement. The report alleges that, in total, Kozlowski improperly authorized the company to lend him $61.7 million for real estate and other purchases.

Divorce papers filed in court earlier this month against retired General Electric Corporation Chairman and CEO John F. Welch Jr. provided a glimpse into the lifestyle of America's corporate elite. In her suit to dissolve their 13-year marriage, Jane Beasley Welch complains that the $35,000 per month offered by her husband is nowhere near enough to maintain the "extraordinary" standard of living that they enjoyed together.

Her papers quantify $126,820 in monthly expenses incurred by the couple, not counting sizable additional amounts paid by General Electric as perks to its former chief executive. Among the most significant items, GE provides a company-owned luxury apartment at the Trump International Hotel and Towers on Central Park West in New York City. Besides allowing Welch to live there rent-free, GE picks up the tab for such additional necessities as fresh flowers, wine, laundry and dry cleaning services, a cook and wait staff, a housekeeper, and every other detail down to toiletries, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, even postage. GE also pays a portion of Welch's dining bills at the exclusive restaurant Jean Georges, which is located in the building.

Additionally, Welch receives a free grand tier box at the Metropolitan Opera, memberships at four country clubs, including Georgia's prestigious Augusta National, court-side tickets to New York Knicks basketball games, box seats behind the dugout at Yankee Stadium plus a skybox for the Boston Red Sox, prime tickets to the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open tennis tournaments, VIP tickets to all Olympic events, and unlimited use of a corporate Boeing 737 jet. The cost of this last item alone is estimated at $291,869 a month.

The list goes on. GE pays for Welch's limousine and driver in New York, bodyguards when he travels abroad, satellite TV installations in his New York apartment and his three other homes in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida. And, Mrs. Welch reports, GE contributed $7.5 million over the course of their marriage to help furnish the four homes with appliances, security systems and sophisticated computer and telecommunications equipment, with GE employees assisting with the installation.

Welch's lavish lifestyle-at company expense even in retirement-is typical of the elite group who dominate the world's economic life. The bursting of the stock market bubble has brought into the open numerous other instances of top executives looting corporate assets for personal use.

THESE are the values to which the average person is expected to gladly adhere. This they are expected to do without the slightest regard for the real world consequences which are their implicit result. Government policy is no different. Among the consequences are environmental destruction, the conversion of the worlds' people into sweat shop slaves, the motives for greedy wars and the general decay of goodwill among men. All of this is for the sake of worshipping the dollar as God, and to which all other Gods are but false idols in comparison.

If there is any doubt in the reader's mind regarding these conclusions, then let us review further the implications of our consumerist, materialistic and militaristic world view.

Military Expenditures for 2002

Global military expenditures currently exceed $800 BILLION! The top military spenders are (in billions):

  • United States $343.2
  • Russia* $60
  • China $42
  • Japan $40.4
  • United Kingdom $34
  • Saudi Arabia $27.2
  • France $25.3
  • Germany $21
  • Brazil $17.9
  • India $15.6
  • Italy $15.5
  • South Korea $11.8

* Based on 2000 funding (most recent year available) Global Priorities For approximately 30% of Annual World Military Expenditures (~$810 billion).

All of the following could be accomplished if only a portion of such monies were spent for sane purposes...

  • To Eliminate Starvation and Malnutrition ($19 billion)
  • To Provide Shelter ($21 billion)
  • To Remove Landmines ($4 billion)
  • To Build Democracy ($3 billion)
  • To Eliminate Nuclear Weapons ($7 billion)
  • To Refugee Relief ($5 billion)
  • To Eliminate Illiteracy ($5 billion)
  • To Provide Clean, Safe Water ($10 billion)
  • To Provide Health Care and AIDS Control ($21 billion)
  • To Stop Deforestation ($7 billion)
  • To Prevent Global Warming ($8 billion)
  • To Stabilize Population ($10.5 billion)
  • To Prevent Acid Rain ($8 billion)
  • To Provide Clean, Safe Energy: Energy Efficiency ($33 billion)
  • To provide renewable Energy ($17 billion)
  • To Stop Ozone Depletion ($5 billion)
  • To Prevent Soil Erosion ($24 billion)
  • To Retire Developing Nations Debt ($30 billion)

If such values as those mentioned above do not change very soon, and on a widespread basis, humankind will very simply become extinct. Since it looks unlikely that most people can be convinced of this obvious fact, it would also seem that we are merely a species waiting for its imminent death. While we commit suicide at a faster and faster rate, the best hope of the average person, (who is without spiritual focus) is simply to die without undue pain.

For those of us who would prefer to keep our sanity and the honesty that goes along with it, our path will take us in a very different direction. For the sane there is only one best course of action available today. That is the total and unconditional rejection of everything which society now stands for, because there is absolutely nothing of value left in it.

There is no political solution to these ills. No new government, law, constitution or bill of rights will act as remedy for widespread social insanity. Every form of government and law enforcement can only smooth over such deep seated social problems/beliefs without ever addressing their cause. People still think that by voting or writing letters to congressmen, that this is going to change society for the better. But they are mistaken. So long as the values of our age are in place, (materialism, militarism, egotism) there is no hope for the future of the human race. We are already dead, it's just that most of us would like to pretend otherwise. Congressmen, senators and presidents are no more capable of lucid, sane action than is the average citizen. It is time we thought and lived for ourselves, instead of waiting for idiots in high places to somehow come to their senses, (let alone admit their corruption and dishonesty).

We must reject society

To identify with modern society is to identify with a strong urge for mass suicide and self mutilation. To share any values of this death culture is to invite death and suffering of like kind. In rejecting society and everything it stands for, we are enabled to think for ourselves. As we think for ourselves, we develop far higher and more productive values than those which currently exist. With those higher values we learn that spiritual purposes are the highest to which we may aspire. They are also the most beneficial. As spiritual practitioners, we are the only hope humanity has left, to ever correct the insanity which now infects every aspect of modern culture like a plague.

For further reading and specific, sane actions we can take, read The Survivalists' Guide for the New Millennium at http://www.eoni.com/~visionquest in our World Mind Society Library.

The World Mind Society website exists for the benefit of all thinking people, and those with a revolutionary spirit. They work for the further evolution of humanity, for truth and social progress, worldwide.


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