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Spring 2013: Molded by Society
Publish date: Apr 11, 2013
Summary: As we go through life, we catch on to ideas from our interactions and environments. We tend to be molded by the society we live in.
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As we go through life, we catch on to ideas from our interactions and environments. We tend to be molded by the society we live in.
We can tell this merely by looking at society around us. Sociologists, psychologists, marketers, and advertisers are keenly aware of our malleable tendencies. We see so many messages directed at us from organizations we don’t even know—telling us how to think, what to look like, and who to be. They wouldn’t be trying to influence us if it didn’t work and, unless we choose to live like cave hermits, it is difficult to avoid these messages.
Sending a Hidden Message
Some messages are unspoken—a beautiful model touched up in Photoshop looks at us from a billboard telling us that we must look like her in order to be beautiful. Subliminal sexual or occult messages hidden in advertising for innocuous items like chocolate cake, brandy, and gum persuade us to purchase and indulge.
In his book Propaganda, founder of public relations Edward Bernays explains that we are indeed manipulated and conformed:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of (Propaganda: 37).
This statement is one worth exploring. If indeed Bernays’ words are true, we are one of the most enslaved cultures to ever live on Earth—for our society is permeated with advertising manipulation. Nothing is as it seems. That haircut you think is cool, that outfit you desperately want, and the car you drive were all inspired by Madison Avenue.
Here’s what Richard Winter, author of Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment writes:
What does the advertising industry do to you? Its endless commercials...breed in you discontent with your house, your car, your body, your clothes...In old-fashioned biblical language, it inspires you to covet. It promises you satisfaction, peace, meaning, and happiness, but only if you get your needs met now. Children learn that they are the most important person in the universe, that impulses should not be denied, that pain should not be tolerated...and that the cure for any kind of pain is a product. They learn a weird mix of dissatisfaction and entitlement...With the messages of ads, we are socializing children to be self-centered, impulsive, and addicted.
Land of the Free?
Goethe once said, "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." Isn’t America the land of the free? Don’t we here in Canada think that we are free? We may be free externally, but are our minds free? Isn’t it ironic that young people break away from Christian principles in order to be "free" to watch movies and TV—actually choosing to be ensnared and controlled by movie producers and advertisers?
Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, thinker, and social critic believed movies to be the greatest avenue of influence in society:
But perhaps the most important of all modern agents of propaganda is the cinema...leading to almost world wide uniformity...The great majority of young people in almost all civilized countries derive their ideas of love, of honour, of the way to make money, and of the importance of good clothes, from the evenings spent in seeing what Hollywood thinks good for them. I doubt whether all the churches and schools combined have as much influence as the cinema on the opinions of the young...
The producers of Hollywood are the high-priests of a new religion...the result is that any defects in the status quo become known only to those who are willing to spend their leisure time otherwise than in amusement; these are, of course, a small minority...
There is however a certain instability about the whole system. In the event of unsuccessful war it might break down, and the population, which had grown accustomed to amusements might be driven by boredom into serious thought
Russell also believed the education system should be used to transform children into what society needs them to be, and that Jesuit methods were ideal for accomplishing these goals:
It is to be expected that advances in physiology and psychology will give governments much
more control over individual mentality than they now have even in totalitarian countries. Fichte laid it down that, education should aim at destroying free will, so that, after pupils have left school, they shall be incapable, throughout the rest of their lives, of thinking or acting otherwise than as their schoolmasters would have wished...
Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible.
Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.
How much of our educational system promotes rote learning and creates people that do just as they have been taught to do? How many of the values that we teach our kids are dismantled in the classroom?
Bertrand Russell’s writings are scary as we think about the pervasive role the movie industry and the educational system play in our lives. We are constantly being conditioned into a certain stream of thinking—but we call it learning or fitting in.
I’ll Do It My Way
One large influence on modern thinking was Aleister Crowley. One of the wickedest men in the world, he was deeply occult and wanted to see the family unit broken down. He coined a new "law" that he believed was what humanity should follow, and it was "do as thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law".
This idea has been accepted wholeheartedly by much of society, and this law is seen in movies and music repeatedly. Jazz crooner Frank Sinatra, who many today would consider tame and harmless, wrote a song called I’ll Do It My Way. It was a famous song, and many may still remember the tune.
Anton LaVey, the founder of the church of Satan, and his followers view I’ll Do It My Way as the most satanic song of the 20th century—a strange thing to call a song by Frank Sinatra.
