18/05/2010

ARE YOU A SHEEP? Or are you being YOURSELF?!

Don't get me wrong - I love sheep. But not when they are pretending to be humans!!  


It was brought to my attention again very recently how un-human many humans are! I came off my bike, and was lying by the side of the road, wondering if I had broken anything. It was here in the hills where I live, and there was no-one around to help me - until a car came along... and passed... the passenger, a metre away, looking through the window, pointing at me, and laughing!


I would say that "I couldn't believe it", but the fact is, I wasn't all that surprised.... something very similar happened to me years ago in London - but that time I was in a busy street, surrounded by literally hundreds of people, and again, not a single person so much as asked if I was ok...



Why is it that people are so uncaring about each other?
I believe that there are many reasons - for example, sometimes people are really in a hurry, caught up in their problems, stressed. But I think that the main reason is that many people are afraid. Afraid of being seen - of being visible. Afraid of being heard. Afraid of what might happen in this unexpected, unusual, extra-ordinary encounter with a stranger. The fact is that many people have become like sheep. Fearful, and ready to do only what they are told.

At the Nuremberg trials, as we all know, the German officers and soldiers responsible for mass murder and genocide stated that they were simply
"following orders".


I see that many people today are still perfectly happy to follow orders, even if those orders are apparently against what they believe in. For example, recently on French television, an experiment was carried out:
In the documentary, contestants thought they were in a 'reality t.v. show'. They were told by the T.V. presenter (played by an actor) to electrocute someone for giving wrong answers. The person being 'electrocuted' was also an actor, but the 'contestants' didn't know this. And guess what? They were prepared to follow these directions, even to the point where the person being electrocuted could be killed. Actually, this experiment was a replica of a famous scientific research conducted by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s - in which the results were the same.


The times have changed, but human behaviour has not. To me, this shows the extent to which we allow others to take our power from us - if someone is in a position of apparent authority - whether they are a politician, a doctor, or a television presenter! - we are often all too happy to give our power to them.


But there is another side to this. We are not only prepared to follow orders. We are UNPREPARED to act on our own initiative. So many people are so brainwashed by television; advertising; and our education system ( which really educates people how not to think for themselves ) that they actually don't know how to think for themselves. If they are not told what to do, they tend to do nothing. The great philosopher Bertrand Russell once said:
"Most people would rather die than think. In fact, they do so!"


Of course, we all go through the normal day to day activities, but anything out of the ordinary presents many people with a difficult challenge. So when they come across the unusual situation, for example, of a man at the side of the road underneath a bicycle, they simply point and laugh nervously! I wrote recently about FREEDOM, and how we are often unable to react spontaneously because we are so conditioned by our prejudices, fears, and ideas about the world around us. But I have realised that there is something else which limits people's freedom in a more fundamental way: this inability to act without being encouraged; given permission; or even being ordered, to do so.


If you came across a person at the side of the road, under a bicycle, would you stop to help? If you were on a carefully organised t.v. show, with a charismatic and powerful presenter who gradually told you to increase the amount of electricity with which you were torturing another fellow contestant, would you?  


Do you have your own voice, with which you are free and unafraid to share your thoughts, opinions, and feelings with other like-minded people? If the answer is YES to any or all of these questions then leave a comment, and let us all know!

6 comments:

Svasti said...

Hi Ben,

To me, this sort of non-caring response (which can be found in most parts of the world) is related to the seperation between head and heart. Most people live in their heads, and society encourages that sort of behaviour.

It is also true that our in-built fight or flight response tends to make us want to stay away from anything that's potentially risky. BUT if the heart and mind are connected, then the heart opens (as I'm sure you know). Once the heart is open, it's just not possible to look the other way when someone is hurt.

As for myself, I help anyone I can. With whatever they need. :)

Ben Ralston said...

Hello Svasti,
Nice to have contact from you again... thank you for your comment!
I agree fully about people being in their heads. It's an unnatural state of being that makes people - ironically - unthinking. Actually, it's unfeeling, but thoughts need feelings to give them weight, to give them meaning. So while someone is stuck in their head they just don't really know what to do - so they do nothing. Hence what I wrote in the article. Hence also your experience of crying out for help and no-one coming.
Yes when the heart opens, a new world is born. Those of us who experience that can never look back; or away! And that's why often our trauma is also our saving grace... as i think you have experienced, from what I read on your blog.
With love, Ben

Anonymous said...

I am posting this article on Facebook, as I believe it will open some eyes. Thank you.

:)

K.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago I was in a waiting room at a doctor's office. I was one of the furthest people away from the entrance to the exam rooms in the back, closest to the exit. There were about ten people in the room waiting, a mix of men and women. An elderly lady in a wheel chair was trying to get through the door to where the exam rooms were, the nurse was holding the door from the inside and the wheel chair was hung up on the hinge. All that needed to happen was for someone to push the door open a little further, the nurse was unable to do so from where she was standing and the elderly lady was also unable to do so because of her position. I looked around at all the people IGNORING this situation. I got up, walked across the room, walked past at least eight people, four of them men and simply pushed the door open a little bit more and the nurse was able to pull the chair through the door. The nurse said loudly - thank you! I said loudy back - you are welcome! As I made my way back to my seat, the heads of the adults hung low, their eyes darted and avoided my icy stares at them, noses shoved in magazines. I did mutter 'assholes' loud enough for them to hear - but really the lesson here is that those people WILL remember that. They will remember what it was like to see someone stand up and DO something when something needs to be done - and next time, they will be the ones to stand up - at least that is my hope.

Ben Ralston said...

Thank you K.

And Anon - I believe they will remember. Because in future the memory of being ashamed in that room will be strong, and will help them to make the right decision.
Remember though that you have also probably behaved as they did, once, perhaps long ago. I know that I did. So try not to judge them too badly... we all make mistakes.
With love, Ben

Eggressive said...

+1
well said Ben!

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