Societal Programming & Early Indoctrination

This essay is a part of The Druid Path, a 12 part curriculum designed to teach the fundamentals of Reformed Druidism.

Lesson 2: Societal Programming &
Early Indoctrination

by El Arseneau

*indoctrination: to fill with beliefs (e.g., This is the way it is.); brainwashing. The beliefs that you hold, whether deliberately chosen or indoctrinated, create a model for interpreting and structuring reality. This model is sometimes called a personal reality paradigm. In Druidism, we usually just call it your viewpoint. If you want to take a very broad look at consciousness, you will discover that it consists of viewpoint and some attendant ability to reason (meaning to observe, integrate, predict and act).

One of the remarkable things that you discover in the Reform is that as you change your viewpoint, the attendant ability to reason changes as well.
Viewpoint determines how you see the world and how you see yourself. Not liking something is a viewpoint. Even when you feel your opinion is on rock-solid ground, there is still this little suspicion that maybe someone else might feel differently. (Of course, you are right, and they are wrong.)
Protecting a viewpoint is a refusal to see something in a certain way. Have you ever heard someone say, “Everyone’s entitled to his or her own viewpoint,” or “I’m not going to change my viewpoint just because you disagree?” Yes, these are viewpoints too – fixed viewpoints. When people lock themselves into certain viewpoints, they lock themselves out of other viewpoints. As they limit how they are willing to look at something, they also limit their ability to observe, integrate, predict and act. Their ability to relate to others is limited. Their ability to handle life is limited. Their ability to cope with change is limited. The beliefs that you hold, whether deliberately chosen or indoctrinated, create a model for Interpreting and structuring reality.  Sometimes a little thing, like showing someone how to deliberately change their viewpoint without being struck dumb on the spot, can produce a remarkable recovery of his or her zest for life. Problems disappear and opportunities reappear. It’s a simple act that has metaphysical consequences. How much choice did you have over selecting your current viewpoint? Probably not as much as you should have had. That is one of the first things that Druidism sets about fixing. It restores your choice. It allows you to test drive different points of view without having to buy any of them. You may notice that after testing several points of view, there are one or two that you come back to just because you find them interesting
and like the way they feel. Invariably, the viewpoints you settle into after a broad exploration are more flexible, responsible and compassionate than any indoctrinated viewpoint that was ever shoved off on you, whether from gangsters in the ‘hood or the local deacon.

Entertaining different viewpoints is what makes us civilized, and the more we entertain, the more tolerant and understanding is the viewpoint we choose to deliberately hang out in and view the world from.

How Did You Arrive At Your Viewpoint?

The lowest form of consciousness is instinct. Instinct has three basic concerns: Can I eat it? Will it eat me? Can I mate with it? The answers to these questions determine whether an organism will relate dominantly, submissively or indifferently. Dominance is not always a display of physical force. Sometimes it’s costuming, sometimes it’s voice control, sometimes it’s the display of an example. Sometimes it’s a paper diploma on the wall. It can take many forms. When a doctrine is taught from the attitude of dominance, the intention is to indoctrinate a viewpoint into the student. Indoctrinated viewpoints are often invisible to the being who is forced to wear them. Being invisible, they cannot be easily changed or removed,
and yet they determine how a being will reason. If this sounds like social brainwashing, you’re right.

Indoctrination is dominating someone with beliefs. It’s eating a mind. Some of you will find that your minds have been chewed like old bones. There are so many scars and patches that it’s a wonder that it works at all.

Have you been indoctrinated? Ask yourself these questions:
1) Do I always have to be clothed when around other people?
2) Is monogamy the “natural” orientation of humans?
3) Am I too (ugly, fat, imperfect) to allow others to see me naked?
4) Is nudity always sexual?
5) Is jealousy is a natural emotion, like love or hate?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, than you are the victim of social indoctrination.

Think about these alternate answers:
1) Do I always have to be clothed when around other people?
Only if the weather requires it.
2) Is monogamy the “natural” orientation of humans?
If this were true, you would still be with the first person you ever had sex with, the divorce rate would not be at 60(+)%.
3) Am I too (ugly, fat, imperfect) to allow others to see me naked?
The models that advertising and society have put forth as “beautiful” are unnatural, artificial models, designed to sell products. Nature is random, no two examples are ever exactly the same. If you believe you are beautiful than you are. What others think doesn’t matter.
4) Isn’t nudity always sexual?
If so. then why is it, in nudist camps, where children have been raised in that lifestyle, do teenage boys walk around without erections? If they had been indoctrinated normally, they not only would have erections, they would be hiding them. Nudity is considered sexual only because you have been trained to believe that from a very early age, and because society, and especially advertising, have reinforced that belief;
5) Is jealousy is a natural emotion, like love or hate?
Jealousy is a learned emotion. It derives mainly from selfishness, from a belief that “I own this. This belongs to me and no one else.” If someone acquires something that you believe belongs to you, then you become jealous. This is a lot more applicable to the idea of owning another human being. We no longer tolerate slavery, so why do we get jealous if someone we love chooses to love someone else? Because we were taught to
believe that way.

