By Steven J. M. Jones
June 11, 2011
“Propaganda Steers our Opinion Exactly where it is Intended to Go.”
By its own definition it is media’s job to tell us about ourselves and the world around us, to enable us to make informed decisions in a democratic society. That’s the theory.
Now, let’s look at reality:
Media has become a mirror of the disconnected state that humanity finds itself in. News, current affairs, even the dramas and reality TV shows that entertain us serve to exacerbate the religion of polarity being reflected back to us in all its forms – materialism, hatred, killing, idolization and separation. Almost all television, be it sagas and melodramas or daily news, is as addictive as any drug. This single dimensional ‘pulpit’ from which media preaches to us (often in the centre of our living rooms) actually seeds many of our negative behavior patterns in day-to-day life.
Dramas and melodramas aside, we have been led to believe that the news and current affairs programs we watch are true, unbiased, fair. Often this is anything but the case. News is provided, increasingly, by a select few. Those who have views outside what the owners of global media want us to hear and see have found themselves without a platform from which to present their knowledge and opinions.
Governments ensure that only the very powerful are able to access our living rooms by staking ownership and guardianship of the airwaves through licensing priced well outside the reach of ordinary people. As a result the news we see in all developed countries, particularly those of Anglo-Saxon ethnicity, is exactly the same, word for word, picture for picture. There is purpose behind this; it ensures that the now global corporate empires of media become bigger and more powerful, gobbling up any small players along the way. A select few controlling interests effectively distort democracy by shaping public opinion through deception on a grand scale.
The news we watch steers our attention in the direction needed to affect the outcome desired by this greedy, inhumane elite. It perpetuates polarity and provides the momentum necessary for its growth. Our feelings of vengeance and self-righteousness, seeded by lack of balance and distortion of truth reported to us in our news, is the fuel needed for us to supply ‘boy-power’ for the wars we are about to wage (or are already waging). In the few years since television made its debut into society, people who would be dictators have found the perfect uninterrupted medium through which to shape opinion every night of the week – they do it from behind the scenes by filtering the news and programming we watch. It is interesting that the first ever public television broadcast was of Adolph Hitler opening the Olympic games in Munich – he understood the immense potential of this new communication medium. Media can be the most powerful tool of freedom for a people but it can also be the most powerful instrument of propaganda.
It is considered good reporting to present a news story that shows as much violence as can be tolerated by the average family during or shortly after dinner time. Almost always this violence is aimed at promoting law and order, or steering our opinion regarding some conflict abroad. If we were shown the degree of violence which our nations have unleashed on millions of people the world over, on our behalf, we would be horrified and would quickly rise up against those governing us. But, alas, we are not shown these revealing images. Propaganda steers our opinion exactly where it is intended to go. Disturbing, angry, fear-invoking images are the norm, always biased to keep us on side.
It is our spiritual starvation, our endless wanting, that has grown media into what it has become. For many of us the most exciting dreams we have are to possess whatever product we have seen that we most want. For some of us the most exciting event of the day is the color brochure that arrives in our mail, full of dreams in the form of things we can purchase. Whole programs are presented where we watch the best ads. Whole channels exist where all programming is advertising. Media is actually supplying the information that sells and is in demand. As ego-selves in denial of the common thread linking each of us through creator-self, we do not realize the true implications of this demand. We have not yet come to understand the impact it has upon our world. Media is much more than a vehicle for supplying us with information to make decisions – it gives us the very raw materials with which we create even more misery.
One of the most basic factors determining whether or not a story is newsworthy is the level of interest the story will generate. The more interesting the story, the more people tune in, the greater the advertising revenue for the television station. Because we are raised to believe almost exclusively in competition, excitement is generated by seeing the suffering of another individual – by taking a side and watching our side win. Stories of co-operation are rare and much less popular than those showing competition. When co-operation is shown it is usually in the form of one team against another, one army against another, etc. This is not co-operation in the true sense. True co-operation would mean one team, one humanity, one earth – why would any aspect of the whole wish to attack one of its parts?
Even our nature shows teach us that co-operation in the natural world is all but non-existent and that animals are just like we should be – in a perpetual state of war, heterosexual, and in many cases mating (‘married’) for life. We have imposed our subjective evaluation on them, turning a blind eye to the reality of the animal kingdom. When we see a nature program showing animals in the wild, we are led to believe that life is war – a perpetual state of hunting and being hunted. Those who have actually experienced the real natural world, now a minority of humans, know this is clearly a deception. Film crews spend months, sometimes years waiting patiently for these exciting scenes. While on the lookout for their safety, animals generally enjoy freedom and peace the likes of which we have forgotten to even dream about. Predators only hunt what they need, usually taking out the weak or the excess. Furthermore, sexuality and its expression in the animal kingdom is anything but what we have been led to believe. It is colorful, diverse and natural. While well meaning, those who interpret animal behavior for us are often biased by their societal belief systems, subjectivity seeded by religion – all too often Christianity and Judaism.
