The Art of Conditioning

Now that there is a general election in the UK, I am watching people debate, or should I say argue, listening to their point and how they defend it. I am really trying to understand how they have reached that decision.

One thing I have noticed is how conditioned people are by the messages they receive, in the media, talking to friends and the jobs they do or have done. What I find is that people who have worked in armed forces and to a lesser extent, the police, are conditioned in a way that is to follow authority blindly. That is useful if you are part of a fighting unit where discipline is critical, being told what to do and when is part of your every day job.
I get that.

How that translates to civvy life is what I interests me. I find that the majority of those will follow the most authoritarian route, whichever one seems to fit their black and white life in the services. There is a rule book, an expectation where this behaviour is demanded, anything less is unacceptable and will be punished. It’s a clear existence for those serving and makes it easy for them whilst in the job.

Once they are in civvy street, it’s completely different. There is chaos, shades of grey and is not like it is in their work life. They have to make sense of it, see the way through and the media comes through to tell them exactly what to think of whatever chaos is going, putting the message in, so it’s easy to vilify large swathes of society as being  ‘The Problem’.

Their compliance has been created and carries on in every day life for them, with sometimes the most extreme measures being supported as necessary because they’ve seen it. One conversation I had with someone was around the Christmas market bombing in Berlin and his solution was to put a few rounds through the windscreen, that would stop them, meaning that we’d have armed services at every market, street corner or gathering of people just in case. My response was that we build squares to stop that particular type of attack, like companies do to stop their premises being ram raided buy concrete and steel pillars erected in the ground. Apparently I didn’t know what I was talking about.

And that’s the problem in every day life for everyone. We have stopped listening, stopped discussing rationally and defend our answer to the death, to the point where reason leaves us. If all we have is a hammer, then everything is a nail and this metaphor covers the approach most have to a situation, regardless of how extreme or how inhumane that may be.

We have lost humanity in the bid to be right.

Our politics in the west are now politics of division and heading into territory of hate. Just mention immigrants in social media, watch the eruption in response. Usually, it takes the form of soundbites in the mainstream media; the pressure on services, the strain on the NHS, our schools at breaking point, the welfare system. Forget that we have fewer police, nurses and schools in the past seven years as part of austerity measures, where the debt has doubled. We begin to see a truer picture of the problem.

We are conditioned to ignore the deceit and focus on what we are told to discuss, then fight to the death on that narrow point, which acts as a distraction from what’s really going on in the world. Tribalism is only useful to others and we want to belong as people, it’s in our DNA, that desire to be part of the group to survive. Compliance is good for survival, except when we are complying with people whose motives are not for our benefit.

All I would love is people to stop and think what effect the policies of others have on themselves as well as those less fortunate, maybe not able to help themselves. Instead, we give consent to those who only have their own tribe’s welfare and profit at heart.

Hopefully the tide is turning and we can get back some humanity that is clearly lacking in our society.


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