"A Duty to Know"
By Cognitive Dissonance
"Conversations Mrs. Cog and I have often revolve around awareness and knowing verses ignorance and belief. These discussions usually boil down to whether or not there is a personal responsibility to know. Or, at a minimum, a responsibility to question what we believe/disbelieve or are told to believe/disbelieve.
The dialogue often stalls when we confront a fundamental question; should we be held responsible to know what we do not know. If it never occurs to us to ask, if someone never informs us of what we don’t know, why would we even question what is commonly accepted as known?
Setting aside for now the question of what it is we are supposed to know in order to fulfill our duty, let’s tackle the first part first and examine what it might mean when ‘duty’ is invoked. We suspect the vast majority will think duty implies a responsibility or obligation to an external authority, meaning someone other than our self, since we rarely consider ourselves to be an authority we must honor, respect and obey.
This mind meme, by the way, is a product of the Empire state of mind, one which demands total adherence to the belief only the central state can be the bastion of truth, justice and knowledge, thereby delegitimizing the self, the individual, in deference to the whole. Thankfully the Empire is administered by a few wise and enlightened souls for the benefit of all; therefore this solemn trust is never abused.
A strict constitutionalist might insist each and every citizen has a duty to not only understand the mechanics of a Representative Republic (the USA has never been and is not now a Democracy) but must actively participate in its administration if “We the People” wish to remain represented in the halls of power as opposed to merely (mis)counted, then dismissed.
But the cognitively captured Imperial supporter might maintain we are duty bound to follow the letter of the law, regardless how discriminatory, vindictive and punitive it might be, and do as we are told. The greater good benefits the most from a compliant and cooperative population who do as they are told and not as they wish. But the dirty little secret is capitalism and all the other ‘isms’ require compliant workers and mindless war to justify their existence and keep their populations in line and at bay. Most wars are a matter of choice, and more often than not leadership chooses war over peace.
So, do we have a duty to a leadership (elected or not) whose best interest, meaning its best chance to remain in power, is to pursue heightened conflict if not outright war? Or for that matter, leaders who reward their cronies with distributions from the public purse and then extract those funds from us at the (implied) point of a gun. Are they truly worthy of our sense of duty?
I could go on, but I suspect you get my drift. The art of politics is to convince “We the People” the affairs of the rich and powerful are permanently entangled with our own pressing concerns, thereby compelling our consent to their policies. While the specific methods used are adapted to the precise conditions at the moment, it all boils down to liberal applications of fear, as in False Evidence Appearing Real.
This does not mean ‘duty’ to family, friends and community should be placed in the same category as the Imperial Empire. Clearly the smaller and closer the group or individual is to us, the greater the sense of obligation we might feel. But where do we draw the line and for what reason? The answer to this question and more can and will be found within each individual, within our self, and most certainly not within the Empire.
Of course, the vast majority of people will completely ignore any sense of duty to their self. After all, of what importance is the self when considering such mighty entities as national leadership and the nation itself?
A nation is just a meme, a make believe entity, a political thought product whose borders and culture are supposedly created and defended by its inhabitants. In practice, the boundaries are usually fashioned by force of Imperial will, often during the aftermath of war when the native populations are weakest and unable to object, and not by natural choice aka free will.
Please understand when I speak of Empire I’m not discussing a supreme leader issuing orders which are then dutifully carried out by subservient minions. Regardless of the form of government, the person presented as top dog is little more than a figurehead. The king serves at the pleasure of the court, and the court consists of the nation’s financial, political and military elite who are constantly fighting and jostling for power and position. If the king resists the court, he or she will eventually be replaced. To believe otherwise is to believe in popular fiction presented as fact.
The true power of Empire springs from tens of thousands of individuals and entities all climbing (or declining) the ladder of wealth, power and privilege. Each person’s use of this ladder supports every other person’s use of the ladder. Therefore it’s in the interest of each individual to consciously and deliberately support the overall power structure of Empire in order to preserve and expand their own use of Empire for personal gain.
The more corrupt the system the better, for corruption more fully enables leveraging portions of the Empire for personal gain. As each social class either obscenely profits from the Empire, goes along to get along or desperately scrapes a living from the crumbs of Empire, all demand more from the Empire (particularly when they feel denied their fair share, however large or meager that might be) thereby supporting the very structure which is slowly bleeding the vast majority dry.
Everyone to some extent or another is tuned to radio station WII-FM aka what’s in it for me. Like mice on an exercise wheel, we participate because we look nowhere else for an alternative. The Empire conditions us to believe we can have our cake and eat it too, just as long as we dance to the tune and keep that exercise wheel moving along.
Naturally a problem arises when there are no additional teats on the cash cow with which to feed the voracious appetite of the powerful elite. When faced with the choice of reducing their feeding to keep the teaming masses (somewhat) sated or continue their gorging and let the peons eat cake, the result is a foregone conclusion.
