The Value of Discernment

"For those who stubbornly seek freedom around the world, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the propaganda system to which we are subjected and in which all too often we serve as unwilling or unwitting instruments.”
–– Noam Chomsky, linguist and educator

Should U.S. troops be deployed to fight in Ukraine? (Joe Biden recently mobilized 3,000 more troops and sent them to Europe.) Are “domestic terrorists” a threat to our democracy? Should the US send troops and ships to defend Taiwan in case of an attack by China?

Hermann Goering, head of the Nazi Luftwaffe and Hitler’s designated successor, once said at the Nuremburg Trials,”

Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Sound familiar? Anyone who does not support Ukraine in its war against evil Russia is deemed unpatriotic, even though many of the crack Ukrainian troops are members of the Azov battalion, who wear Nazi symbols on their unis. And, of course, a nice percentage of the $200 billion that supposedly went to Ukraine actually went into the pockets of U.S. arms manufacturers.

Contrary opinions about Ukraine are not acceptable to those without discernment. Believe, or you are a fascist.

It is easy to get people excited and disturbed, merely by creating a problem and offering a solution that always keeps attention focused on the desired result. In the climate change crisis, it’s fossil fuels vs. solar and wind. In politics, it’s Democrat vs. Republican, or Left vs. Right. Humanity has been taught to take sides. “Where do YOU stand?” is the question we are asked, and fence–sitting is not admired, for it smacks of indecision or even cowardice.

Thus is nuanced thinking discouraged. Thus is discernment discouraged.

Taking sides polarizes opinions and hardens attitudes, creating conflict and separation between and within human populations.

Discernment is the ability to recognize subtleties in thought and action. A discerning person is aware and intelligent. Those without discernment push narratives and insist you believe them, unquestioned. You might be asked, for example, “Are trans women real women?” or, “Do you believe in God?” There are only two answers to those questions, yes or no, placing you at one extreme or the other regardless of how you answer. But a brighter person might respond, “Why do you ask?” or “How do you define God?” or “What is your definition of a woman?” These questions, which require thoughtful responses, are difficult to answer for those trapped in either-or thinking within false dichotomies.

Either–Or thinking seems to excite the emotions. If you’ve ever gotten into a religious or political debate, you know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, emotion usually obscures reason and inhibits tolerance of other points of view.

The arena of politics is especially susceptible to polarized thinking. Politicians are required to tell us whether they would “send more money to Ukraine,” or whether they are “pro-life or pro-abortion.” The media does not want to hear nuanced arguments on any of the issues. National elections are framed in these simplistic, lowest–common–denominator terms. If you have ever seen one of the ridiculous, moderated presidential “debates” you have seen that just a couple of minutes are allowed for replies, making a nuanced response impossible.

How do crises and polarized thinking become perpetuated? Through repetition.

It is accepted practice among propagandists (and marketers!) that a message will not get through unless it is repeated over and over. In fact, the dark actor Joseph Goebbels, Nazi minister of propaganda, once said

“[propaganda is] a carefully built up erection of statements, which whether true or false can be made to undermine quite rigidly held ideas and to construct new ones that will take their place. It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. What after all are a square and a circle? They are mere words and words can be molded until they clothe ideas in disguise.”

Why is it so important to take either–or positions on issues? To those who are interested in manipulating opinion, it is irrelevant (for example) whether Russia or Ukraine wins the war. Both sides serve the intended purpose, which is the crisis and the money to made from it. (And the next crisis, and the next one, and the next one.) Once Communism collapsed in Russia, for example, terrorism became the next big global crisis. Once the Saddam Hussein straw–man was destroyed, the debate became the crisis between the Sunni and the Shiite in Iraq. Once the pandemic of 2020 was finally over, talk immediately went to the next global pandemic. The list of crises is practically endless, but people with discernment can sift through the bullshit and, as the Who said in one of their tunes, “not get fooled again.”

How do you determine whether an issue is defined by a false dichotomy? Observe how the issue is framed. If you are told that disaster will result if you do not see an issue in the presented manner, or, if you are encouraged to fight or resist something, then more than likely, someone has an agenda and is trying to convince you to follow it.

Sane and reasonable people welcome differing opinions, because well–intentioned people want to SOLVE the problem, not perpetuate it.

The materialist dialectic of created crises is just a way to confuse and obfuscate through polarization. Nuanced thinking requires the ability to see and understand other points of view.

A discerning person is difficult to indoctrinate; for he or she does not fall for the presented simplistic and polarizing dichotomy. He or she is capable of moving deeper into the question, and transcending the limiting and polarizing “conflict of opposites.”

A crisis can only exist when there are two opposing sides, continually clashing together. Nuanced thinking allows both “sides” to create new solutions that are at a higher vibration than the crisis, transcending the problem and dissolving it. Thus is propaganda defeated by mindful thinking.

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