That term, mind control brings to mind about as many images as there are people on the planet; it means different things to different people, but it is, I believe, the ultimate struggle that each of us wrestle with our entire lives.
Our mind, our intellect, and yes, our egos are the result of an evolutionary process that seems to be unique to our branch of the primate tree and to all life as we know it on this earth. For whatever reason, our brain evolved a multitude of functions and capabilities unlike any other animal that we are aware of. And, along with that, we seem to have lost other abilities that many of our animal cousins still possess. Did we lose them, or was it simply that with the growth and complexity of our new brains that we no longer needed those older elements and instincts?
I'll leave the pursuit of knowledge about our evolution in terms of our brain to the researchers and scientists who have both the education and the time to delve into the topic. What I want to discuss is the programming of our brains as we travel the road of life.
Yes, programming; we are programmed beginning at a very early age and we continue to be programmed and attempt at reprogramming us are not stop through most of our lives. Some of the programs come from outside our minds and some of it is self-imposed.
There are studies that indicate we begin hearing and sensing things while we're still in the womb. I suspect that degree of learning is somewhat limited. First of all, in the womb, you are pretty much consumed with the process of development from a mass of cells to a fully formed little critter with a functioning brain. There's a reason why this all takes place in the womb and not on the kitchen table; we need some privacy and certainly protection during this growth period.
So that my words are not abused or misused, let me hasten to add that this has nothing to do with a woman's right to choose whether or not to be an incubator for what will eventually become a viable being. I am pro-choice and nothing I am saying here is to be misconstrued to argue against that position. Someday, as will undoubtedly happen, we will be able to create a human outside a woman's womb.
That process, just as it happens in a womb today, will initially be a collection of cells with the potential of becoming a viable being, but for a considerable period of time as it lies in a Petri dish, or glass bubble, or whatever medium is used to allow those cells to divide and grow, it is not a vialble lifeform. Early in that process, as things may go wrong, and they will just as they do in a womb, a decision will have to be made whether or not to allow those cells to evolve into a partially functioning human or not.
Enough of that. Back to our collection of cells that now has a brain capable of hearing and sensing at least some information. As the article above indicates, our little brain has the ability to hear words outside the womb and remember those words. Since we can't see yet, we can't associate those words with images, but the words are stored in our brains along with other sounds we may have heard, a barking dog, the doorbell, a sneeze or a cough.
You may have heard or read that playing classical music to an infant in the womb can increase their intelligence. This article suggest there is no scientific foundation for this claim. That doesn't mean the music isn't heard, and that it may well affect the devlopment of the infants brain, but such proof would require a significan number of babies in the womb, preferrably all identical to avoid other mitigating factors, and then a controlled study of playing Mozart for some and not others. Until we have those babies lined up in the labratory, all created equal throght DNA engineering, we're unlikely to know the answer to this question.
This preamble, while a bit long, is meant to get us thinking about mind control. As I stated at the beginning, this is a lifelong struggle for all of us, starting from the time we pop out of the womb until we are popped into a casket, oven, or whatever our end process of choice might be.
We begin in a somewhat controlled environment, at home with our parents and perhaps siblings. This is where we start learning most of what will define us as adults. We eat the family food, laugh at the family's humor, listen to the family's favorite music, smell the family smells, and begin to adopt the family beliefs and prejudices. We are somewhat insulated from the ideas and culture of outsiders. Unless, our parent(s) work and we end up in daycare. Now we are also being programmed by the daycare worker(s) with their particular beliefs, likes, and dislikes. That adds a layer of complexity to our personalities and beliefs.
Near the end of this first phase, we are off to kindergarten or to pre-school. Suddenly, we are surrounded by other little wobblers and babblers, all of whom are walking around in a very different cloud of "norms"; what they like, don't like, etc. resulting from the family they came from. That can quickly bring about conflicts of interests as well as learning about how other people think, eat, and feel about the world as a whole. This is our first real challenge of mind control. We were perfectly happy with what we were taught in that first five years, but now some of that is being challenged by new ideas.
