Why People Don’t undersand whatever they don’t understand, part six

12. Helping people. This has many advantages but can (and often is, usually unawares) used to prevent discussion and understanding. I’ll just give a couple of examples.

For example, our culture has a code of conversational — someone told me yesterday, “civil discourse.” If we try to explain something using civil discourse, we must use the required words. Everyone who knows the right words is more than happy to help the outsider to learn them. The required words come from within the culture and therefore cannot be used to explain concepts that are outside the culture – certainly, for example, there is no way to discuss the destructive nature of competition in our culture, without offending large numbers of people. We can discuss all we want, but people won’t listen unless we yell. Just as nobody really listens if you say thank you – only if you don’t. If we don’t use the right words (if we yell) we are in the out-group because that is not civil discourse. People in the in-group don’t really listen to people in the out-group. Unless they are rich. If we do yell, the in-person won’t hear what we are trying to say, only the fact that we are yelling, and will kindly come and help us to learn how to use civil discourse. But the only way we can catch their attention in the first place is to yell, and that automatically labels us as out. Catch 22. Efforts at honest, helpful communication, whether they are skillful or clumsy, are labeled unkind rather than listened to, and all the people in both groups spend a great deal of energy trying to figure out what was meant by what was said. That, basically, is why it Pema Chodron, for example, said: “Honesty is very important,” when she was talking about helpful use of words.

Or of course there is the option of becoming the anti-corposystem arm of the corposystem that uses the same belief system to attack and denounce itself, the corposystem. The correct discourse in that group IS to yell, and the louder and more irrational the yelling the more likely they are to win the competition for money and success from the people who already believe in whatever they are yelling about. But they will by definition be in the out group, whether right or wrong, if they don’t use “civil discourse,” and if their ideas come from outside the in and out groups they will not be understood.

I tried both methods yesterday. Neither one worked for me; both worked for the corposystem. To maintain its rigid belief system. You too can do little experiments like this. Set a really small goal and try to win, just to see what works. Ask a lot of people how to succeed. Try all the methods and watch how all the methods channel your money and your behaviors toward reinforcing the corposystem.

The same sort of thing happens in advertising and politics and all charitable endeavors.

Or try another example. The doctor is the good-guy, by definition. The corposystem trains these doctors, by the way, and sends out pretty little girl salesmen to keep them abreast of modern “science.” (It’s technology really.) And the pill – the corposystem pill – is the savior. Pills usually help if they are used for what they are intended, but if they should happen to make us feel worse, we get other pills to cure the first pills. By the time we die, we may well be incapacitated by pills on top of pills on top of etc., because if we aren’t normal the corposystem will move heaven and earth trying to make us normal, beginning with not believing our own reality experiences, and charging $$$ at every step of the way. The corposystem is the source of all good things and the doctor is the good guy and something is wrong with us. If we would try to actually HELP the people – just like trying to help students — they won’t like it. Being human, we do have a strong impulse to help, but to affirm this instinct we must “help” in a way that is defined by the corposystem (growth, for example, is highly encouraged though it is not sustainable.) So if we really want to help, we would have to tell the people some things they don’t want to listen to. But – look. The system is saying if you are not normal there is something wrong with you, and what is wrong is that you don’t believe in the system. I say good for you. The truth shall make you free.

13. We don’t care as long as we can believe we are the good guys. We don’t even care about things like our destruction of other people’s food supplies, or the bombing of Libya for no legal reason — as long as we can believe we are better than the other people. We believe only in good guys and bad guys and victims, but not in people. The winners are the good guys everyone else is not. We compete, we win; we are the good guys. If we feel a twinge, we give something to someone who is a loser.


We are afraid of them, we hate them, and we will kill them, but we will not listen or ask questions because that would be too difficult. We will teach them about money and about how to speak properly, and what to believe, over and over and over and over – until 18 year olds are ready to kindly explain “how it works” to 80-year-olds who already know more about how it works than the children ever will, because we tried it. We tried it all – every little gimmick that was supposed to turn us into a winner, and it didn’t work because everyone-a-winner does not serve we the people. It serves the corposystem. Some of us understand that, and we are trying to do something that will work. And what will work has been known for millennia. It’s the old, old story that only needs to be updated with newly understood facts, and then we can use our unique human brains and our unique human ability to discuss issues — to sort out the problems that inevitably arise during constructive change.

So while we continue to believe we are helping, because we have an inborn human need to do that, the fact is that what we are helping is the corposystem. And the corposystem is using our inborn human compassion to turn the wheels of its greed. And while the wheels turn, NOBODY is allowed to badmouth anything that someone else believes to be compassionate. Compassion allows for no discussion. We are “either for it or against it.” And of course if we are against it we are the bad guys and no discussion is possible.

And the tragedy is that it is nobody’s fault. It’s our social contract, learning layered over the instinct of a social animal. The tragedy is that both learning and contracts can be changed in a species that has a brain like ours, and our beautiful language skills, but most of us aren’t even trying to do that. We have organized our society so that every generation must begin all over again at the beginning without benefit of studying the mistakes made by previous generations, so that our brain and our language become more or less useless or even, lately, harmful to our survival as a species.

The tragedy is that learning is fun, and discussion is the very essence of humanity, but we can’t learn or discuss so long as we are afraid of each other and cling to the guidance of the corposystem that was created to understand only winning, defined by money, and is propagating us for its own short-term profits.