NATHAN PILDIS — Staff Writer
“God Bless America!” We see this phrase everywhere, but what does it mean? Does God actually favor the United States? Slogans like these inspire strong feelings of patriotism, while at the same time exerting incalculable psychological control upon us, the citizens of the United States. In order to see how, let’s first discuss the concept of perception.
Each of us views the world differently. You may see a situation one way, but I may see it another. You may see green, but I see blue. It is a matter of perception, and neither of us is “wrong.” In a sense, each of us is wearing a pair of glasses that skews reality one way or another.
Our perception of reality is often not “ours,” per say, but is more like the views that have been given to us and, at the time, and accepted as true. If these views remain unchallenged, they will continue to dictate the way we see the world.
The way we view the world is determined by our patterns of thinking, which are largely a result of our conditioning. These thought patterns were ingrained in our psyches when we were still developing a sense of the world outside of ourselves.
As children, what our parents told us became law. We took their opinions about the world to be fact. They may have told you that something was dangerous, so from then on you have feared that thing, not realizing it was only their perception that was being passed down, not fact. In a sense, they were passing down their shade of glasses to you. In the case of our parents, this is done unintentionally and with our best interest in mind.
But there are forces that intentionally mold our view of reality and do so not for our own best interest, but for theirs. I’m talking about the government. Not just the U.S. government, but all governments. Governments skew its peoples’ perception of reality deliberately to maintain and expand power.
For example, it has been a common theme for governments to rule under “divine authority.” Under divine authority, its people are manipulated to see the actions of the state as morally permissible no matter what. After all, if God agrees with the government’s course of action, how could anyone disagree? If I do disagree with that action, I am also in disagreement with God: the highest judge of moral character. And who am I to question the will of God?
From the theocracies of the Byzantine Empire to modern-day North Korea, where citizens were led to believe that Kim Jong Il was God-incarnate, the theme of divine authority is common around the world.
The U.S. also rules under divine authority, but does so covertly. From first grade until 12th, our perception of reality was slowly molded. In every homeroom, we put our hand across our heart and pledged allegiance, under God, to the flag of the United States of America. This same flag is painted on the side of drone aircraft that drop bombs in faraway places.
According to official U.S. documents made available through Wikileaks, there have been 66,081 civilian deaths in Iraq between January 2004 and December 2009. This includes 36,344 women and children. This is over five times the number of students currently enrolled at SCSU. Under the unconscious assumption of divine authority, much of the nation saw the U.S. as morally justified in this operation.
Is this freedom and justice for all? We turned residential neighborhoods into war-zones; schools into piles of brick. Through what kind of glasses do the citizens of Iraq now view us? But we have pledged allegiance, so to think in opposition to the actions of the U.S. is therefore a betrayal of yourself and to God. Or so we have been lead to believe.
Do you think God cares about some imaginary lines drawn across creation? Regardless of country or origin, we all yearn for love and happiness. We all breathe the same air. Our hearts pump the same 5.5 liters of blood. Black, white or anywhere in between, our DNA is 99 percent identical. We are the human family.
Within each of us is the courage to grow beyond our conditioned belief system. I urge you not to be angry about the way it is. Just be aware. Take control over the glasses through which you perceive the world.
Above all else, take the opportunity to inspire a sense of community and oneness with your brothers and sisters of humanity. Your actions will inspire others.
As the future leaders of this country, it is up to us to determine the course it will take. Will we bomb the planet silly in the name of freedom and justice? Or will we come together as the family that we are? The choice is ours.