In his 1925 autobiography, Mein Kampf, Hitler coins the term “the big lie,” which refers to a form of propaganda that pivots on telling a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe anyone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” A “certain force of credibility” runs through this big lie so people will find it easy to accept. Of course, in accusing an entire people of this falsehood, he was employing the very technique that he was describing, and would continue to do so toward the most monstrous ends.
But don’t think for a moment that any of us are safe from the machinery of “the big lie” today. This enduring, insidious force is very much alive, woven into the very roots of our society.
In our times, governments and corporations still heavily employ “the big lie” psychology with enormous success, their minions none the wiser. In fact, just about all the foundational aspects of our culture can be traced back to one of their big lies: they have convinced us of what to consume, what to put on and in our bodies, what to expect of our health, and what to expect out of life. We accept this way of life because we believe it is correct and created for our highest good, or at least the best that we can expect, given humankind’s extensive shortcomings and iniquitous wiring (which we also accept).
The biggest lie is that it’s all okay—that while our culture may not be perfect, it is the best way of life imaginable thus far, and if we just keep following this trajectory, we’ll eventually make things even better. That is THE BIGGEST LIE!
One BIG TRUTH is that we are consuming our planet at warp speed and we are very close to the point (if we’re not already there) where we cannot save it. While everyone now agrees that change is necessary, few people seem to grasp just how dire the situation is, certainly not enough to reject the entrenched norms. No sane organism devastates the organism that feeds and supports it. Consider what cancer and autoimmune diseases are: cells that attack the healthy cells and tissue (or blood, bone, lymph) of the body.
Worse still, we have bought the diversion that merely recycling and buying more environmentally conscious products and vehicles will offset this devastation in a meaningful way. We should be as conscious as we can, yes, and obviously we should reduce, recycle, and reuse. Any awake, thinking person can figure that out!
Here’s what really has to happen: we must stop consuming products that are produced by large corporations and made from commonly raised animals and sea life. This is the only way to halt the deadly march of corporations who wreak destruction on us all while reaping the riches of the big lie! It is no exaggeration to say that they, along with everyone who purchases their products, are raping the planet, snuffing out life and deranging the biomass of the animals they raise. Clearly, this should not only be illegal, but there should be some global policy against it. There are laws, yes, but they don’t apply to those who can pay others to look the other way.
Here’s the thing: these factions can only keep up this nonsense so long as people keep buying what they are selling. Consumers need to stop buying their products and thereby put them out of business. It’s really that easy. Yes, jobs would be lost—many jobs—but the beauty of creative destruction is that something better will spring up in its place for these workers. Keeping people employed is not a good enough reason to perpetuate the carnal consumption of our precious resources. Convenience is not a good enough reason. Fear of change is not a good enough reason. Tell me one reason that is good enough—I surely cannot think of one! Yet I can think of countless reasons to support changing our way of life!
We have been brainwashed into wanting and craving and thinking we need all sorts of rubbish as we suffocate our bodies and spirits and kill off the life around us. In this way, we continually fatten these corporations, which couldn’t care less about the future of our planet—they care only about the here and now, plundering more resources for money and power. And we sit around and let them do it! Just as generations before us sat around and watched the genocide of indigenous cultures as colonialists wiped them out in the name of expansion, discovery, and exploration. Just as we sit around and wear pink ribbons and hold social functions to raise money for childhood diseases instead of seeing that our way of life is the cause of all those cancers, emotional imbalances, learning disabilities, and so on. We just nod along to the hypnotic cadence of the news reporters’ iambic pentameter as they dish up the gobbledygook.
I’m just sick of it. And frankly, I’m tired of being polite about it. What’s the point of being polite now? Polite to whom, and at whose expense? What about being polite to the life of our planet, the ecosystems, the animals being pushed out of their habitats, or to our own sick bodies and spirits? I am guilty of imposing some of these expected limitations on my own children, who are so beautifully instinctual; in a world restrained by social disciplines, I’m the first to admit what a slave I’ve been to their rules. I try to remind myself that my children need to know both the world’s ways and the alternative ways of living. I tell myself that this is how to arm them with the knowledge and experience necessary to become effective “bridgers.” I am trying to dance the dance that is required in this shadowy, transitional era.