Most media outlets are commercial ventures designed primarily for the purposes of creating wealth. They need to sell program content (product) that is desirable, their commercial interests paramount at all times. Of the few media outlets that are not constrained in this way, most are government funded. These outlets, contrary to what we would like to believe, also have to satisfy their funders. This media sector tends to attract players of a particular political bent whose self-preservation (job, financial future and retirement benefits) rely on the illusion that we need more and more governing; more controls and restrictions placed on us.
We have a politically left-leaning bias in the publicly owned media and a right-leaning bias in the privately owned media. Polarity, once again. It is not the direction of leaning that matters but the leaning itself. This leaning results in people being pitted against one another. (Needless to say, the bias of religiously sponsored media speaks for itself and we need hardly waste our time re-iterating its methods.)
Media does report on the problems and challenges of our world, but in a way that is largely superficial. All too often media actually misinforms us by providing the illusion that we are being properly informed. We hear stories about terrorism, earthquakes, floods and famines. We hear of our frailty against an ever-increasing array of attacks commissioned by the invisible world of bacteria and viruses, frailty that can be counterattacked by mega-corporations behind the medical industry. With only ego, without spiritual grounding in and through ourselves, these reports succeed in invoking even more fear.
It is all about us and them, whether they are another tribe, another religion, another country, another animal, another ‘dumb’ piece of rock crumbling into the ocean, or a disease that we should all fear. All they have to do is tell us something is bad for us and we believe them. ‘They’ have become our father-figure who we trust and look to for guidance. This is a grave error on our behalf because many of these people are completely irresponsible and utterly selfish. We have allowed ourselves to become disempowered, cowering and fearful, ready to be herded through any gate and into any trap. Nothing is our enemy if and when we decide to believe in ourselves. Believing in ourselves awakens us to the reality that our earth is alive, intelligent. As with our bodies, earth ‘speaks’ to us, not in words but in feelings – feelings we should be listening to.
Our current paradigm is primitive, patriotic, and dangerous. Our respective countries’ national sport is a case in point. It all seems like a load of fun – beer swilling, flag waving, drunken crowds, rowdy cheering in grandstands and dingy bars, fights and riots after the game. A national sport is designed to promote patriotism; it is an extended and continuous war game in which many of us are unwitting contributors. Through competitive spectator sport we have created an activity that is the domain of a minority of physically-suited individuals. For the majority of people who are either unable to achieve such high standards of performance or simply don’t desire the activity enough to partake, participation is reduced to that of mere spectator. We are entertained just like the ancient crowds watching gladiators in the Roman coliseum; the only thing that pulls a crowd to its feet faster than a goal is a fight. The result is that the overall fitness level of our media-orientated society continues to reach new lows.
It is during commercial breaks that we are targeted on an even more personal level. The best way to sell something to an unconscious self is to tap into one of the many fears associated with that disconnection. We are promised extended youth, greater beauty, power, success – all these can be ours for the right price. The only effort required is a little shopping. The need for more stuff is never-ending. We experience a short term high when we bag the latest product on the shelf, but the unwritten guarantee is that, if we follow the rules of this game, we will come to the same end as everyone else. That is, we will eventually become old, diseased, and finally die. Why, advertisements even allow us to pre-pay for our own funeral!
If this is not a dark enough picture, there is another side to it – one that is almost completely hidden from us. Our ever-increasing need to consume more is the fuel that feeds the global engine churning greater material imbalance and misery by the day. You may already know this, but if you are able to afford power, television, even this book, you are part of a privileged minority of humanity at this time. Most inhabitants of the earth have no such luxury; many cannot even read (not because they are stupid, but because they did not have the opportunity of learning to read). The greater percentage of humans has only one concern and that is whether they are going to be able to eat today. For many this dire situation is directly related to our imperialism, our greed, our soullessness. Each of us in the richest nations is destined to consume 15 to 150 times what one of these people consumes in a lifetime! If we in the west have just two children, it is equivalent to giving birth to a small to medium sized village in many parts of the Third World!