On every level and within all socioeconomic classes, personal interest supersedes the greater good when someone else is paying the bill. And the Empire falsely promises the bill will always be paid by someone else, claiming access to unlimited resources in a finite world.
And for a while it all seems to work, for Empire doesn’t initially eat its own. Instead it seeks nutrition outside its ever expanding reach, making the illusion of Empire appear self evident and successful. But something eventually has to give, since this viral madness cannot persist. The Empire will never admit to this irrefutable fact, for to do so will undermine its very existence. When you live off the con, the only thing keeping it afloat is confidence in the con.
This is why American middle class incomes have stagnated for the last two decades when adjusted for the official inflation rate. And declined precipitously when a more realistic (meaning higher) inflation rate is considered.
It also explains why incomes of the top 1% have increased exponentially over the same period of time. And why the Empire has increasingly become an Orwellian police state. Soon enough, the implied use of force to compel compliance will become a loaded gun shoved directly into our face.
Those who cannot foresee this outcome simply aren’t looking. The evidence is overwhelming for those who wish to honestly seek answers. Most don’t look out of fear of what they will discover. After all, you can’t find what you aren’t looking for, thereby keeping the boogieman safely under the bed.
Why is it so much of our daily activity revolves around feeding, clothing, working and pleasuring our self, all activities that profit the owner class, yet we think so rarely about a duty to our self other than in entirely materialistic ways? The answer is simple; this is how Empire has conditioned us to think, therefore be, since our only purpose in life is to feed Empire first and our self a distant second.
How much of our allotted 24 hours each day is devoted to nurturing our minds and spirits, to expanding and exploring an understanding of our self and our surroundings, of recognizing the duty to our self to further the development of our self?
When was the last time we honestly even considered the need to do so? Incredibly, a sense of duty to our self is less than our sense of duty to any and all external authorities. The reasons for this state of mind are vast and varied and will be examined in more detail at another time.
So What Is There to Know? Now that we have briefly and incompletely reflected upon our duty, what exactly is it we should know? Actually that’s a trick question, because the real question is, what is it we don’t know? In a word…everything!
To think we know something strongly implies we have acquired a specific tidbit of knowledge and are finished with that portion of our life lesson. Now we can move forward, building upon what we recently learned. However, much of what we think we know is based upon the information and prior learning used at the moment an authority declares we know. And whom might that authority be beholden to and trained by?
This does not mean we actually know something, only that we think we know something. While our ego may forcefully declare we will reassess what we know once new information presents, in practice this is rarely (if ever) the case. Practically speaking, seldom do we reassess much of anything unless forced to do so.
This is why significant change is so painful. We tend to ignore or rationalize away multiple pieces of contrary information until suddenly reality can no longer be ignored. Or more accurately, the consequences of denying reality can no longer be ignored. Instead of dealing with the natural ebb and flow of the tide of knowledge in real time and in small quantities, we are confronted with the occasional, but devastating, tsunami of information contrary to our basic belief system.
Can you say existential crisis?
Sadly, instead of using this crisis to grow and expand our sense of self within the collective mind, more often than not we desperately dig deeper holes to bury our heads. Denial comes in many forms and ugly manifestations, escapism readily promoted by the Imperial hive mind.
The Empire demands we leave the critical thinking to others and simply consume more of what will be force fed if we do not willingly comply. It doesn’t matter if our thinking comes via CNN or FOX, just as long as we drink from the cup. Daddy, tell me another lie so I can believe it is the truth. Always remember, “We the People” are the most valuable, meaning profitable, product manufactured by the Empire. The master won’t let his slaves just walk away.
When Empire no longer produces enough milk and honey for all, we are presented with an either/or choice. Either enjoy our rapidly shrinking carrot or face the beating stick. The authorities prefer we manage ourselves, for willing compliance is much more profitable. But it will force the issue if need be. So just eat your peas, dammit.
Empire is not a thing or an entity as much as a mental construct, a collective state of mind, as solid or weak as it supporting structure and underpinnings. Therefore the one fundamental requirement for Empire to succeed (or at least to die slowly) is rigid thinking and hierarchical chains of compliant thought.
Confronted with nothing but Hobson’s choices, assigned roles and either/or thinking, soon we are conditioned to believe that’s just how the world works and there’s no other way to live. And here’s the kicker; there is just enough carrot offered for us to believe the stick can be tolerated, if not overcome. Fairy tales and other magical thinking are greatly encouraged, if only to get us through another work day, work week, work year.
It’s simple, really. We are presented with false life choice which on the surface appear to be freedom of choice, but are actually just numerous small pens scattered inside a very large securely fenced corral. We are our own cognitive keepers, for the few could never police the many without the majority’s consent. All the material structures of Empire are simply physical manifestations created and maintained by a uniform and compliant collective state of mind.
