Saturday, May 12, 2012
When a color is thrown and mixed with black, it becomes black. The original color is lost and instead it is simply a part of a group. Alas, when this happens to a person, similar things end up happening there too. This is the mob mentality, groupthink, brainwashing. It can be seen everywhere from small cults to whole religious groups, from a whole country to a while society. Groupthink becomes a way of thinking and once it is gone, it is gone.
Right now, I cannot get this song out of my head- "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour. It is a song that really speaks to me personally and reflects everything that I believe in. In Social Studies, we're learning about the rise of dictators and one of the groups put it in their PowerPoint. Its message is one that speaks to me deeply. I am an individual above all else; only I define myself. It always seemed odd to me when people are heavily interested in a group. As one who has never been very patriotic nor very religious, I have never understood the need to be a part of a group.
The one thing that is clear to me is how dangerous groupthink really is. Our reasoning skills are a valuable tool and the only thing we really have. While it is sometimes easier to hand the reigns over to someone else, this usually results in trouble. Often, the leader of this group (because oh so often there is one, with the exception of many religions) has sinister intentions that only reveal themselves later. Oh they know what to do and they know what to say. Most dictators in history took over without a single shot fired. Why is this? Because, especially in a time of crisis, it is easy to be overtaken by fear and confusion and just let someone take over. A lot of time it is just so much easier for people to just not think.
These leaders often prey on the weak, cult leaders. The German people, for instance, were starving, jobless and desperate. The Treaty of Versailles had left the Germans with nothing left. After the war had ended, they plunged into a depression as they tried to pay the debts that they owed. When Hitler came along with the answers, things seemed perfect. And then he gave them jobs. The people in the marches were completely insane. Their eyes are blank but crazed, ready to drink up more poison. They have been possessed with a demon they cannot even see. If the people of Germany read Mein Kamph, if they read up on the man who had suddenly been given power to Germany, maybe things would have turned out differently.
Dictators and cult leaders will often have their subjects rely on group pride and nationalism, but these can exist in other parts too. A few times I've seen this attitude reflected in uber-patriotic people and I've even seen this attitude reflected towards countries that people have identified with (Israel, mostly). In this instance, these countries and groups are above reproach and have absolutely nothing wrong with them. It's not like their doing anything wrong, right? They can't be. It's not like the media helps with this too, especially since this it is often one of the biggest contributors to groupthink in our society.
This can happen on a smaller scale too. Often, religion can do this and often does. When one is trained their whole life to rely on a "feeling", is it no wonder that they feel it? When they are threatened with hell and subjugated into a vile sinner, what else are they to expect? They are told that their lives should be dictated on one book and that they should be tunneled into one cause. In less severe cases, this can simply result into a little fundamentalist. This fundamentalist will become a part of a larger wave of the theocratic movement going on in America that dictates the lives of others. Sometimes, in more severe cases, this kind of thinking can lead to something worse and sometimes a cult. While religion isn't the only thing that makes people fight and not the only thing that causes terrible things, it often causes quite a bit of it.
This all comes down to the symbolic blue pill and red pill from the movie, The Matrix in society. The blue pill offers security, comfort and bliss. Many dictators offered this. Yet the red pill offers truth. It is often an ugly truth but it is a truth nonetheless. When one chooses groupthink, they choose the blue pill. A group, after all, can offer all this with its support. As a society, we must take the hard but right choice of taking the red pill.
At the end of the day, truth is all we have. Reality and reason are all we have. We can't throw that away by being a part of a group that only offers mob mentality. We need to take the red pill.