Skip to main content

Why You Can't Sleep at Night

George Monbiot, the columnist and blogger, revealed that he went to a boarding school where boys of well-to-do families go.  This gave him insight into how ruling elites think. The purpose we might think is to give their children the kind of education that will make them leaders. We hope they might turn out like Ghandi or Bishop Tutu, but a few decades earlier "the role of such schools was clear: they broke boys’ attachment to their families and re-attached them to the institutions – the colonial service, the government, the armed forces – through which the British ruling class projected its power. Every year they released into the world a cadre of kamikazes, young men fanatically devoted to their caste and culture." 

I believe this is how all institutions operate - to create citizens to defend their corporate mothers.  Real mothers and fathers also raise their children to be successful in the world in which they were raised, with the hope of upward mobility. 

Now, however, we see upward mobility as unlikely.  In fact, rather than think about how to raise our children in a world that looks brutish and bleak, we seek escape through entertainment and shopping. You can hardly blame us if we feel we have no power to change our world.

We (that body of anonymous humanity) know we are not Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, Jr.,  or even Naomi Klein.  We are just trying to make ends meet, to be decent. We have not been trained to believe we have something to offer the world, never mind something special.  And those who might exhibit some charismatic or visionary features we tend to be suspicious of. We have been programmed through the entertainments we consume, to believe that people who seek power are self-aggrandizing or psychopathic. 

Even the Occupy and Idle No More movements, from a distant media filtered view, reveal a hostility towards those in power, the elite.  Even those of us who dip our toes into the ocean of alternative news and documentaries will feel that repulsion towards those invisible officers of control. While there are many examples of its abuse, we eschew responsible power at our peril. 

The corporate media with its focus on the big stories, make every movement, effort, discipline or courage appear futile.  The lens zooms to the end before the story begins. Any little good news story ends with defeat not because every effort is defeated but small successes are not sensational enough to be reported. 


Dr. Warren Bell, in a response to hearings on the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, points out a threat not just to the environment but the health of our species.  Thankfully his insight and wisdom was reported by Linda Solomon in The Vancouver Observer.

He observed, while still in medical school,  that many of the most important influences on a person's health derive not just from medicine or patient choices but from broad trends in the community – from the neighbourhood to the planetary environment.

The systems that have led to the pipeline project, which he calls "structural pathology", has caused some of his younger patients to suffer anxiety, fearing the future for their children.

When the majority of people feel powerless, overwhelmed by the structural violence designed and perpetrated by institutions they can't trust, civil society breaks down.  First by individual acts of terror, then war between factions, and war between nations or even continents. 

While the ruling class will have already found an "enemy", the future for citizens looks bleaker  and we are still left so anxious and uprooted we are unable to plan, to love and to nurture what is good. In the meantime, those bright boarding school boys, carefully trained in guiding the masses, are planning the future for us.

These pathological systems need to be intervened by the power of an educated and activated citizenry.  Dr. Bell has provided four imperatives to change the power systems without killing anyone. You will find them at the end of this article: Doctor describes Harper government "pathology" at Kelowna JRP

You may or may not agree with this prescription, but if you find a civil way to engage with the system, you will at least learn that you do have the power to make changes without using hate or violence.  We can learn that the power we use will be the power our future will be built on.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

About Humanity

"A chosen people is the opposite of a master race, first, because it is not a race but a covenant; second because it exists to serve God, not to master others. A master race worships itself, a chosen people worships something beyond itself. A master race believes it has rights; a chosen people knows only that it has responsibilities." Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Not in God's Name, Schocken, New York. 2015.

As someone who does not identify as a chosen people or part of a master race, I ruminate about how to respond to the world, particularly that part of the world I cannot endorse. So I am comforted by the people who have taken on ministry and who feel responsible enough to care for community.

How do I act on a feeling of responsibility without assuming that I know what other people should do, or what we should do? It's very easy to slip into a political preaching that suggests I know, or that my being a good example means that others should follow it. Or worse yet, create…

Albert Camus: Our task

Creating Chaos

A very important article in The Guardian analyses the rise of hyper-masculinity and the phenomenon of Angry White Men.  "Sociologist Michael Kimmel is one of the world’s foremost experts on the phenomenon. - His recent research has looked at topics including spree killers (who are overwhelmingly male and white), as well as the relationship between masculinity and political extremism."

In the article there is a report on a study on testosterone where 5 monkeys are observed. The one who rises to the top beats up number 2 and number 2 beats up number 3 - and so it goes down to number 5. 

"So the experiment is: he takes monkey three out of the cage and he shoots him up with testosterone, off the scale, and puts him back in. What do you think happens? When I tell this story my students always guess that he immediately becomes number-one monkey. But that’s not true. What happens is that when he goes back in the cage he still avoids monkeys number one and two – but he beats the …