But what do you say to a world that would rather eat cheap chicken grown at 400 times the normal rate and pumped with antibiotics and hormones than consider the alternatives? To a world that thinks nothing of wasting resources, killing off 200 species A DAY and the ecosystems in which they live in order to sustain the mass production of processed meats and substances? To a world that’s too busy Christmas shopping and worrying about health insurance but never connects the dots between these things? To a world that thinks a cancer vaccine can be created to cure cancer, or that diseases are simply a question of genetics? What you say to such a world is, WAKE UP!
I tell you, I’m just not into being polite anymore. In the dire game of survival on this planet, the sleeping masses stand in the way of life, like rogue bacteria. We are not islands. We are one organism intermingling on the same planet. We should do all we can to live cleanly as individuals, but we still have to reside among the combined emissions of the entire population and the biochemical makeup of the earth. We can fast on green juices and cleanse our internal organs to the best of our ability, but every cell of our being is still breathing in the compound substance of the entire organism.
If we want change, if we really want to keep life on this planet an option—good life, not deranged life—we have to stop consuming what we’ve been programmed to consume. We must stop destroying the fabric of our bodies and our world. We cannot carry on as if it doesn’t matter, not without dire consequences, which we’re already seeing. And as the planet becomes more and more irritated by the cancer of misguided human consumption on its delicate surface and tries to shake it off, just as the body tries to fight off illness, there will be symptoms! And symptoms on a planetary scale will surely cause mass devastation. With or without our help, the earth will have to fight to regain its balance.
Daniel Quinn writes in Ishmael: “Nonetheless, I tell you with complete confidence that something extraordinary is going to happen in the next two or three decades. The people of our culture are going to figure out how to live sustainably or they are not. And either way it’s certainly going to be extraordinary.” I agree. Either we are going to have a renaissance and give birth to a whole new way of life that we can only begin to conceive of now or we will perish. As he says, either way it will be an extraordinary sequence of events.
Many people believe the Earth was created for humankind, but the fact is, life was here long before the arrival of our species. And even then, the planet thrived for a long time more before civilization came along coating it with cement and poisonous by-products.
As I face the New Year, I am determined to help conceive and execute a new vision. I will never again ask myself, How can I fit in or be accepted in this social structure? I will ask, How can I transform it into something that is unanimously life-supporting?
So the question becomes, What is the vision? and then How are we going to build it? We can start by determining what’s worth keeping—all the best of human expression, creativity, and understanding. And determine what isn’t—the clearly offensive and destructive practices of humankind. From there we can create a new lifestyle that reflects this vision, even if it means losing some so-called conveniences along the way, like having the exact type of food we want when we want it, or using cheap plastic to manufacture all manner of products and packaging, or having huge homes and driving multiple cars. But first, we must truly believe, deep down, that our well-being, our life-experience, and having reliably healthy bodies and balanced emotions are worth the change!
Who among us, if given the choice between living as a man (or woman) and living for the man, would choose the latter? Yet that’s what the vast majority of us do in our culture. Food is a natural resource that our planet can easily and abundantly provide, yet we have structured our food consumption in such a way that we spend our lives working (mostly in jobs we can barely stand, day after day, decade after decade) to put dead, processed food in our family’s mouths.
I remember I was in the fourth grade when I heard someone say that the troubles of the world and the devastation of the planet would be left for my generation to fix. I thought, Okay, that seems unfair, but at least my generation will be smart enough to do it—we’ll correct what all those silly adults have done! But here we are and things have only gotten exponentially worse. Now the same is being said of my children’s generation.
What happens to us when we get older? The same thing that happens to bright leaders who take positions in government: we get scared. We question our vision, the impulses that once inspired us to act, and kowtow to the norms because the authorities behind them sound so gosh-darned bossy and authoritative! Self-doubt and fear of being wrong, or worse, haunts our true expression! It’s the primal pain of growing up: as children, filled with energy and clarity, we act on creative impulses that naturally conflict with the adult world, and what happens? We get punished!
