Believe it or not

WRITING ON THE WALL by Joseph Roberts

Welcome to the December issue of Common Ground. In this last month of 2008, we look to 2009 with renewed hope for the change that we believe will come.

The great news is that we don’t have to worry about Sarah Pallin ruling the empire to the south, given that Barack Obama seized the day. Like many others, I cried when I saw Obama delivering his speech at the park in Chicago. As the TV cameras panned the audience, both young and old alike had tears in their eyes. And the very eldest wept as they had seen the times when their forefathers were slaves, and they, themselves, had had to drink from a different water fountain than white folks, and forced to sit at the back of the bus. Maybe Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were watching through the eyes of those elders who are still alive to see the dream come true. Hallelujah!

Although we were hustled along into a federal election a year ahead of schedule, the offending party did not win the coveted, supreme prize of a majority. Former president Bill Clinton spoke at a recent BCBC talk in Vancouver. At the same function, Stockwell Day joked after dinner that the CPC now had a more “muscular minority.” Well, as we are all aware, Bill’s muscular minority got him into lots of trouble with Monica.

In Vancouver, we also saw two provincial by-elections vote for change. Then, to the amazement of many Vancouverites, Vision Vancouver vanquished the prior, ruling civic NPA party, taking the mayor’s seat and all other positions, leaving the NPA with only one seat on city council. During mayor-elect Gregor Robertson’s acceptance speech at the Vancouver Hotel, he made promises for change.

We are the change we have been waiting for; now is the time. And as Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

This edition launches a new column titled Independent Media, which will link the important information media issues, such as internet neutrality, keeping media honest, and protecting the freedom of those who do not own huge media empires so they too have their voices heard. We welcome Steve Anderson, organizer of Media Democracy Day at the VPL, an event well worth your participation if you missed it this year.

It seems many among us voted for change and are ready to act to create a more humane and civil society. So why is it that many others misunderstand or fear change? It is partially because we have different beliefs. So why are beliefs so hard to change, and why do governments, corporations and religions invest so much money and effort to imprint and defend their chosen beliefs? Because, to a large degree, beliefs run people’s lives. We get identified with our beliefs. People feel their existence depends on this identity and when their cherished beliefs appear to be threatened, they defend them as if their ego’s survival depended on it. Beliefs become engrained, passed on from generation to generation, or more lately from TV to video games to Facebook. These fossilized thought programs fundamentally stop people from questioning. Thus, they defend their belief systems with the full force of their survival instinct. Useful if you want to start a war and needs lots of soldiers.

This can be gold to the small but powerful group of leaders who want to rule the world’s resources or economy, especially if they monopolize most of the mass media. When people are threatened, the fight or flight response kicks in. Whether the terror is real or imagined, the physical response is the same: the heartbeat goes up, cortisone increases and the mind focuses on the perceived threat. This phenomena is aptly captured by Mark Twain’s quote: “I have been through some terrible things in my life…some of which actually happened.”

People react if they believe a threat is real. They stop looking at all the options; they don’t check the accuracy of the statements and they hunker down into their mental bunkers to fight or weather the storm, (or hurricane, as in the disaster in New Orleans), believing help will come soon.

Smart and powerful people manufacture belief in terror and derive consent to a “there-is-no-other-choice” solution, which always robs people of their money, rights, resources or property.

It is not much different today as it was in the Dark Ages, the Industrial Revolution, numerous hot or cold wars, dropping the big one, YK2, WMD or the current economic terror. If Henny Penny believes the sky is falling, Henny Penny’s eggs can be stolen.

In other words, we are lied to in order to believe a lie so that those who lie can benefit from their fraud. And they need us, the middle class and the huddled masses, to buy into their con because they need us for cannon fodder.

Another way of describing this relationship was coined by Dr. John Gofman, the scientist who isolated the first gram of plutonium. Gofman worked on the Manhattan Project along with Albert Einstein and others to develop the first atomic bomb. People like Einstein had agreed to develop the bomb because they were promised it would not be used on people, but rather exploded off-shore as a demonstration to the Japanese to induce their surrender. The agreement was with president Roosevelt, who died in office and Harry Truman took over and immediately signed the directive to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These eminent scientist, some of them pacifists, were taken advantage of by powerful forces that lied because they wanted to use the discovery for their geo-political purposes.

The scientists were played the same way the public gets played. Gofman noted there are two classes of people. There is no longer the left or the right, nor the north or the south, but rather the screwers and the screwees. Truman worked for those moneyed interests who wanted to show those pesky Russians (remember the same ones who were our allies to defeat Hitler) who were running the world. So they demonstrated US might by desecrating not just one but two cities in Japan. The victors wrote the history books and conveniently rearranged the facts and left out what they did not want us peasants to know. Because part of their game is to keep us believing that they would never do bad things to good people. And that they would always tell us the truth about who the good guys and bad guys are. Who the invaders and the liberartors are. Who the saviours and the sinners are. The game unfortunately goes on until their lies are no longer believable, which requires a fair amount of delving into what is really going on.

Hopefully as the curtains close on 2008, we can see the light returning after the solstice at the end of this tunnel vision.

So it is with great hope that our dreams for change and for fairness, compassion and justice will actually happen.

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