Thanking the Invisible, Guiding Hand

Posted: August 27, 2014 in Uncategorized
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In a movie entitled The Lottery of Birth, I got a fascinating glimpse of modern American existence as it relates to some very key topics, including: Education, Entertainment, Obedience, and Creativity. It focused on the importance of maintaining the status quo in the United States, and how some of our major institutions are complicit in accomplishing this.
One notable example was how the story of Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the New World is portrayed in the classroom. There, kids are taught that his arrival was a momentous occasion, worthy of celebration. While it’s true that Columbus’ arrival was momentous, it’s celebratory aspect would be diminished if the unedited story were told. Columbus and his men saw the natives, who had welcomed them with gifts and goodwill as threatening savages. They then wiped out a large number of the natives in a large-scale massacre on the natives.
Thus began the inauspicious beginnings of our cultural hegemony, a long-standing American tradition which continues today, even among its own citizens. The movie also illustrates how many aspects of modern American life are controlled by agendas created by external, faceless and even nameless entities, e.g. “the Company.”
9-to-5ers, for example, who spend five days a week working in myopic, highly controlled worlds have few freedoms, including prescribed bathroom breaks and meal times, and personal leave and vacation time allowances.
Restrictions are also placed upon news or magazine copywriters, whose content must fall within strict management-defined guidelines, while school teachers may create their own teaching methods, but with no curriculum deviation.
Next, the film details how and why higher education today has been scaled-down to eliminate graduates’ expectations of establishing careers, which greatly reduces both individual knowledge and wealth. Further, students won’t develop the analytical skills or sufficient requisite information to question society’s leaders, the thinking being that those who don’t know to ask, won’t.
My Silent, Silent Partner, I realized, has been my intuitive guide. As the grade school kid who knew something was up, but could not put his finger on it, I now understand its importance. So, even though my classmates seemed to function well within the highly-regimented classroom, I never accepted those limitations for myself. So, while others were busy “fitting in,” I was comfortable in playing the role of “odd man out.” In this I not only refer to college, but to all my classroom experiences.
Social Alienation is the best way I can explain being the “odd man out.” In essence, it meant those who did not accept someone else’s agenda as their own – like me – would effectively be omitted from all social interactions. What’s more, the nonparticipant – me – appeared stubbornly responsible for choosing not to participate in something with which I did not agree, but could not articulate. Even so, the status quo repeatedly tried to draw me back, believing that it’s insidious tactics would eventually bring a “nonconformist” like me back into the fold with everyone else.
In stating yesterday that it’s taken me a lifetime to realize that my thinking was misguided and even a copout, I realized this morning the benefit of questioning the validity of my lifelong attitudes. Happily, guided by my grade school intuition, my self-representation as being someone who thinks differently was spot on.
So, while I spent a great deal of my youth alone, I never thought of myself as a loner. Nor did I live a passive aggressive existence, standing quietly yet defiantly on a shifting, sandy riverbed as the world flowed around me. Instead, my Silent, Silent Partner unwittingly and adeptly handled my worldly contradictions, and freed me up to just be a kid.
That said, I wholly defend everything I stated in Shaking the Invisible, Guiding Hand, save for one key aspect; the motivations behind my thinking processes. My thinking is not – nor ever was – misguided at all but, in fact, spot on. As a kid, these concepts were over my head; I had no sentient thoughts on the matter.
However, as my thoughts matured, my subjectivity often conflicted with the largely objective world. Moreover, after college, there were even fewer people with whom I could share my pro-individualistic thoughts. Interestingly, I never questioned my thoughts until yesterday, when I really examined them. My sudden, 180-degree reversal yesterday, I now realize, was that of a man who’d grown weary of searching for a way to “fit in” to a world that would not have me. For a fleeting moment, the status quo almost had me.
Thankfully, I now see that my world is at odds with me and not the other way around. And, while I’m still not a loner, I still sometimes feel alone. But thanks to The Lottery of Birth, I know I’m in good company – and not alone – in threatening the status quo through my own independent thought.
Even so, the status quo has little to fear from free thinking people. It’s probable that, like me, other independent thinkers are a disjointed group of individuals, destined to never meet and to share our beliefs. What’s more, most don’t have the luxury of time as I do, instead opting for socially responsible pursuits, such as having a career, paying a mortgage, and raising a family. Such pursuits virtually require complete surrender of both our time and attention, and the status quo is thereby effectively maintained.
Those who differ with the status quo – as I have – may sooner or later discover their true selves. Whether it’s because of the words of independent-thinkers like Chomsky or Zinn, or anyone else, I shall always believe independent thought is something for which we should all be proud to have, and be willing to share. Long live creative individual expression and independent thought!

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