November 2008 – It’s finally time for change. Barack Obama is elected President of the United States and African Americans everywhere shed a tear of joy. It’s a story worthy of a Hollywood movie production, if only it was not already fabricated. The script is beginning to unravel now and the story is becoming a little too familiar. The question now is: How long are we going to keep sitting in the theatre?
September 2013 – U.S. President Obama addresses the situation in Syria: “Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria, in the worst chemical attack of the 21st century.” A sales pitch for yet another war. This time from the Nobel Peace Prize winner. This time it will be a harder sell, as the American people are losing faith in their once beloved President and the leadership of their country, and with good reason.
Before Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, there was the case made for the Iraq War. The term WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) was hammered into the public psyche before the U.S. began the strike. Former President Bush Jr., along with the help of the media, created and perpetuated the narrative of the crazy dictator (Saddam Hussein) who must be stopped for the safety of the world. Of course, there never were any WMDs… whoops!
Saddam Hussein has hardly been the only villain to fear. Scores have come and gone: the bearded men who hang out in caves and hate freedom, the ones who light their shoes on fire and the ones who make really poor quality videos to threaten America. The media is all too eager to tell us about these men who threaten our freedom and safety. Sufficiently scared, we turn to our leaders to take care of the scary monsters that are lurking everywhere. Well, not everyone.
“Aren’t you just so sick of the lies?!” YouTuber Kafka Winston responds to Obama’s pitch to attack Syria. Unlike Obama’s starched speech, Kafka’s delivery is raw and captivating. She’s on the pulse of a growing legion of American citizens who are just not buying the script anymore. Kafka points out the hypocrisy of the situation—there are allegations that the U.S. has used chemical weapons themselves in past wars. She ends her rant by asking: “Are we really children?”
A vivid make-believe life is a privilege that all children should be granted. There’s a reason, however, that children can believe in Santa Claus for only so long. The danger here is that we can become open to manipulation if we cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality. Children ask questions, often excessively, and eventually through their intuitiveness they become harder to fool. Children, through this natural curiosity also gain the knowledge to function independently.
What is it then that has led to an adult culture where asking certain questions deems you a “conspiracy theorist” or a “nut job?”
Instead of being critical thinkers we’re encouraged to be fans. Instead of critiquing ideas we’re encouraged to critique the image of politicians. Political conventions now resemble rock shows and politicians look more like celebrities. It’s a spectacle that can only continue to exist if we buy into its grand illusion.
There will always be a bobblehead to tell us that things are OK, so long as we want one. This comfort comes at a price though: we might find ourselves in a system that’s closing in on personal freedoms and tracking our every move. Like a paranoid parent, they secretly fear the day we no longer need them. This battle may be a test of the human spirit. A test that boils down to each individual, in the decision to stay captive to the illusion, or find the bravery to realize our own freedom.
On September 19, 20 and 21 join the Global Care Room for a virtual World Peace Day—invite as many friends as you can, gather with others from all around the world and let’s synchronize our peace day efforts to the vision of increasing love and peace for all humankind.
image: Navid Baraty (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND)