- The term "paradigm shift" is used with increasing
regularity in popular media. It describes a profound and usually irrevocable
shift in the way people think. Despite its amazing overuse, I do like the
term -- a change in the collective heart and mind is necessary in order
for tangible change to occur.
- We've all gone through our share of dramatic -- and often
TRAUMATIC -- personal "paradigm shifts." Early in life, one's
perception is like a slab of silly putty -- it is easily twisted and shaped
by the influences of culture, education, religion, and family. Sometimes,
the end result is a distorted mass of contradictions and falsehoods. To
"shift" one's "paradigm" in the direction of clarity
requires conscientiousness, honesty, and unbending courage. Without this
diligence, one is doomed to walk through life without the ability to discern
- I've always known that in my home country of the United
States, powerful people want to misshape our brains to fit their own purposes.
They do this effectively through the "consolidated" media, where
the majority of print, radio, and television outlets are owned by a handful
of corporations. Indeed, entertainment and "news" media have
become barely distinguishable, and they are all equally determined to manipulate
- The "news" media have no devotion to truth
-- NONE. If you doubt this, ask yourself, why do cable "news"
networks "report" so obsessively on the murders and/or disappearances
of gorgeous young women like Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, the "Runaway
Bride," etc., etc.?
- Answer: Because they know that these stories are good
for ratings, and furthermore, they are totally inane and contain no information
that will harm advertising revenue. Indeed, this is the motivation behind
every "programming" decision that the "news" media
make. If you wonder why the major "news" outlets refuse to cover
a bona fide scandal like the aspartame controversy (the FDA knew it was
poison, and approved it for consumption in the U.S. anyway), count the
number of times you see an ad for a major soft drink company during any
network broadcast. Sure, millions of Americans may be unwittingly developing
brain tumors thanks to their daily servings of diet cola, but hey, these
media folk have lifestyles to maintain!
- The "news" media need me to care about bulls***,
because bulls*** is the only product they're selling. Celebrity gossip,
professional sports, hot young babes abducted or killed, and for more "sophisticated"
reportage, ideological hacks blathering about the latest Washington power
struggles. If you invest a scintilla of thought or energy caring about
these inanities, then you are a victim of deliberate manipulation. Your
mind has been molded into something ugly and distorted.
- The sulfurous undertone of bulls*** that permeates the
"news" media is more than equalled in the entertainment industry.
Hollywood, pop music, pop fiction books, and TV shows consistently paint
a picture of "reality" that offends both common sense and decency.
The grubby hands of twisted and misguided people claw viciously at your
- Hollywood films are 1% truth and beauty, and 99% unmitigated
bulls***. Of course, movies have always "lied": in the heyday
of Jimmy Stewart and Bob Hope, America -- all white and asexual -- was
portrayed like a hideous caricature of a Rockwell painting. But an even
worse trend of disingenuousness exists today. Many Hollywood filmmakers
-- most notably directors Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Tony
Scott -- have made millions by intentionally portraying evil and psychopathic
behavior in a romantic light.
- Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill"
flicks feature incredibly likable and urbane protagonists with just one
"personality flaw" -- they murder human beings for money or revenge.
The violence in these films is cartoonish and apparently intended for titillation
and humor. It is ironic that many critics praise Tarantino for his alleged
"grittiness" and "authenticity," because in the real
world, murderers tend not to be likable or intelligent. A short visit to
a maximum security penitentiary might disabuse Tarantino of such an absurd
notion. And the real-life consequences of ultra-violence are neither funny
- Pop fiction books are even less authentic than Hollywood
films. A visit to the bestseller rack of any bookstore is one of the most
dispiriting experiences of modern times. A few hackneyed authors -- Dean
Koontz, John Grisham, Ken Follet, James Patterson, etc, etc. -- keep churning
out the same reliably inane piffle, page after page of inhuman characters
spewing stilted dialogue and behaving with no psychological truth. This
matters not to John Q. Public, who seeks nothing more from his "literature"
than a handy diversion while he's on the toilet.
