The Illusion of Choice

 

 

 

 

 

 

We live in interesting times with one foot dragging behind mired in the memory of a gilded past and the other poised to go off the edge into a dark unknown abyss. It’s preferable to focus on the comfortable illusion of sameness, ignoring the obvious signs of change especially if the change is not so good.

Our planet is in trouble and so is our spirit and our collective soul.  In a world with a swelling population and dwindling resources it’s easy to zone out on the meaningless and glaze over that gnawing feeling with yet another distraction and there ate plenty distractions to keep us occupied.

 

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“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.” ― Noam Chomsky

We are bombarded with messages everyday, bits of information, much of it totally useless that invade our minds on constant basis. Most of us are used to this constant stream of stimuli. Some of us thrive on it, and depend on it.

These messages are unimportant useless fluff that disguise themselves are dire. They cover up what is truly important. They lull us into complacency, we are not required to think, they do that for us.

They provide our heroes. the dreams and the ideals that we as responsible consumers should aspire to.They also tell us who to point the finger at and there are endless sources of blame to go around.

They give us our scapegoats. They prey upon our fears which they too have cleverly crafted.

 

Credit: Banksy
Art by Banksy

We are managed and manipulated by a system that has become rigged against most of us to benefit a privileged very few. Our lovely planet that belongs to all of us is becoming more and more privatized and profitized used to feed an bulging worldwide economy with a hearty appetite that never stops being hungry.

We are told we must have endless war. That we are not safe.

We are told that the worthiness of a human life is measured by one’s assets. We are told a lot of things.

They distract us. They divide us. We are told what and who to fear. They are very good at this because they have been doing it for so long.  They provide the illusion of choice.

 

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Treated like children we are presented with limited choices, usually two. This team or that team?  Coke or Pepsi? Red or Blue? Republican or Democrat? Left wing or Right?  When in reality it’s the same damn bird.  They who control what we see and and hear they would let us believe these are the only choices but they are not, far from it.  We do have real choice and we can make the world a better place for us all.

There are forces that would polarizes us. They divide us with their illusion of choice.

They want to keep us from finding common ground. Pitting one side against another, distracting us from our common enemy. Because as drastic as that sounds there is an enemy and it those who pull the crooked strings, those in the shadows, the ones that have the game rigged.

 

 

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They manipulate everything they can. There is no pie they haven’t already eaten most of and they are still very hungry.  We are being forced to share what little is left. They distract us with this and that. They divide us. And they are very good at it.

Most of us exist on the bottom of a great pyramid where those very few on the top live on the backs of those on the ever widening bottom. The very top depends on this arrangement and pretty much always has, we the people are waking up to that illusion of choice; that our much touted and much admired democracy is an outright and blatant lie and has been for a long time.

 

pyramid-dollar

 

 

 

Art by Banksy
Art by Banksy

 

consumerism
“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.” ― Philip Slater

 

Together we are powerful.  A force to be reckoned with. And we can remake the world into what we want it to be. We can heal our planet and ourselves. We can take back what rightfully belongs to ourselves and future generations.  We can refuse to play, to go along with the idiocy of the day.

We need to focus on what we agree with not what do not, this separates us. We need each other; divided we fall but united we stand strong.

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“We can change the world with every thought we have and every word we speak.” –Alberto Villoldo

 

We can get back to basics. Turn off the damn TV. Go outside. Go for a walk and leave your car behind.  Talk to your neighbors. Grow some tomatoes.  Don’t buy anything you don’t really need. Open your mind. Open your heart. Question what you are being told. Speak up and speak up for others who cannot.

Topple their false idols and render their marketplace a ghost town.

How did this become our God?
How did this become our God?

 

Perhaps we can break out of the illusion and make our own choices. I do think we do have a choice and despite what one may hear about rigged elections and the like, I know for a fact that money talks. Don’t buy what you are being sold. Question what you are being told. Listen to what your inner voice tells you.

Encourage free thought. Listen to those who may have a different view that you. Seldom if ever is one side 100% right or 100% wrong for that matter. Listen to those who may be supporting a different presidential candidate than you. Many of us have friends and family members who fit that category and it is easy to be confused at their choice or their lack of choice at all but there can be found nuggets of universal truths and wisdom everywhere and in everyone, seek that out. Let us not be separated from each other at a time when we need each other the most. In reality we are all on the same side. No matter who is elected to any public anywhere. It is we the people who matter and it we the people can make a difference.

 

~NLM

love-peace-art-street-graffiti“Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls. Books, not weapons. Morality, not corruption. Intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance. Stability, not fear and terror. Peace, not chaos. Love, not hate. Convergence, not segregation. Tolerance, not discrimination. Fairness, not hypocrisy. Substance, not superficiality. Character, not immaturity. Transparency, not secrecy. Justice, not lawlessness. Environmental improvement and preservation, not destruction. Truth, not lies.”

