I grew up in South Carolina, USA, and I currently live in Tokyo, Japan. I am well versed in religion, various cultures, and world politics.
Thought control, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is:
the practice by a totalitarian government of attempting (as by propaganda) to prevent subversive and other undesired ideas from being received and competing in the minds of the people with the official ideology and policies.
Thought control is a manipulative tactic used in many areas of life. The government can censor information being taught at public schools, the news can censor information or distort stories to fit their agenda, and religion can feed a black-and-white narrative stronger than anyone else.
It is a danger, because it imposes particular ways of thinking as being right and others as being wrong. We can especially see this in politics and religion, because both of these entities influence culture heavily.
It is through thought control that we create division, and it is division that creates animosity and war. The motive for thought control is primarily power, and power can be very tempting because it provides a sense of authority.
Are We Just Sheeple?
Each of us is subject to thought control. Ask yourself honestly, "How many of my thoughts are my own?" The more you think about it, the more you will realize how much you have been influenced by the world around you.
That is not necessarily a bad thing, because human beings are naturally tribal animals. We are homophily by nature, meaning we seek to be with people who think similarly. This is a strong reason why focused groups tend to collect. Conservatives unite under one banner, liberals protest with arms linked, Christians meet in a church, book clubbers drink their wine and neglect their books, and enthusiasts enjoy their hobbies together.
It's part of what it means to be human, but is that enough? Are we to just adhere to the ways of our tribe and not question anything? Are we to be considered heathens for thinking differently or accepting the thoughts of other tribes? How are we to have seemingly opposing viewpoints without being ostracized?
The Power of Thought Control
When thought control is used, it creates very clear hierarchical structures. The people at the top decide what to believe, what to do, what to think, where to go, and when to do all of these things. Anyone under them is not allowed to question this authority. This is seen as defiant, and usually these individuals are punished, put in a box, or excommunicated, depending on the group.
Thought Control in Politics
In politics, we often see this in Conservatives and Liberals. Once a conservative starts altering their view of abortion, for example, their fellow conservatives begin to question if they have ever been a conservative. Because of this one slight change in thought, they are immediately labeled as "liberal", "stupid", or "baby killer".
Liberals ostracize other liberals if they even hint at a differing view of immigration, for example. The mob mentality uses strong accusations to shame the black sheep and drive them away instead of having a loving and healthy discussion to understand the viewpoint.
Thought Control in the News
In major news outlets, agendas are quickly understood in how they communicate the news and who they present as stars of the political realm.
For years, Fox News spent as much time as humanly possible ridiculing and insulting Barack Obama, but now that Donald Trump is president, Fox News believes it is wrong to make fun of the president. A clear hypocrisy.
MSNBC, for example, spends so much air time on Donald Trump, you would almost think they support him. Their clear disdain and constant bickering of Donald Trump feeds a narrative to the country that we shouldn't find any good quality in him at all.
Thought Control in Religion
Many world religions paint a very clear black-and-white scenario. There are clear good people, and there are clear bad people. Religions teach standards that their followers take as gospel, and then these followers criticize the world around them that do not think like they do.
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The action of proselytizing perfectly communicates this. A person from one religion sees a person from another religion as being hopeless and in need of salvation or enlightenment, so they go on a mission to take that person away from their religion. This process is ironically called "sheep stealing".
All of these forms use information to control and manipulate your thinking, and that is truly the power of thought control.
The Danger of Thought Control
At the core, thought control prevents us from being our true selves. We are creative beings with so much potential, and each of us is gifted with some truly amazing talents.
We are also complex beings with so much on our minds, and each of us is wrestling with different complicated thoughts that cannot be easily figured out with generic political or religious answers. Such complexities require some deep discussion to unravel, and that is okay.
If your political affiliation is preventing you from being your true self and not allowing you to wrestle healthily and freely with some hard thoughts, that political affiliation is not worth your time.
If your news network is force feeding you information that you find disturbing, hypocritical, or disgraceful, turn that channel off. You will be saving yourself a lot of trouble.
If your religion is causing you to hate, disconnect, or divide and taking you away from your true nature, you may need to take a step back and evaluate if that religion is actually best for you.
Because, again, at the core, these entities do not want us to be our true selves. They do not want us to be creative. They do not want us to be free.
They fear your freedom.
They want total control, and they will do whatever it takes to keep it.
There Is Hope
As dark as it may feel to be under the control of so many outlets, there is hope.
Mankind has persevered for thousands of years, and the example of old prophets, philosophers, artists, protesters, and many others have shown that we can break away from the mold and freely express ourselves.
We need to learn to recognize when thought control is being used and not fall into old patterns. We need to differentiate teaching, mentoring, and thought control, understanding clearly the benefit of the first two and the danger of the third. It is easy for thought control to disguise itself as teaching or mentoring, but there are ways to identify when thought control is taking place;
- It instills black vs white, us vs them, good vs evil thinking.
- It uses lots of loaded language and cliches to stop complex thought.
- It can change your identity, even your name.
- It uses thought-stopping techniques to prevent critical thinking.
- It may allow only positive thoughts.
- It suppresses certain emotions, particularly negative ones.
- It rejects rational analysis, critical thinking, and doubt.
- And it uses unconventional methods to block or neglect actual thought.
We are the same beings that invented the wheel, discovered fire, developed scientific knowledge and analysis, challenged the religious mindset with philosophy, composed masterful music, built skyscrapers to the clouds, landed on the moon, and so much more! We are capable of immeasurable things, and there are people out there that do not want you doing any of that.
What are you going to do about it?
© 2019 Jason Reid Capp