- If it's authenticity you want, don't let your hand go
near that FM radio dial. The "consolidated" stations across the
U.S. blast nothing but the corporate-approved "music" produced
by giant record labels. The majority of the public has always bought music
based on what they hear on the radio -- they are trained to believe that
if it's GOOD, it will make it onto the air. So it's a vicious cycle where
big studios sign crappy bands because they have a "sound" similar
to an earlier crappy band that has sold a lot of records. If you think
you enjoy crap-rock, it is because you have been programmed to -- those
inanely catchy melodies have robbed your brain of its musical taste.
- Don't go near the AM dial either. Talk radio once had
the potential to be what the internet is -- an independent source of cutting
edge information that the corporate and governmental "powers that
be" don't want you to know. But any true independence in talk radio
was killed by the aforementioned "consolidation" of stations
-- with special "thanks" due to right-wing, Bush-supporting Clear
Channel! Listeners can choose between a huge variety of "outside the
box" thinkers like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, and Michael
Savage -- all of whom "coincidentally" oppose gay rights and
regard liberalism as a "mental illness." And if politics isn't
your thing, you have 24/7 sports talk ("Raiders suck, dude!!!), and
a plethora of enlightening weekend shows with topics ranging from home
gardening to car repair.
- And of course, the absolute number one purveyor of bulls***
in American media is television. In addition to the aforementioned TV "news",
countless sitcoms, crime dramas, and reality TV shows try to misshape our
minds with relentless dishonesty. Sitcoms lie with their sheer vapidity
and phony brand of formulaic "humor" (don't these idiots know
that the truth is always funnier than a caricature?). Crime dramas lie
by presenting criminal investigations in a wildly distorted light -- some
attorneys even believe this is having an impact on real-life court cases.
(The term "CSI Syndrome" refers to jurors who have been trained
to expect and demand inarguable physical proof to convict a defendant.)
Reality TV shows lie because they send the message that sadism towards
one's fellow man is both humorous and socially acceptable (particularly
shows like "Scare Tactics," where victims are made to believe
that their lives are actually in danger). And the biggest lie of all is
the way people LOOK on TV -- they are overwhelmingly slender and incredibly
attractive. It is not a coincidence that U.S. citizens lead the world both
in hours spent watching TV, and incidence of the eating disorders anorexia
- I repeat, powerful people want to mold your mind to fit
their self-serving interests. They are salesmen, you see...and the products
they are selling are ignorance and egotism. Useless entertainment such
as gratuitously violent films, video games, and professional sports thrive
in the U.S. because consumers have been programmed to use them as a vicarious
means for ego empowerment. The unspoken attitude of many is, "I want
badly to be someone, but I know this won't happen in the real world. So
I lose myself in the fantasy of entertainment, where I can identify with
anyone I want -- a pro athlete, a rock god, or even a serial killer."
- The corporate "bottom-liners" who own the media
have a VESTED INTEREST in creating collective and individual mental illness.
The more contracted and disturbed your mind is, the more product they are
going to sell. Just as it's easier to mass-produce junk food than to nurture
and grow organic health food, it is easier to sell ignorance and egotism
than truth and beauty.
- Our culture desperately needs to learn the art of truth-seeking.
This art is intuitive as much as it is intellectual. When someone tries
to persuade you to a certain viewpoint or "paradigm," ask yourself
if their view jibes with what you KNOW to be true based on experience and
observation. This is the most important function you will ever have in
the world. We all have a duty to ourselves and to society to be personally
responsible not just for our actions, but for our THOUGHTS. Yes, we are
lied to as a matter of course, and yes, these lies can damage our psyches.
But within each of us is the ability to REJECT a lie, no matter how persuasive
or appealing. This is done by developing a valid personal identity -- not
as a "consumer" or even a "citizen," but a powerfully
conscious and independent truth-seeker. Learn the truth of who you are,
and you will not have a mind as pliable as silly putty, but a bedrock structure
capable of withstanding the most violent of storms.