Suzy Kassem

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Schools of Thought: The benefits of an educated populous

vintage-school-kids-life-magazine education
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
― Plutarch

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What is the value of a  productive member of a society? In what ways does a civilization benefit from the works of an educated and thriving population? Does society in fact benefit so greatly from an educated workforce and a knowledgeable citizenry that to deny this benefit is not only not beneficial at all but wasteful and just plain stupid.

There is no doubt to the value of a college education or work training. Society benefits greatly from a workforce that has been fully prepared for the diverse and challenging workplace of today. The cookie cutter one-size-fits-all, the test-test-test atmosphere of the current educational system in The United States is, in my opinion, sorely lacking.

Society benefits from a educated workforce in many ways: higher levels of education corresponds to lower levels of unemployment and poverty in general and this in turn provides more tax revenue to the state and less burden on social assistance  programs such as food stamps and welfare. An educated populous is healthier with lower smoking and obesity rates and with more positive perceptions of personal health in general.  Higher levels of education are correlated with higher levels of civic participation, including volunteerism and voting.

If there is no doubt to the benefits of an educated populous, why are we so lacking?

There’s no shortage of people who care and it is not from the lack of effort from many dedicated educational professionals, parents, volunteers and students.. on all fronts.  There is certainly much debate on this subject of how to fix our broken educational system, it is obvious that indeed it is broken. We can all agree on that at least. Whatever we are doing is not working, but we cannot seem to reach a consensus on how to fix the problems.  In my opinion  part of the problem is as with many issues, we are going by the blueprint of another era. Our models and way of thinking is outdated. The world is undergoing rapid change on many fronts and we are dealing with issues we never would have dreamed up even a decade ago. We rely too heavily on what has “worked” in the past and I think we tend to cling too tightly to tradition and ceremony. Innovation is viewed with a cautious and weary eye. It seems whenever new ideas that work on a smaller scale are implemented on the much larger scale disaster happens. This could be part of our problem as well. We approach education with a one-size-fits-all strategy.

Diversity and innovation are not only not encouraged but discouraged. Feel-good, do-nothing campaigns with misleading names that embrace cheap easy answers only compound the problem.

Students are more likely to be taught what to think not how to think for themselves.

In the effort to provide certain standards we have over standardized ourselves. We have pigeon-holed our thinking that everyone learns the same way.  We know this is far from the truth as many factors determine the success of a student including socioeconomic status.  The successful student is more likely to be a successful adult, meaning one who contributes positively to the community and society in general.

Many don’t get this chance. Many perfectly capable people are lost in a system that rewards who you know and what you have instead of what one can do and the content of your character.

I can’t help but notice how illogical this system is where we base how someone will contribute to society by the economic status that one is born into. Opportunities are missed and talents squandered.  The best person for a particular job or profession may not necessarily be the person who’s parents could afford to foot the bill for the education required.

I think about all the bright people with talents and ideas that will never be realized because of their geographic and/or economic status. I think of the result of that lost potential; the loss to society and the world at large.

There is no doubt that a mind is a terrible thing to waste yet this is what happens. People come in all sizes and shapes; all kinds of backgrounds, socially and economically. A diverse population brings to the table a wide array of talents and experiences. This is one of the aspects that have made the United States so successful in the past. This and our capability for dedicated, hard work.

Oak-Trees

We have it in us to become great but we need the valuable contributions of us all in order for that to happen. Good ideas are like seeds they not only need to be exposed to the light, they need care and feeding order to grow. Good ideas can sometimes become great ones and like a mighty oak tree provide shade for many on a hot day.  And oh my friends don’t let a blast of wintry weather in the winter fool you…we are going to have quite a few hot days in the future and we need all the oak trees we can get.

 

Student Loan Debt education

We can longer afford to throw away the minds and talents of people who weren’t born at the right place at the right time to the right parents. We can no longer afford to punish those who seek an education “above their” station” by saddling them with the crushing burden of potentially lifelong debt.  There is too much at stake.

quote education noam

We the people need to make this a priority. The middle class should be on the endangered species list and a part of the widening gap between those that have and those that have not is the access to higher education and work training beyond high school. This should not be a luxury for only those who can afford it it should be the right for all citizens and a necessity of any modern civilized society that wants to have a chance in the global marketplace.

One of the best things about human beings is our innate talent for creation and innovation and the ability to work effectively to realize a dream fulfilled or have an idea come to fruition.  We are smart and capable, all of us regardless of race, color, sex , religion….or the economic status we are born into.

The American dream is alive but it’s lying in a hospital bed sicker than a dog…gasping and sputtering and wondering what went wrong. It is up to us to fix this mess.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
―    Nelson Mandela

Thanks for listening,

Strawberryindigo.
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References and related articles

Five stereotypes about poor families and education (washingtonpost.com)

Higher Education cuts fuels student debt crisis (america.aljazeera.com)

Where U.S. stands in education internationally — new report  (washingtonpost.com)

Six Years of High School? An Educational Experiment in Chicago (thetakeaway.org)

Strange Schools (atlasobscura.com)