Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The muting or dumbing down of America

I would say that the primary reasons behind the silencing of people is ego. The ones doing the dumbing down want to do the talking and thinking, so they will quite ruthlessly shut all the people up around them. Probably the most chilling dumbing down of vast numbers of people happened in China under the Communist dictator Mao who in retrospect you can only think of as a mad egomaniac who destroyed so much just to get mindless enforced homage from his subjects. Books were burned. People could only read a book with the sayings of Mao in it. They had to talk Mao, think Mao.
In our country we were not quite so bad, but we do have a lot of systems in place that are designed to mute the people with the result of profit for a few. People sit for hours in front of TV sets, mute, watching the few who control that world do their thing which is in general a bunch of sitcoms broken up by hundreds of commercials to sell products to what was once a mighty consumer driven society. But of course the dumbing down of the people has caused the consumer society to show immense cracks of instability, and those who profit from consumerism tremble.
Kids drop out of school because they can't stand being forced into silence while teachers mumble boring things at them they do not listen to and find irrelevant to their lives.
It is just not natural for young people to remain silent not because they want to but because they are forced to with the idea that a boring teacher droning away is good for them, and if they listen they will grow up and be able to get a good job and earn lots of money. Nobody asks why when kids get bored with education and act up in school years before they drop out.
It's kind of like when I used to live in Utah where the Mormon Church was so unnaturally dominant and I would go to church and think these teachings are supposed to get me to heaven? These people are out of their minds. As a child I would be contending with things like my dad's alcoholism, my parents' horrible violent fights, being molested, but yet I could not talk about any of these things in a church that was supposed to get me to heaven. I had to remain mute. And I would say that the main reason was because the founder of the Mormon Church was also an egomaniac who wanted people to listen to him and to regard him as a direct representative of God himself with the authority given to him by angels to receive visions. He soon tried to shut his followers up who tried to have visions of their own, or indeed talked about anything that didn't come out of his revelations. The only way they were going to get anywhere he convinced them was to worship his revelations and take them to the world, so this is what is still happening today. He caused people to doubt their own importance to the extent that they preached his teachings without protest.
Churches have a terrible time dealing with human problems because they are all somewhat in the grip of flawed thinkers like Joseph Smith still being given importance. If the teachings are boring and irrelevant to the worst problems in the community, the church can't shake them off for centuries sometimes so they can get more up to date. For who is going to lead the way? The church systems often become so powerful in their repressive efforts that trying to rebel is so costly many won't do it.
As I was growing up, God help anybody who disagreed with church doctrine and questioned and criticized church thinking. My grandfather and dad were both skeptics, but my dad acted like he was scared for us girls to question the teachings of the church. He had been raised with a very religious mother and it made him very uneasy when any of us girls questioned policy. He thought it was all right for him to do it but he wanted us to follow in the footsteps of his sisters, and he became quite a dictator trying to force us to do it. He told me I had to become a school teacher like them if he was going to pay for my college. A secretary was the only other acceptable profession. He had of course fallen into alcoholism as so many young Mormon males do when they rebel, so he was struggling with the demons of drink all the time, trying to stay out of jail, alive, and make progress.
I looked at what he was doing and vowed never to become addicted to alcohol or drugs as that would be the worst thing I could do not to be listened to. But my constant struggle was in trying to keep from being 'dumbed down,' that is turned into a mute who would not dare say anything in my repressive society.
Hence my giant rebellion at the University of Utah in my senior year. I bided my time until then. I thought it is now or never. I have got to come out of this university as a thinking person, or I will never do it. I have got to protest against all this dumbing down in classes that goes on. I thought these Mormon students have already been silenced in church and they are so used to it they are just mouthing back to the teacher what they want to hear. Then they will go out in the communities and do what they are expected to do which is make no waves nor reach any minds either. In other words nothing exciting was going on in the way of thinking at that university because so many of the young would not say what they thought. They had been too well trained to stay mute. They were not allowing rebellious thoughts to surface because they had been so well taught that was wrong.
I decided toward the end of my junior year that I would start to fight this simply by saying what I thought in all my classes no matter what it was. I would regard my thinking as more important than the boring thing I was supposed to mouth back to the teacher. I was even shocked myself when putting this revolutionary idea into practice started to stir up the university. On a small scale of course, but I could see that I would soon be in so much trouble I would be asked to leave. There was one awful boring teacher of education who really got upset. Instead of frantically taking notes I could repeat back on tests, I would just sit and look at her to take in what she had to say. It was not worth writing down and repeating back. I wrote what I thought on the tests. Sometimes I would get an A and sometimes she would give me an F. She finally got so agitated she asked me to stay after class and she told me that I was causing her not to be able to teach with my behavior. She offered to pass me in the class with a good grade if I would just stay away! Amazing!
