This archived article was written by: Chris Kiahtipes
There is a war going on. It shames the war on terror. It belittles the Vietnam war. It overshadows both of the World Wars. Not only has this war reached the soil of the United States, but it has reached the soil of her brother and sister nations, be they friend or foe. It is the war against the creative mind.
John Steinbeck wrote, “a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system” (East of Eden p.132). The words “love it or leave it” come to mind. Free, creative thinking is a perpetual threat to the herd mentality. It is the free thinking individual that pushes forward the boundaries and degrees of truth. It is the individual that makes any nation, religion, or society great or terrible.
Steinbeck also wrote, “the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repression, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a suicidal course our species seems to have taken” (East of Eden p.132). The marshaled forces are governments, religions and industry.
Let us start with governments. The Nazi party of Germany pursued the extermination of the Jews and anyone who would defend them. A wave of nationalism and herd mentality led to the loss of millions of innocent lives. The world stood by and let their own be slaughtered. The Jews lost their rights one by one until their very lives were taken from them. They were different. They were choosing to do things differently and prospering for it. They were targeted for extermination solely because the machine that was the Nazi party could not tolerate diversity and the challenges of the creative minds of the day (Dietrich Bonehoffer, for example).
Of course, that was more than fifty years ago. Let us talk about today. The U.S. government is debating an amendment to the Constitution that will deny the homosexuals that she governs the right to be married. What is the next step? Will they be required to wear rainbow colored armbands? Will they be confined to a certain area and eventually exterminated? The U.S. was quick to attack the nation of Iraq because of the supposed threat that Iraq posed to the world (maybe those pesky weapons of mass destruction are hiding in Israel). Will the U.S. now attack itself for the threat that it poses to its own citizens?
Now, before anyone gets all huffy, this article is not about homosexuality or war. It is about the herd mentality that refuses to accept that which is different or challenging. The goal is simply to point out in what ways governments currently are attempting to weed out the right of the individual to choose, and thus furthering the war on the creative mind. The U.S. is simultaneously denying Iraq the right to compose their own constitution using Islamic values and denying homosexuals the right to be married based upon Christian values. In both cases, the individual’s right to choose is being ignored in favor of the government’s desire for power and authority.
At this point it is appropriate to cover the second force that wages a continual war against the creative mind, religion. If Steinbeck is correct in his resolution that systematic and patterned thinking is antagonistic toward the creative mind, then religion is an obvious threat. It would do the reader well to note that spirituality is as personal, individual and creative as anything can be. Noting inspires creativity and art quite like an experience of the “divine madness”, to use the words of Madeline L’engle. True spirituality is at enmity with the forces of dogma and religion.
While government would hope to be the slave-driver over creativity, religion is its executioner. Examples of such executionary actions include the religious wars of the Middle East. Catholics and Protestants still war with each other in Ireland. It is also curious that the U.S. government and the Christian church would be so in touch with each other’s desire to crush the challenges that homosexuality presents.
The casualties of religious bigotry include artists, thinkers, teachers and peasants alike. These casualties include martyrs like Christ, the “witches” of Salem, the everyday people slaughtered in the Crusades and the victims of the “Mountain Meadow Massacre.” However, the casualties are also nonfatal. Community is one of the first victims of such bigotry. It is much easier to condemn and judge a person without knowing them if they are labeled and stacked into neat piles.
How much blood was spilled in the name of colonialism and capitalism? How many children are robbed of childhood to produce insignificant toys and trinkets for the wealthy? How many suffocate in the economic stranglehold of the West? The people’s demands for fairness in the workplace have only been met by the relocation of industry to peripheral nations that will work for far less pay.
The only thing more evil than vice is the illusion of virtue. The conditioning of governments, the opiate of religion and the oppression of industry mask themselves with charity and courage while they rape the peoples of this world. What kind of mechanical thinking kills the people of a nation and then offers their orphans toys in return? What kind of soulless pusher gives starving nations worthless gifts for a holiday that they are ignorant of? What kind of monster uses up the resources of a nation and offers nothing in return?
The U.S. missiles that pummeled Baghdad did not know the difference between friend and foe. The cluster bombs that were dropped by the Army favored no one. However, one might witness a U.S. soldier heading a charity to give toys to the children of Iraq on the news at night.
Many religious “charities” sent Christmas gifts to the poor and starving in the lesser nations of the world despite the fact that those nations and peoples are more concerned with their next meal than what damnation lies on the other side of eternity. It seems that it is the right of the righteous to add the weight of guilt to the burden of poverty.
The islands of the Greater Antilles are left desolate and used up in the wake of tourism and trade. Those island-nations receive nothing but bitterness in return for the rape of their natural beauty.
The war on the human mind is not a war between conservatism and liberalism. It is not a war of Islam and Christianity. It is not a battle of doctrines, philosophies and politics. This great war for the human mind is a war of choice. It is a war for the right to choose and create as one wishes. It is a war over the human ability to doubt and question anything that is worth having. It is a war against oppression and ignorance.
It is true that the free human mind can do wrong. It can rape, murder, steal and build religions and governments that do the same. However, the is no potential for good if there is no possibility of evil. If the human species was just another animal, it would have disappeared by now. It is creativity, carried out through the human ability to chose, that makes humanity more than a system of action and reaction. The ability to chose is what gives mankind the depth, tragedy and beauty of art.
So why write this? Why spend the time, energy, and ink telling the good students of CEU about the war against their right to chose? The goal of this article is to ignite a revolt against all that would take away our freedom. It is time to remind the government that it exists only by the will and consent of the people. It is time to speak, listen and vote. It is time to remind the church (whatever church that may be) how puny it is when compared to the scope and depth of the divinity that lies within all people. It is time to remind industry that money means nothing without a soul to enjoy its pleasures.
Steinbeck puts it best, “this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I would fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts.”