Our cheap luxuries more often than not come from the places where this ‘other half’ lives. To produce our cheap products, not just Nike and The Gap, but almost all our products, many people work an entire month for a wage that is less than what the average Westerner earns in a day. This is the only way they can put food on their tables. The profits for our cheap products stay in the hands of greedy Westerners and oligarchs.
Maybe, instead of merely pointing our soiled fingers at pariah companies brought to our attention by sensational programs targeting just a handful, we should look at what we really need as individuals. Instead of feeling guilty about what we buy, maybe we should look after what we own instead of throwing it out when the look changes. Maybe we should learn to maintain and fix things with our own hands, or be prepared to pay others who have taken the time to learn these valuable skills fairly and proportionately for their time. We have lost respect for some of the most important people in society and it is at our peril because young people are not being encouraged to learn practical, hands-on vocations. A kitchen full of managers cannot cook a meal. A community full of government workers, councilors and inspectors, inventing and enforcing more and more regulations, cannot make for a functional, creative, productive or self-sustaining society. Practical skills will become invaluable in a real-world sustainable situation.
As individuals we certainly have enough challenges to deal with ourselves. Most of us feel that we have little or no control over what happens on the other side, in the so-called ‘Third World.’ By stepping one by one off the treadmill we actually provide the only real opportunity for these people to begin reassessing their needs. Because we cannot know anyone else’s plight we are wise indeed to allow them to proceed without hindrance. Social revolution is beginning to take place in many significant parts of the developing world, most notably South America. It is in our best interests to allow and observe these revolutions, not judge or interfere with them.
Although we are economically better off than many in the world today, we are not in any way more independent than the poverty-stricken masses in developing nations. Most of us do not even know where our food comes from or how it is grown. If we were to lose our infrastructure for more than a few days we would be in far worse shape than many people in the Third World. Our infrastructure, contrary to what we might like to believe, is weak and fragile. It needs constant maintenance and repair to keep it running. The day will come when we will once again need to face the reality that co-operation with the natural world is the only way to put food on our tables. Cell phones, high tech devices, flashy vehicles and silk suits are quite inedible.
Time and again we become convinced of the benefits of buying some product, only to find out later that the same product invokes disease. ‘Smoke these cigarettes for vitality,’ ‘Pay for that tanning session so that you may have a younger, healthier look’ – just a few short years ago these were our mantras. Now that statistics have been gathered to tell us that smoking is bad, that tanning chambers can damage our skin, the loop of disconnection is complete – we buy into what they say.
Lack of self-esteem, desire to conform; these are the true reasons we took up our habits in the first place. The addictions mask our fears. Our creator-self tries but ego wins. Tobacco, like sun, can be medicine. It is us that have turned dis-ease into disease. Knowing our guilt, governments are now free to tax us whatever they like; smokers are reminded every time they light up how bad they are. Others, piously confronting them for their bad habits, accusing smokers of affecting their health, fly to far away places, use the same environmentally harmful products (including a plethora of pharmaceutical drugs that end up in the water system), drive their cars and generate dangerous microwave fields with their cell-phones, not to mention wobbling around with tens, sometimes hundreds of pounds of extra fat. We dare not point out the oxymoron – they have the weight of current public phobia on their side. But this is just the beginning. A new doorway into judging and mistreating others has been opened and tested. A whole sector of society has been openly branded as inconsiderate, unhealthy, stupid – a burden. Who, we should ask, might be next?
Media at our collective behest is the tool that is used to spread so many false ideologies into our culture. We have been lulled into believing exactly what media wants us to believe. Allowing media into our homes and heads is a privilege, not for us, but for them. We, once fully conscious, will filter out the polarity being channeled to us. Self-empowered, we will observe and steer ourselves on our individual journey towards full awakening. Using the most powerful tool we have, our contemplative minds, we will once again have time to think for ourselves.
Media and its message can be our ally, confirming the insights that come from assimilation with our creator-selves. It need not serve as a torturous guide into the world of fear and loss, victims and martyrs, hatred and blame, servitude and slavery. From a newly empowered position outside the pendulum of polarity, media can provide stark evidence of the intensifying circle that has been cast, one from which there is no way out except recognition of the obvious. It cannot be squashed, fought to death, protested into oblivion – no action taken from within the circle will bring it down. Taking sides will always set into motion some form of opposition, thereby granting the quandary a life of its own. One last climactic time, this time involving all humanity, history seems destined to repeat. Afterwards, the survivors will have no choice but to address the fundamental question, using logic to proceed on a sustainable path of evolution with each other and all other life – with cooperation, compassion and honesty.