Ever-present in conspiracy movies like The Matrix
or They Live
is the notion that you--in your simple day-to-day life--are being exploited and deprived of your full rights of existence by something more alien than just "The Man". It's an issue not of power as you understand it, but subtle programming at a level you can't even fathom until you get an aerial view of what's going on.
Someone told me about Temple Grandin
, who designs slaughterhouses and has been praised by PETA
for her work in making them "humane". The circuitous path through the slaughterhouse is so invisible to the cattle that they don't realize what's happening, or what's coming. It's nothing as obvious as a farmer walking up with an axe and chopping your fellow cows to bits.
Must we--like in the Matrix--wait for someone already living outside of the system (like Morpheus) to show us the needles which are sapping us of our transdimensional blood? Or can we figure it out for ourselves without help?
My thinking is that the only approach is education, and directly challenging our senses and the environment we've been given. Only by causing some disruption can we hope to find that sometimes our wriggling results in pulling the wool off of our eyes. This takes some risk, and I've tried to write stories to explain what reasonable risk is and how we might go about testing our assumptions.
Let's think momentarily about how those who don't have regard for rules can easily take advantage of those who do follow the rules. Someone could just go and put traffic cones out in front of a public parking lot and start charging for people to enter--who'll check their credentials? I once went on a hike at a reservoir, which was a very beautiful place, where a lot of expensive houses were. They had put a gate around it and had a big sign saying "no photo or video equip on reservoir premises". This was apparently a relaxation of a prior rule about not allowing people there at all. But a reasonable person asked: Well, who put that sign there?
Rule-followers who become suspicious of the veracity of an obstruction can test it, but can't necessarily do it alone. If you see a door and it says "DO NOT OPEN-ALARM WILL SOUND" you might wonder what's on the other side of that door; what if it's an identical sign? If you don't want to cause a disruption you could slide something under the door describing what's on your side--at least that way, you can help someone on the other side realize if this is an artificial boundary--and not something that's related to safety. Of course, then they'd have to decide what they trust more...a slick plastic sign from a print shop, or a paper you slipped under. So you better make your message accurately describe what's on your side. And you also need to find a way to hide your message in case the authorities regularly sweep things that come out from under the door.
Of course, this makes me think of the harmlessness of things like little colored tags. If you graffiti a parking sign, so no one can read what it says, a parking attendant will report it and it will be replaced (and you will probably get in trouble for vandalism if you are caught). But if you get a little red ribbon, and tie it on the signpost, you can perhaps say something without actually attracting much notice. Authority will probably not untie it, because they are lazy and will perceive it as no threat. But if you later notice another ribbon tied onto the post you may be able to infer something from it--at some point you get a critical mass and your process-of-elimination can help you realize you're not alone and it is time to stage a coup.
I make a habit of noticing little "harmless" tags. One day I noticed for the first time a little green plastic tag on one of the cables outside my home--presumably a phone line. I wondered "what's that green tag there for?" It's the sort of thing that stands out to me the way that empty colored shopping carts placed precisely squarely on street corners do. Sometimes I'll push the cart back to its store, and if it comes back (along with another one) that's cause for wondering.
In any case, I wondered about this tag...then the next day I was awoken by loud hacking and crashing. I went downstairs and saw some guys literally tearing the entire wall off our building, and they'd cut that wire in the process. (Not all the wires, just that one.) I asked what they were doing and they explained to me that the wall was bulging and kind of rotten so they were fixing it.
The most suspicious thing is that they're actually repairing something, especially in a proactive way...that doesn't add up, because usually something has to be far beyond broken to get attention. But I have to say, this stuff does kind of make me feel eerie. It's scary, like in The Village
...where they started having the red marks show up on their doors, and with the yellow flags. (It turned out their whole society was insane, and living archaically isolated from the broader world.)
Are you? One thing is for sure--if you find that your society is treating you like a criminal under the label of "insanity" for doing harmless tests, you have reason to worry greatly. Unless you're happy with your lot in life...and of course we must all make time for centering activities and recreation. But I don't understand people who can be happy when others are not, because in a global sense If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.
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