We may go home after school and tell mommy or daddy about something another child said, did, or ate. Chances are, mommy or daddy will blow that off with an explanation we don't understand. Or, they may, depending on the topic, get quite aggitated and explain that we don't behave, think, or eat like that in our family. In that case, they have just introduced the concept of discrimination to our little minds. We have just labeled another persons likes or dislikes and even their family as good or bad.
For many of us, at some point in our early development, religion enters the scene. This is yet another effort at controlling our minds and how we think. Each religion has its own values, traditions, and culture and they work hard to indoctrinate their followers in that direction. This can cause a lot of conflict. Let's say your best friend in school is from a Jewish family and you are from a Catholic family. While it's not certain, there is a good chance you will begin to hear how different the Christians and the Jews are and all that that implies.
This process continues as we move through life and it becomes exponentially more complex and intense. Moving through grade school and on to high school and college, we are exposed to hundreds or thousands of new ideas, beliefs, and cultures, all of which we feel a need to classify based on our own values.
Once out of school and into the workplace, we are confronted by more efforts to control how we think. Company rules and norms are presented and we are expected to conform under the threat of losing our jobs. Our ego is challenged. We may be highly motivated to succeed, one of the values taught by our family, and even though we don't agree with the company values completely, we conform in order to satisfy our need to succeed, thereby satisfying our ego.
This is not to say that all or any company cultures are wrong. On the contrary, I think many of them are a good thing and provide us with tools that will benefit us through our lives. Ideas like embracing quality, working as a team, and working toward a consensus are all valuable social tools that apply outside of work as well.
At some point, and this starts with your family's values, you begin to adopt a political point of view. There is no shortage of politicians, friends, and family willing to guide you in your thinking. They will use emotional arguments, economic arguments, and social and tribal arguments to entice you to their point of view. Again, this is a battle for your mind, how you think and how your perceive others.
Marriage is yet another mine field full of potential problems for our way of thinking. Two people from two very different families come together. They have a diverse set of values based to a large extent on their family values; they like different foods, music, color of clothes, styles, etc. These two people are now challenged to blend these two cultures into one homogenous new family culture that will be passed on to their children should the choose to have children. This is often a lifelong process of give and take, compromise, and no small amount of frustration. Each person in the relationship is literally battling for control of the other's mind in terms of values.
If we chose to have children, now these children will go out into the world and bring home the ideas of other families and their likes and dislikes and we have to deal with that. We are now in a battle for control of our children's minds.
We often ask the question, "What is life all about?" The answer to that lies in part to what animal group you were born into.
For the lion and lioness and their cubs, it is learning to be the top predator on the Savannah. For the gazelle, it's understanding that the lion is the top predator and learning the techniques for avoiding the lion and continuing on with life. For a bird, it's how to fly, find food, and avoid predators. The fish, how to swim, find food, and avoid predators. Most of the animal kingdom follows a pattern like that; you're either a predator or the prey, and each of those requires skills that will help you survive.
We humans, having evolved as the top predator and for the most part without having to worry about being the prey, our battle has become one of controlling our minds versus letting others control our thoughts and minds. Early in life, what your parents and the adults helping you develop are trying to do is give you what they see as the skills of survival, much as the lioness does with her cubs. They are trying, not always successfully since they may have not had the right influences in their young lives, to give you the tools to not only survive, but to thrive.
Some final thoughts. Along this path of life, some people will want the best for us in their attempts to shape our minds and others will do so in a selfish and self-serving way. Those operating on a self-serving level are generally promoting themselves, not you. They are trying to improve their personal lot in life and sometimes at your expense or at least using you and after your usefulness is over, they will disappear from your life.
We have to look beyond what sounds good, or promises us something that is probably not deliverable. We have to use our minds and our intellect to sort the good advice from the bad advice and in the process, remain in control of our minds and the values that we know are positive and that produce good, not harm. The meaning of life for humans seems to me to be the challenge of maintaining control of our minds and not giving that over to an outside party, no matter how good they make it sound.
I think and write and talk and then do it all over again.