How many of us still get tricked by the idea that Satan only comes to us through disgusting, noisy, ugly, demonic-looking impressions? Yet Satanists consider Frank Sinatra’s song satanic. Why? Because it presents the very message Satan wants all of us to get: that we should do things our way, not God’s way. Our way, our likes, our desires, our wants, our needs are what we should be catering to. Wasn’t pure and simple selfishness always the core of Satan’s government and rebellion?
Follow Your Heart
The satanic message of I’ll Do It My Way has been repeated again and again in movies and music in the last 60 years. Here are some excerpts from popular songs:
"I’m free to do what I want any old time."
"Do what you want to do/what you want to do/ try hard to live your life/ live right the way you want."
"I need to do what I feel like doing/ so let me go."
"I am what I am/ I’ll do what I want"
"Do what you want/go on and do what you want"
"Do what you wanna do"
"Just be yourself any way that you want to/ any way that you can"
"Life is ours, we live it our way"
This message has many other expressions:
"You’ve just got to believe/ believe in yourself."
"Trust your heart."
"Listen to your heart."
"The truth is all within yourself."
"I’ve come this far with the truth of my heart."
"Why second guess what feels so right/ Just trust your heart and you’ll see the light/ True to your heart/ you must be true to your heart."
"Follow your heart and nothing else."
This pervasive "follow your heart" message is also being fed to our children through Disney movies. We see the girl being told to "follow her heart" and do what she has always wanted to do, whether it is to fall into the arms of a prince or to follow an independent path and break the roles she is placed in. She is taught that whatever the case, just "follow your heart" and all will be well. The solution to everyone’s happiness, the answer to everyone’s dilemma, is always to "follow your heart.
Choosing a Law to Live By
According to research on Satanism by teacher and lecturer Scott Ritsema, the three core teachings of modern satanism can be summed up as:
- I can be a god unto myself by making my own rules
- I find the truth within
- Follow your own desires, feelings, heart.
But Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says, "what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?"
We are told that God has our best in mind, that His ways are what bring happiness. Following His rules is what guarantees peace and joy in our hearts and in our society. As Romans 12:2 tells us:
Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.
What does this verse mean for us? How can we have our minds renewed in order to be transformed and no longer conformed to the messages and will of an unknown group of godless power-hungry controllers that wish to manipulate society into drones that have no ability to choose for themselves?
God never wanted drones. He gave us minds to think and says "Come now, let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). He wants us to intelligently follow Him through choice. Never does He want to manipulate or even guilt us into following Him. "If ye love me," Jesus says, "keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
A Peculiar People
We see by sharp contrast the beauty of God’s ways from those of the "world" and Satan. For many of us, it may be a struggle to break free from the world’s mold–the ideas and messages that have shaped us our entire lives.
We live in a worldly society, it is true. To some point, we end up fitting in. But God calls us who are living in the world, to not be of the world. He calls us to be a "peculiar people" (Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 2:9).
To be peculiar may mean that we no longer watch cable television. It may mean that we turn down invitations to go see a movie even though our friend or family member wants to do this with us and it makes us look unfriendly. It may mean that our children don’t participate in various children’s groups, and that our children have fewer social activities. It may mean setting aside selfish desires, returning selfish purchases that we shouldn’t have made, reining our thoughts in to the captivity of Christ that we may think His thoughts and discard ours. It will definitely mean that daily we must immerse ourselves in the Word and spend time with those of like mind so that we can slowly but surely have that precious transformation in our minds. It is then that we may fit into the society of heaven, that society into which we ought to strive to belong.
Let us learn what the society of heaven is made up of – selflessness, a meek and quiet spirit, turning the other cheek, not easily provoked, all of those lovely traits we see in 1 Corinthians 13. Oh may you and I develop a love for that society in which angels dwell.
May we become allergic to the society of the world and its selfish "my way" mentality, and may our minds become quickened to discern the subtle sin in the messages we hear in movies and music, in school, in the store, and in the talk of friends and associates. May we reject the messages rather than adopting them and allowing them to make us into just another conformist.
Ellen White wrote in a letter to her niece that she should be "true to herself." This does not mean "follow your heart," but it means to realize our value in God’s sight, and not accept the lies and conforming messages of the world.
Tell yourself the truth today, and honor the value God has placed in you by living up to it.
The material for this article relies heavily on information from "The Spirit of the Music Industry: How One Man Transformed American Culture" from the series Media on the Brain by Scott Ritsema available at www.mediaonthebrain.net. Watch for an upcoming series by Scott on these issues produced by Amazing Discoveries.
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