by Robert Moon, Ph.D.
September 21, 2008
Historically, most governments required citizens/subjects to have the same religion or belief-system (e.a. Fascism and communism ) as the ruler(s). Exceptions were seldom tolerated. Those who publicly practiced an alternate belief system to the ruler(s) were often intimidated, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and martyred. In the discussion that follows paradigms typically used by governments attempting to control freedom of conscience are referred to as: the Gold Rule Paradigm (GRP), the Gatekeeper Paradigm (GP), and the Over Stimulation – Fantasy Paradigm (OS-FP).
The founding fathers of the United States had first-hand experience with totalitarian systems which attempted to control every aspect of life including personal beliefs. They recognize that without accountability, human nature could not be trusted. This significantly influences the structure of the Bill of Rights and Constitution. These documents have helped protect inalienable rights, including freedom of conscience in a way that creatively balances individual and community needs. This was accomplished by requiring accountability of those in charge via a balance of powers between the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary.
The historical problem of unaccountable human power is eloquently articulated in the following quote.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men . . . There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. (Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian. . .’. Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 5 Apr 1887)
Increased knowledge with increased technology has brought mechanisms for control that would be the envy of every historical despot. Understanding the Gold Rule, Gatekeeper, and Over Stimulation – Fantasy paradigms can help one recognize how sophisticated political systems are attempting to control freedom of conscience.
Gold Rule Paradigm (GRP)
There are numerous historical examples demonstrating that usually “he who has the gold rules.” The general meaning of this saying is that he who has/controls that which is of value to a community, rules. The type of assets that make it possible to rule depends upon circumstances. For example, during a famine important assets of control include food and water rights. Assets also can fund sophisticated police and military systems to carry out the ruler(s) ambitions.
Before there were nations a patriarch or chief controlled/owned the assets of the clan or tribe. Being a member of the small community depended upon accepting the authority of the one, who owned/controlled the assets. Failure to accept the directives of the leader could result in exile from the community or death. Other historical examples of the GRP include: slave owners and slaves; landowners and sharecroppers; industrial magnets who control workers “who owned their souls to the company store”; medieval rulers and surfs, kings and subjects, party leader(s) and common people; etc..
Communism’s philosophy places party leaders (the rulers and controllers of assets) and common people on economic equality. The communistic ideal “from each according to their ability and to each according to their need” has never become a reality. What has been exhibited with ruthless brutality is Lord Acton’s observation that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Tyrannical leaders/rulers are not limited to communism. Ruthless control of citizens has been observed in fascist dictators, Pharaohs, Eastern emperors with various titles, medieval feudal monarchs and landowners, Moslem mullahs, etc..
The Gold Rule Paradigm does have a people-control flaw. The flaw is that some people are willing to risk life because of their strong convictions to live by freedom of conscience and follow what they believe to be truth. Their actions are often supported by firm beliefs in both NATURAL RIGHTS and an afterlife. Rulers most often attempt to remedy this flaw by combining the Gold Rule Paradigm with the Gatekeeper Paradigm.
The Gatekeeper Paradigm (GP)
The Gatekeeper Paradigm occurs when people believe that other, specially endowed, individuals hold the keys that determined whether someone’s afterlife will be a heaven or hell. When the controllers/owners of assets, the rulers, are perceived to hold the keys to an afterlife of heaven and eternal bliss or hell and eternal suffering their ability to control others is greatly magnified.
The dual role of the asset controller/owner and gatekeepers to heaven and hell has been declared by many ruthless rulers. Such despots intimidate freedom of conscience through the fear of what will happen both in this life and the afterlife. Pharaohs, emperors by various titles, medieval ruler-bishop, Moslem mullahs etc. conveyed that they were closely connected to the God(s) with divine authority to rule civilly and spiritually. The pharaohs, various kings and some Roman emperors attempted to convey that they were part human and part God.
Who could dare argue if they believed in a divinely appointed this-life/after-life ruler combo? Only those with strong spiritual convictions based on a belief system where there is/are no human gatekeeper(s) between them and God. Such is the case with Protestant Christians who believe that scripture teaches the priesthood of all believers. This doctrine declares that a Christian approaches God only through their heavenly high priest, Jesus the Christ, without going through an earthly priest or other types of gatekeepers.