How do you feel about these alternative answers? Are you resistant to them, or have they caused you to question your assumptions?
(Note: most of the ideas above are Judeo-Christian attitudes, which permeate our society to a core level, where they have been accepted without question as to where they came from).

Indoctrinated viewpoints work for a short time, but as soon as the circumstances of the world change, as they always do, indoctrinated viewpoints become studies in stupidity and limitation. Sometimes indoctrinated viewpoints are held in place by painful emotions. It’s not always easy to let go of them, but until you do, they will narrow your appreciation and understanding of life. Outdated indoctrinations, confused with ideas of domination and submission, are the prime cause of human suffering. Teaching someone to be flexible in viewpoint and to reason from different angles is
always better for the person than indoctrinating them, always! It involves more work and greater patience, but in the end you will have a tolerant, compassionate being that can reason.

Chris: “Prejudice is a learned behavior, Maurice.”
Maurice: “So what?”
Chris: “So, it can be unlearned.”
– Dialogue from Northern Exposure: Seoul Mates

Unlocking Your Own Mind
The word doctrine refers to the beliefs that are laid down as true by an instructor or master. These are the fundamental beliefs of a subject. Most doctrines evolve through an interaction of viewpoints. One viewpoint says this is the way it is, and another viewpoint says that isn’t the way it is, and a third viewpoint extrapolates or synthesizes how it is and how it isn’t from the first two viewpoints. Of course, now a fourth viewpoint can come along and contradict the third viewpoint, and then a fifth viewpoint can extrapolate from the third and fourth viewpoints. Eventually, in a slow but natural process, a doctrine is arrived at that everyone can pretty much agree on. You could call this kind of doctrine a core concept doctrine, because it has been beaten out of the best ideas that any viewpoint could come up with.

Core concept doctrines usually express fundamental, agreed upon principles. There is a second kind of doctrine that you could call a declared doctrine. Someone in authority declares a belief-this is the way it is-and anyone who questions it is punished. The punishment may be as severe as death or something milder like embarrassment or humiliation. Rules and laws, for the most part, are declared doctrines. Declared doctrines are usually motivated by something other than arriving at truth. Indoctrination means to fill someone with doctrines. These doctrines are instructed in
such a way that they become the reference points for a person’s thinking. Military training is an obvious form of indoctrination. Advertising and state-supervised educations are less obvious indoctrinations. The goal of indoctrination is to structure someone’s consciousness in such a way that there are certain beliefs that the person is unwilling or unable to question. This is the way it is!

Many people, either deliberately or compulsively, try to indoctrinate each other with their ideas. Your parents did it to you; you do it to your children. Politics and big business do it to us all. We commonly call it influence or persuasion, but it is really a camouflaged attempt to rewire someone’s beliefs for another’s benefit. Indoctrination has the intention of making another accept information without examining it. Information is coupled with a threat of punishment if it is not accepted or occasionally, as in marketing, with the promise of a reward if it is accepted. The information that is
passed may be useful, harmful, or irrelevant. But because it is unexamined, it tends to unbalance a person’s rational thought processes.

You don’t really think with indoctrinated information; you think on it. It remains hidden as uninspected assumptions. The key to discovering your own indoctrinations is learning to observe what happens to you when you question your own assumptions. If you question a core concept doctrine it begins to get interesting. The reasoning behind it unfolds and you go, “Yeah, yeah.” It was transparent to you due to its obviousness. Now you see the logic of it, and it gets interesting. When you question indoctrinated information, you don’t get an interested, “Yeah, yeah.” Instead you feel an irritable, “Yeah, yeah,” – the way you feel when someone tells you for the third time something you already know. The information is transparent due to your unwillingness to question it. You might be willing to argue it, but not to question it. If you persist in questioning it, you become emotional and some part of your body may start to hurt. Indoctrinations are associated with pain and threats of punishment to prevent their being questioned. The more uncomfortable you feel about questioning something, the more likely that you are dealing with indoctrinated information. The emotion that arises from questioning indoctrinations fuels the intolerance in the world. If you wish to create an enlightened planetary civilization, you must become very good at the subtle art of bringing people to recognize and rethink their old indoctrinations. Unless you learn to do this with respect, the effect can be revolutionary instead of evolutionary. Generally, people do not like it when someone else tries to change their beliefs. But give them the tools to observe, think and predict, and they do just fine without any indoctrination.

Druidism is a good solution, perhaps the best so far. It safely and with a minimum of offense teaches people to recognize, experience and unravel their own indoctrinations. When they do, there is natural resurgence in the joy of life. They often describe the feeling as one of expansion – like “taking the blinders off” and seeing the “larger picture”. The opposite of indoctrination is awakening a person’s ability to deliberately experience different points of view without forming too many carved-in-rock conclusions. This single ability turns indoctrination back into a fluid awareness that can observe and think clearly. It is unlocking your own mind.