I said no, you don't have to do that, I am in so much trouble in all my classes I will soon be leaving the University anyway. The main thing that was worrying me at the moment was what my dad was going to say when I dropped out of college without my degree. I thought he would be tempted to take a horse whip to me and would not get over it for years.
Only you all know what happened before I could drop out. The head of my department having no doubt gotten some reports about my behavior in classes and experienced some of it in the classes I took from him asked me if I would not visit the school psychiatrist before presumably dropping out.
Well, I did not know that psychiatrists were extremely dangerous people. Within two minutes he recognized me as a raging nut case and arranged for me to be put under guard and transported to a locked facility where I would be duly electric shocked. Doesn't this sound a little bit like Russia or China, not America? That is what I thought at the time.
But I would say the reason psychiatrists had become dangerous people was because they were allowed to shock people against their will. Nobody had bothered to fight for the rights of mental patients not to have shock therapy if they did not want it. The abuse of human rights this policy leads to can be imagined if you think about it. There is not much difference between this kind of incarceration and incarceration in any regime where people have lost their rights. Once inside doctors can then use frightening torture to subdue and frighten people into 'sane' behavior. That is how electric shock therapy works no matter what doctors say it does. Intimidation and fear is what it accomplishes. I was indignant. I protested, but nobody listened to me.
So by the time my father realized I was on my way to dropping out of college, I had nearly died from my chronic fatigue malady kicking in. Years of stress had rendered me too fragile to be abducted and threatened let alone electric shocked. I did not let the enemy my father had become know how weak I was because he was so beside himself. This was the first full scale rebellion one of his daughters had ever staged. He just could not believe it. He could see however the way I would lapse into a silence when he verbally abused me that all was not well. This became a test of how much he did care for me. Was he willing to watch me die from his abuse? Since I was not going to admit I was wrong. Well, no, so he backed off a little and decided to let me live, dropout or not. My dad never believed in corporal punishment, so he had only slapped me once in my life. Another time he knocked me down in the cattle corral. That was it.
Since I did not drink as he did my exit from the University was spectacular. He had only been able to go home in disgrace from too much partying. Mine was a thinking departure which I had been determined to keep under my control at all times.
The psychiatrists responsible for my incarceration forced me to sign a paper saying I had volunteered to go into the mental ward. I figured that would be easy to disprove if I ever needed to. At that moment I needed desperately to go home and recover my strength to fight again.
Ever since then I have been fighting to say what I think and I must say I have been silenced many many times. Because that is what a repressive society does. We always have to forge our escapes from repression. We always have egomaniacs among us who want to do all the thinking while silencing everyone else without a qualm.
Women have traditionally been cast into the roles of the cheerleaders for men controlling the world. Men hate to recognize women as thinkers because that just means more competition.
I decided to become a playwright so I could do the thinking, but there are very few women playwrights who succeed. This is a man's world. In the world of novels women have made greater strides. I am very proud of all the women novelists of history who have written immortal works like Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Virginia Woolf, and others. But getting novels published about knotty issues is still incredibly difficult. I still write about the muting of women and the struggle they have to get respect from men.
I had to fight my dad for years after that enforced incarceration. He could not believe that an abusive drunk could cripple his kids, or he didn't want to. My problems with serious chronic fatigue began in childhood with the problems he brought to the family with his constant bouts of drunkenness and terrible fights with my mother. I saw him threaten to kill people when he was drunk, hold a butcher knife to my mother's throat. I absolutely dreaded his drunkenness, but it took several near death experiences for him to quit. I say that his determination to drink was rooted in a superiority complex that excused all his own flaws. I did not feel my dad thought the well being of a wife or children worth depriving himself of his partying. His contempt for women was his undoing for years.
When your physical strength is gone as mine was in the worst of times, I just had my will to keep me going. As crippled as I was I was not going to become very successful, but my will could still remain indomitable. We have so many women murdered in this country and some of them fought their attackers to their last breath. These women did not die in defeat because their spirits live on, seeking justice, urging other women to fight for their rights. I often feel the spirits of murdered women around me, telling me that as long as I am alive to keep fighting. The only way that women will get equality is by fighting for it.

2 comments: said...

When Gerry came home from the mental hospital, she wouldn't talk.
That was so alarming to me as she had been the sister that told us stories every night, for years. She had been gone from the house to school for eight years but came home each summer, worked in the store, visited with everyone. She was the talker of the family. Now she wouldn't talk. I was unstrung.
I decided to make her talk, so I yelled at her, shook her as hard as I could, screaming "Talk. You talk!" I begged with her to just say one word and I would quit. She didn't. I wrestled her to the floor yelling at her to talk. She started laughing. That made me so mad as I was very upset. She still wouldn't talk. Finally, exhausted, I went to bed. I thought I wouldn't talk to HER.
Amazingly, she started talking again after a day or so. She told me later, she was almost ready to talk when I quit! Huh!

Missie said...

Have a good hump day!


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