Conditioned Ignorance, The New Social Trend
(Hinduwebsite Editorial - Exploring Truth Amidst Illusions and Distortions)
Conditioned ignorance is the new modern phenomenon, which is self-evident in many countries and cultures. It helps people minimize the complexity of life, but keeps them in perpetual ignorance of certain values, problems and areas of knowledge, without which they become cogs in the wheel of life and remain prisoners of commercial, political and ideological interests, beliefs and values.
A few centuries ago it was difficult for people to know about the world in which they lived. They had to be strongly determined or had to be born in educated and wealthy families to receive education or know the world. Even then their knowledge and resources were severely limited due to lack of facilities and absence of right information. Child mortality was very high due to disease and frequent famines. Hence, more children died before they even understood what was going on.
In today's world we have eradicated many such problems. People now have more opportunities and choices to become educated, even in their old age. School education is free in almost all countries. Compulsory education of children is enforced by many governments. Loans, subsidies, and scholarships are available to students to pursue their college education. They can also go abroad to pursue higher education. Those who want to improve their knowledge can access a lot of free information on the Internet and public libraries to know about the world, people, and their professions. Evening schools and long distance education enable working people to pursue education even while working.
The Industrial revolution and technological advances changed the way people learn and improve their knowledge and literacy. Now, we have more literate people amidst us who can read and write and make important decisions for themselves and their families. Compulsory education, in countries like India, led to a remarkable improvement in literacy rates. The modern education system, which was devised originally in the West, liberated people from their limiting beliefs, and from the authority of tradition and dogma, and helped them improve their living standards and financial security.
Yet, has all this translated into increased knowledge and intellectual ability? Knowledge wise, are people in today's world any better than their ancestors? Has the education system created more ethically aware, enlightened, principled, and intellectually active people? Let us examine the following.
1. Compared to previous generations, more people are now spending their time in frivolous activities that numb their thinking and intellect. Instead of enriching their minds with right knowledge that help them grow mentally and intellectually, people are now spending more time watching television, sports, movies and adult content that keep them distracted, selectively ignorant, and mentally stunted.
2. There are now more drug addicts in the world than ever. Alcohol consumption (bingeing) is rampant in youth and adults alike in many parts of the world. Now, we have more people, politicians and lobbyists, who want governments to legalize drugs for recreation.
3. More people than ever now prefer knowing film stars, singers, celebrities, controversial public figures, and adult film stars than scholars, philosophers, writers, poets, and scientists, who contribute to the progress of society. For them decadence is culture, and culture is boring.
4. People prefer reading cheap fiction and crime novels, rather than good literature or books and journals that enrich their minds and challenge their critical thinking.
5. More people than in the past now distrust the value of virtue and good conduct in their lives. For them, religion is evil, sex is divine, and means do not matter as long as they achieve their ends.
6. Crime, corruption, promiscuity, violence, lying, cheating, and deception in personal dealings are steadily on the increase.
7. More people than in the past now believe that having the freedom to be self-destructive is more important than being disciplined and committed to a good life.
8. Many people do not know who their leaders are, how they are elected, how the constitution works, or the history of the countries in which they live.
9. More people are now influenced by ideological propaganda, pseudo intellectual values and contrived social and political causes, rather than traditional values and religious beliefs.
10. More people now believe that freedom means freedom from parents, freedom to choose sexual partners, freedom to consume alcohol and harmful drugs, freedom to disobey law, freedom to take money which is not rightfully theirs, and freedom to loaf.
11. More people in today's world despise hard work, refuse sane advice, look to government for doles, and envy those who work hard and make a living.
These and many other recent developments indicate that progress does not guarantee better human character and behavior, and mass education, expensive schools, and better education or even better teachers and books do NOT translate themselves into more knowledgeable and more self-aware communities. Learning is still an individual effort. Society cannot make you educated or intelligent. Society wants to control you and determine how you live and whether you confirm to the standards it upholds. It may provide you with facilities and opportunities, but it is up to each individual how they are used. In life individual effort still matters. Those who take responsibility for their lives become educated anyway, and those who believe that society owe them a responsibility remain ignorant, petulant and frustrated. You may send them to dream schools, but they will still carry with them their nightmares.
A lot of people in the world are today are conditioned to be selectively ignorant about certain aspects of their lives and the world. It did not happen by accident. Their ignorance feeds many businesses, especially the entertainment industry and the political systems. Both of them promise to create social awareness and deliver people from ignorance and mental slavery, but do otherwise. Your ignorance also helps certain ideologies, and belief systems prevail in society and influence your decisions and choices.
Conditioned and controlled ignorance is the bane of modern society. Since it serves the rich and the powerful and feeds many businesses and industries, providing them with customers, fans, buyers, admirers, and patrons, the problem is not going to disappear anytime soon. The world has always been controlled by a few powerful people, and they have been doing it consistently in all ages through conditioning, which gives the masses the illusion of enjoying certain freedoms and privileges, whereas that freedom comes with an invisible leash around their minds.
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