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 Blooming Stars

Programming, Deprogramming and Reprogramming of the World – 5

            In an earlier article I mentioned how the world was heavily programmed, and how I was heavily programmed. We truly are the product of own culture, religion, circumstances, and milieu. We have few choices about how we are brought up. We do what we are told. We follow the instructions of our parents, teachers, and religious leaders, and civic institutions while growing up. They decide what is good for us. They even select the mate that we are going to live with our whole life in an arranged marriage, say, in India. Unfortunately some persons will never have a life of their own. If we conform to the unspoken but strong norm, we will be considered to be good. If we disagree or act differently, we will be considered to be rebellious and bad.

            Acceptance, approval, and consequences for behaviors are very powerful factors in programming persons, shaping behaviors, and keeping members of a society or group in line. Consequences of behaviors consist, especially in various forms of behavior therapy that is very much in vogue in the USA, in scheduling, withholding, or denying appropriate and effective reinforcements for desired behaviors. When Edward VIII, the openly racist, playboy king of England and emperor of India and an admirer of Hitler, who wanted to have the cake and eat it too, decided to marry a twice divorced American Wallis Simpson, he did not conform, and he was forced to abdicate for the woman he loved. Interestingly his utter contempt for other human beings, especially non-white races would have been tolerated by the British who honor virtue by paying homage to hypocrisy according to a wisecrack, but not his marriage.

            Not only was he not welcome in his own country but he had to spend the rest of his life away from his family of origin in France in disgrace. In the Middle Ages or earlier years or even now in certain communities life will be in peril if one goes against the dictates of certain clans. Honor killings are still very much in the news. With dire and life threatening consequences, persons have no choice but to conform if they want to be alive. What a world?! Many legitimate freedoms have been won at the expense of untold suffering, sacrifices, and innumerable lives. With more and more persons willing to pay the price for their freedom and rights, societies and the world at large are changing; and slow deprogramming and reprogramming or adjustments to new conditions are taking place.

            Around and after my ordination to the priesthood I realized my thinking and views were drastically changing. I knew I was a slow revolutionary. I was good at coping skills and survival strategies. I was opportunistic in that I lay low when my religious superiors were conservative and not in favor of my progressive views; I thrived when there was a change of superiors who could empathize or even resonate with my views. In one retreat I took time to subject everything physical, mental, and spiritual, specifically my habits of eating and drinking, my attire, my thinking and my views, my treatment of others, and my spirit-life, to meticulous scrutiny. I wanted to make sure that I was not a slave to any habit. Nothing was sacrosanct that was not in the purview of my examination.


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