The more rigid and in-sync the minds are, the greater the strength and reach of the Empire. However, a little critical thinking applied at this juncture reveals the Empire’s Achilles Heel. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Or in this case, rigid thinking and a compliant collective mind contains the seeds of its own destruction.
Over time the pens become increasingly smaller and sparse, offering meager gruel for the majority. This is the inevitable consequence of unrestrained corruption squandering the captured minds and bodies long before they can be led to a profitable slaughter.
Corrosive conditions take their toll as more and more contained minds begin to break from their conditioning and seek an alternative to Empire. Nothing clears the mind quite like desperate circumstances and an empty belly. Even then, most will lie back and wither away, helpless in their conditioned impotence. The exponential increase in obesity and SSRI usage in the western world are perfect examples of imprisoned minds wasting away.
Since the very foundation of Empire consists of a hive mind creating a self fulfilling and self perpetuating meme of superiority and ‘manifest destiny’, one’s very own survival depends upon knowing and understanding how and why the Empire operates, if only to withdraw and survive.
This is the fundamental basis for our duty to know.
The Pied Piper aka the Mainstream Media: There is far more required of us than mere knowing, since the Empire assures us all we need to know is already known. Anything new will be communicated to us via our superiors (aka leadership) and the Empire’s mouthpiece, the mainstream media (MSM). So don’t you worry your pretty little head about various silliness you might hear on unauthorized fake news sites.
The modus operandi of Empire is to deceive, obfuscate, co-opt, control and, if necessary, kill. Once weknow this for the unimpeachable truth it is, to assume ANYTHING we have been told, taught or believe is true or factual stretches credulity to its limits.
The secret to an effective lie is to salt falsehoods within a believable truth while using prior believed and accepted lies and half truths to support the new concoction. As incredible as this may sound, truth is often not believable due to prior information manipulation and distortion. The goal of Empire is to control what is believed and disbelieved, therefore one could be presented with an absolute truth and reject it outright as a lie. It occurs all the time and you never know it happened.
This is the seductive and oppressive underlying basis for Imperial corruption. Its lies are supremely effective because we lie to ourselves. A confidence game works because the conned are compliant and willing to believe the lie. The con man leverages the marks’ own greed and dishonesty against them to extort resources from the willing ‘victim’.
By the time we reach our twenties, we are filled to the brim with what we believe are basic facts about the country and culture we live in, as well as our place in the world. The rest of our lives are spent adding to, reordering and slightly altering bite sized factoids far out on the periphery.
Our core beliefs remain essentially unchanged regardless of the contrary information we may later uncover or stumble across. An exception to this dynamic is the so-called mid-life crisis, where some may begin to question the direction and purpose of their lives. Most successfully shake off the doubt though and rejoin the ranks of the captured.
On the surface it appears the American culture is vibrant and dynamic, constantly moving and adjusting to social mood and human creativity. But in fact, much of modern day western (and increasingly eastern) culture is dominated by carefully crafted memes designed to reinforce prior conditioned beliefs while perpetuating the status quo.
While this is a somewhat common feature among all cultures past and present, it inhibits change in the individual, particularly radical and rapid change. It takes courage to break from the herd and walk a contrary path, for the status quo impedes such behavior with public shunning and the withdrawal of resources more freely shared with those who willingly comply.
It doesn’t take much to influence ‘our’ culture, especially when nefarious entities control the mouthpiece of the culture, that of the mainstream media. Essentially we have devolved into a multimedia mess of instant gratification, affirmation seeking and virtue signaling.
It’s all about me, myself and I.
Just visit the office water cooler, local coffee shop or mass market internet website and take note of the subject of discussion at any moment in time. Odds are great it’s either a creation of media infotainment/entertainment (broadcast TV, cable, movie,YouTube, Facebook, corporate news/propaganda etc) or some type of opinionated ‘news’ massaged and delivered by our corporate overlords to every screen in the home and office.
For the vast majority of us, what we ‘know’ is what we are told. Critical thinking need not apply and is actively discouraged. Our job is to consume, not to think. Most of what we think we know is actually loosely scripted memes, carefully crafted bread crumbs laid out to seduce the mindless millions. We are strongly encouraged to believe we came to our own independent conclusion, regardless of our particular polarization, based upon select information fed to us through our glowing screens. Or as my mother the former computer programmer was prone to say; garbage in, garbage out.
Anyone who claims otherwise is either in denial of the overwhelming influence the MSM has upon our culture (and therefore us) or is an apologist/supporter for the MSM and the Empire. Or, they still believe the corporate news and entertainment media is free of any and all external influence and remains an independent entity, the so-called Fourth Estate.