The Over Stimulation – Fantasy Paradigm (OS-FP)
A third paradigm historically used to help control “the common people” is the Over Stimulation – Fantasy Paradigm (OS-FP). Ostentatious exhibits of grandeur combined with fantasy have historically been used as control mechanisms. Exotic dances with loud powerful rhythms have been used in combination with fantasies about demons and gods to help induce altered mental states. The use of war dances in combination with mind-altering drugs has been used to enhance fantasies of invincibility. Some ancient religions had exotic ceremonies involving sexual promiscuity including temple prostitutes. Others promoted fantasy that children must be sacrificed to appease the gods. Walking on red hot coals, laying on beds nails, or carrying objects with hooks attached in various parts of the body with little or no pain occur in various religious ceremonies today.
Many citizens of our country are diverted from clear perceptions and insights by the Over Stimulation – Fantasy Paradigm. This paradigm is implemented via digital media: television, music, TV computer games, and the Internet. It is supported by devices that make digital media instantaneously available to a person anywhere at any time. The devices include iPods, enhanced cell phones with Internet and media display capabilities, small DVD players, various gaming devices etc..
A review of the materials that occupy most of the digital media shows a predominance of very stimulating violence, sex, and magic coupled with unrealistic fantasies. Statistics imply that the average child, adolescent, or adult spend more time with digital media than a person working a full-time job. The highest instances of violence pre viewing time occur in children’s cartoons which often promote toys where children can use play to reinforce violent mythical fantasies of the cartoons. Pornography is rampant on the Internet and in other forms of media.
The result of being bombarded with over stimulating and unrealistic fantasies is a mind-numbing-mental-state that:
(1) impairs critical thinking, vigilance, and attitudes of sacrifice so important to preserving our fundamental freedoms
(2) increases susceptibility to irresponsible and false, product or political advertising
(3) rationalizes unnecessary debt by making wants seem like needs
(4) helps individuals justify self-centered me-always-first (narcissistic) priorities even when these are detrimental to family and community
(5) motivates meeting unrealistic pleasure fantasies through unhealthy eating, thrill-seeking, and excessive and/or perverse sexual behaviors.
Individuals functioning with such impaired behaviors are very susceptible to losing fundamental freedoms to those seeking unrestricted power and control. They’ll do almost anything, including giving up fundamental freedoms, if they perceive it will help them achieve their fantasy driven desires. For some their obsessive-compulsive behaviors are so extreme that it resembles those with diagnosed pathological addictions.
Preserving Freedom of Conscience for Future Generations
The GRP, GP, and OS-FP paradigms have been used throughout the ages to control people by inhibiting the exercise of conscientious convictions. This triad continues to be used in our contemporary world as means of control, including attempts to legislate uniform morality. One fantasy perpetuated by the triad is the myth of trading freedom for security. An examination of history demonstrates when people accept this trade they lose both personal security and freedoms.
The founding fathers of America had keen historical perspectives which included a general distrust of human nature, especially of rulers. Their response included a unique constitution based upon the concept of inalienable human rights. The Constitution was intended to create a balance of powers between the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. The hope was that this would bring accountability to leaders via the checks and balances included in the balance of powers and the rule of law. The strength of this approach was demonstrated in circumstances surrounding the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
America‘s approach of a balance of powers and rule by law is currently being tested again and again. Will habeas corpus continue to be protected? A recent, five to four, Supreme Court decision (Boumediene v. Bush 553 U.S.___(2008)) gives us hope. However, a change in aging justices could jeopardize similar future outcomes.
What will be the outcome of the financial bailouts that appear to put government into the ownership of billions of dollars of questionable mortgages? If the legislation is passed as proposed it will prevent intervention through the courts. This will circumvent the traditional “balance of powers” accountability! Could this lead to new ways for politicians/rulers to control citizens? Will this contribute to citizens giving up freedoms with the hope of security that comes from the belief that government will do whatever is necessary to meet their needs (wants)? Will it contribute to a trend toward Unitarianism where citizens will be expected think and act the way that those in control believe they should? What is happening to “We the People?” – “We the People” are in danger of losing fundamental freedoms and inalienable human rights!
America needs to develop many more responsible citizens with strong ethical priorities – People who think critically, People who are vigilant, People who will risk and sacrifice to maintain our fundamental freedoms. This needs to be a national priority if “We the People” are to maintain our inalienable human rights and precious historical freedoms. Copyright by Robert Moon – September 21, 2008