I confess, I perceive far more than I talk about publicly. There are things I’d like to say that I censor EVERY TIME I COMMUNICATE, unless I’m with a close, like-minded friend whom I can trust. I can’t do it to that degree anymore for the simple reason that I’ve come to understand that silence kills. The more I let my fear keep a lid on what I really think, the more I allow the devastation. It’s like watching a person get abused or just standing by as a thief steals an old lady’s purse!
One thoughtful reader commented that my voice in this blog sounds angry. I agree with the mystic Almine, who explains that anger is the desire to protect. As a living being, it is natural to feel anger when something threatens the health of your world, inside or out. Being a peaceful warrior does not mean being insipid. We can practice equanimity and still hear the inner alarm bell of anger warning that something worth protecting is being threatened. To ignore or repress this siren is folly. We must honor ALL our feelings (see my 11/6/08 blog on anger). The question to ask is:What does this anger show us that we couldn’t see before?
Friends, we have to start seeing things as they are. We have to stop consuming what we are told to consume, seeing the world as we were taught to see it, accepting things just because they have some element of credibility without looking more closely.
Increased perception is power. We can change the world. We can eradicate the old blueprint that’s destroying everything good in our world and replace it with a much greater vision. We have to believe that this is possible. We have to believe that we are innovative enough to pioneer a new way of life. We don’t need to accept the expectations and limitations imposed upon us—that’s THE BIG LIE talking in order to satisfy the agenda of those who don’t care what happens after they are gone.
There is no easy way forward. We have to start forging the way, step by step:
Step #1: See that our way of life does not work for humans, or for any life forms at all.
Step #2: Recognize that the origins of our suffering come from our way of life.
Step #3: Realize that we do not need to abandon what is good in our world or return to living in caves. We must move forward, not back.
Step #4: Recognize that we are social beings in a culture that undervalues community.
Step #5: Create a new vision for society and innovate where necessary.
So many of us today are isolated; families are scattered; individuals are depressed and lonely. We must build more wholesome, unifying community experiences. Our current approaches to education and employment are colossal failures. These major building blocks of our way of life desperately require a complete redesign—an entirely new vision that is meant for humans, not for herd animals. When children are allowed to blossom more holistically, their natural talents and curiosities turn them into self-directed dynamos, brimming with enthusiasm for learning, leading to fulfilling expressions of their talents.
In this vision of the future, balanced, sovereign individuals will be rich with natural enthusiasm, integrity, and productivity. Clear, well-balanced people want to be creative and spend their time constructively. It’s a natural human desire to envision new things, craft, build, and innovate. Most people are at their happiest when they are engrossed in something creative.
I don’t have all the answers, and I am but one voice among many brothers and sisters in our human family, but I’m confident that, together, we can knit a beautiful new world that honors life in all its miraculous forms. I hope to offer more hopeful visions and practical steps as I play my part, and I hope you will do the same. But for now, I offer these sentiments as logs on the fire of life. I also plan to share my own experiences of culling the non-necessities in my own lifestyle as I undertake to be more conscientious than I’ve ever been before.
Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t like the way things are done or how they are affecting you and the world. Do you remember what happens in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy melts the witch? The monkey soldiers, who seemed so loyal to her before, break out in celebration upon her assassination! People are walking around defending a way of life that doesn’t work because they are so confused by it and what the alternatives might be. Just think how relieved everyone will be to see there’s a way out of their suffering!
It’s time for a renaissance. Let’s pull together and create something extraordinary, for we human beings are far more extraordinary than this culture we cling to!
For further inspiration, here is a poem by William Ernest Henley, titled “Invictus,” which is enjoying the spotlight, thanks to an inspiring new film by the same name—about South Africa winning the Rugby World Cup championship in 1995, and all that it meant to the nation’s blossoming rebirth. I feel that it applies well here. Apparently, Nelson Mandela turned to this poem for support throughout his twenty-seven-year imprisonment on Robben Island.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
—William Ernest Henley