It always amazes me when people point to propaganda in foreign countries, claiming it to be obvious and predatory. Yet at the same time they believe “We the People” are somehow free of such manipulation. Or at least they (alone) are free thinkers since attempted manipulation is easily discerned, especially when benevolent ‘authorities’ and various other (corporate) media mouthpieces helpfully declare it all to be ‘fake news’.
History informs us those in power, including their sycophants, puppets and apologists who piously declare something to be heretical, are often themselves hypocritical beyond belief and are deliberately attempting to deceive. Empires lie often and, at least initially, lie well. Early on the lies are intended to convince, later during the decline they are spoken solely to give us emotional permission to continue to believe.
Initially when Empire is young and still gathering momentum, the allure of a ‘better’ life is seductive and everyone clamors to comply. In the minds of the many, it’s a sure bet to join ranks with the Empire. But as Empire ages and self interest and corruption become institutionalized, it begins to eat its own to feed the elite greed. It doesn’t matter the form of government Empire chooses to masquerade as, it always works out the same in the end.
Through initially skillful, then increasingly blunt, use of the carrot and the stick, the constant pressure to comply is quite frankly extremely difficult to resist (especially alone) and precisely the reason one must disengage and withdraw to the best of our ability. The Empire is expert at destroying those who resist, but is clueless and impotent when confronted with disengagement and (even partial) withdrawal.
Mountains Out Of Molehills: Sometimes we make mountains out of mole hills in order to fabricate reasons not to do something we believe will be difficult or near impossible. Often these beliefs have been conditioned into us from birth (i.e. you can’t fight city hall) and are patently false. While there is no doubt the Empire is no mole hill, but a mountain in its own right, withdrawal, even partial, is accomplished in steps. As the old saying goes, you eat an elephant one bite at a time.
The first step is cognitive and spiritual in nature and requires we recognize (cognitive) and then honor (spiritual) our duty to know. First we must wake up if we are ever to break out. The most important aspect of this is to realize it’s a process and not an event. We wake up in stages and build upon the momentum. We learn from learning about our self, particularly how and why we have been conditioned and why we have capitulated in the past.
This is not about them, those or they, other than in understanding how everyone else is ensnared in the tentacles of Empire and a component part of the machine. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what anyone else does. All that matters is what we do or do not do.
We have a duty to know, first to know our self, then to know what is really happening around us. We have a duty to question, to be curious, to be relentlessly inquisitive and to ask uncomfortable questions of our self and of others, especially others who claim authority over us. We are duty bound not to fall for the second and third set of traps waiting to ensnare those looking for an easy way out.
Always remember the easiest way for Empire to prevent or subvert escape is to control the opposition, including alternative media. As mainstream media continues to lose credibility among even the least interested, alternative media will be increasingly suppressed and infiltrated.
Empire does not need to control everything contrary to Empire in order to be effective. It simply needs to sow enough doubt and confusion in the opposition ranks to create infighting and strife. Those on the fence will return to the perceived order of Empire while those committed to withdraw and/or resist will be engulfed in chaos and confusion.
What Empire cannot stop it will attempt to co-opt. To naively grasp at the first or second alternative or unconventional explanation that fits our recently shifted worldview simply because it is contrary is foolish and lazy. The loudest voices promising one size fits all explanations are sometimes carefully laid bait designed to ensnare the unwary. The Empire cares little what you actually believe so long as you remain productively within the Empire’s state of influence.
We tend to be emotionally angry, hurt and even frightened when we begin to learn that much of what we have been told is a lie. The tendency is to actively seek emotional balms and soothing reassurance it was OK to leave the comforting confines of our cognitive pens. Scapegoats, whipping boys and red herrings are scattered along the road by various minions of Empire for our emotional gratification and intellectual distraction.
These totems are brilliantly designed lightening rods strategically placed to absorb our emotional outrage and to placate our lingering fear and apprehension. Without a better understanding of our self and our emotional and intellectual vulnerabilities, the deeper down the rabbit hole we venture, the more likely we are to return to the same whipping post to beat the dead horse once again. Eventually, emotionally fatigued to the point of defeatism and surrender, either we remain in a fixed orbit around this black hole of spiritual emptiness or we slink back into our pen and lock the door behind us, never again to venture out.
The knowing we seek will NOT come neatly packaged with a bow attached, regardless of who or what serves it up. It is not just present day knowledge that has been manipulated and distorted, for history has been used and abused for eons in order to control populations. History is written (and re-written) by the winners to suit its purpose. It rarely, if ever, actually depicts factual historical events.
Knowing this immutable fact, possibly the only fact we will ever know for certain, the place to begin is to explore within, to understand our own weaknesses and distorted motivations. If we cannot be honest with our self, we cannot and will not ever recognize truth even if we were to stumble over it. The journey begins within.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming already in progress."