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.

Why People Don’t Understand whatever they don’t understand, part five

10. Teaching. The ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher was told she would have to charge for ESL lessons or the students “wouldn’t appreciate it.” Riiiiigggghhht. It is usually necessary to speak English to get a job in this town, the students need a job to feed their children — and she believes they aren’t going to appreciate it? What world is she living in? Our world. A world where only rich people count and everything is measured by money.

And what will be the result? The students may or may not learn English, but they are certain to learn that Americans only care about money or about who is winning, and that is measured by money. And they, the students, will have to do whatever it takes to be a winner if they want to be accepted in our culture.

I thought I was quite restrained in my response to that idea. I said: “I disagree.” I didn’t hear anyone ask me why. In fact, I don’t think anyone ever asked me why the Peach Clubhouse. Not, that is not true. Two people specifically asked me what it is about. I had a hard time answering and it set me thinking; that’s a good thing. Otherwise anyone who cared must have just assumed that I believe what they believe, in spite of everything I have written (see number three above), they believe that I believe in the validity of our toxic culture.

So – everyone who participates IS alone in this culture of competition. We CAN’T listen to anyone else or even to our own deepest human gifts — and still be a winner in our culture. It’s our prime directive. It’s the price we pay.

11. Science. Have you noticed that the corposystem has all the scientists working for itself? Good jobs, too. Not like the jobs they give to most of us. The corposystem will jump at the chance to use good science to make money. And then it turns around to the public, the voters, and bad-mouths good science and prevents the media from showing good science and attacks it in the schools, even at college level. You probably are a product of this kind of education, so it will be difficult for you to understand the point. What we are teaching is about people – not about science. We are teaching nature study and social sciences (including religion and anthropology, physiology, anatomy) – all of which is homo-centric, and we are even trying to re-interpret physics on PBS. We are teaching that humans are at the center of the universe, and it simply is not true. And then the corposystem uses the uninformed opinions of the students/general public to silence the scientists by teaching the students that all opinions are equal. Nonsense. All opinions are not equal. See number 8 above (or below if you are reading this on the blog).

And the scientist is taught: “Don’t bother trying to explain it to them, they can’t understand it anyhow.” That’s an actual quote from an actual third-grade teacher years ago in South Carolina. Not about science, though, about “niggers.” Same phenomenon.

So at the same time the corporations are using good science to make money – pills and weapons and the like – they are brainwashing the public to hate both science and scientists — just watch how everyone treats me if I admit that I am a scientist — and chasing the scientists into the laboratory where they are safe from propaganda. And it’s working. We now have teachers who have been taught bad science, most (I am told) of our science graduate students are drawn from other countries where the information has not died, and the next generation of our home-bred teachers will not understand or believe in real science if the corposystem continues to induce the school systems to teach the corpo-curriculum.

And yet, without understanding how things work, we cannot have clean air and water, good rich earth, and food.