Directly, indirectly, consciously, subconsciously, countries are founded by informed individuals and what they believe to be true.
An idea, like a belief, or a lie, comes to us on the back of thought, thought that is coloured by feelings, the emotional references we absorb from living in the world.
If we’re feeling hemmed in at a gathering, for example, we might think of a way to escape, come up with an idea and make our excuses.
We know a person with greater wealth won’t necessarily be happier than us, yet we’re encouraged to believe they are.
From the moment we land on this shore, we become increasingly curious in the how, what, where and why… soaking up our surroundings, learning on the go, taking a cue from our parents, siblings, a kindly aunt, a wicked uncle, our carer… her pain, their pleasure, his fears, their joy, sadness, anger and so on… from gauging the mood swings, picking out what matters, what doesn’t, in the ongoing drama, traversing their likes and dislikes, his ideals, her hopes… a recipe for life is established.
We may be applauded, ignored, other times scolded… but like everything that sticks, the belief that we are inferior, mediocre, or superior, is just that… a belief… a mass of thoughts, shaped and conditioned by experience.
A possible idea leans on us, until we adopt the thoughts, then build, correlate and fix them in space, often as something tangible, a complex assembly, that we might sacrifice our life for if it proves necessary.
Countries, Counties, boroughs, states, villages, towns, are built on the back of beliefs, ideals, dreams, ideas… and the backlog of blood sweat and tears; the internal shadow that only reveals its form when light is cast across that which shapes it.
A BBC documentary, Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, no doubt made to justify our naval heritage, draws out, with detailed precision, right down to the last frame, the tenure at the heart of our imperial might. With pinpoint clarity we’re told how we came to rule another’s turf, how profits from slavery fuelled the Agricultural and Industrial Revolution and set the stage for financial institutions and the body of commerce, as they are served up throughout the occident today.
Our hard-won wealth, our part in global and social domination is taken for granted, a god given birthright. Giddy with power, we created a kingdom over which we preside, a smart and masterful system… masquerading some serious insecurity.
With Britannia’s ferocious appetite established, the tale ends as it began, at sea… our sovereign isle guarded and locked, as it has been for centuries, behind a vault of naval supremacy, a pivotal part of one of the most powerful and prolific defence systems in the modern world.
Having stamped our claim, with the cutlass, swing blade, the cannon and gun, we British certainly rebuked, maimed, sanctioned and killed the inhabitants, for the tenure and spoils of their respective lands.
These unholy truths, smacked down far away, began where they end in hearth and home.
In the seat of power, working all God’s hours to remain at the top, is the main person, with a heart like thee, a brain open to heaven and hell… a person who see themselves as headed enough to preside over the regime; self-serving, influential and affluent enough to remain in control… a leader who is locked in, yet unfettered, by the minions carrying the weight far below. At their discretion, they tap out the terms, a little extra given for birthdays, a magnanimous gesture, a fair and generous bonus for putting in the legwork over the winter break.
All bodes well… until the key goes missing and the trooper denies the claim.
When the good intentions backfire, humiliation and annihilation drive those at the peak, in the basement, and somewhere in-between, back to a toxic wasteland of loss and fear, where the only weapon left is bittersweet revenge, driven by an enforced rage and total mistrust for the other.
Nurtured in our backyards, endemic in our homes, the loss and protection of undoubted bounty, dictates the need to beat off friends, neighbours, and every other person in the street, if they pose a threat.
We shaped the law to suit a fair and democratic society, all for our benefit, then pity those who fall victim to our judicious constraints, never once considering that we might be complicit in their fall.
Flipped over from the day we’re born, encouraged, or punished, by well-meaning elders… terrified of not making the grade in school… tested, divided and streamed, according to worth… the consistent need to hit the bulls-eye in a career… straddled to a material horse, the senses overwhelmed, the fear, the head noise, our own petard, blows out the crown of stars, along with its throne of clay and leaves us dead in the water.
The furniture may have changed, our lifestyle too, but as minions growing up to the rousing beat of a partisan drum, are we not tied to the same set of principles that enticed our forefathers to beat the track to the front line?
Keep them ignorant… they’ll fall in line.
In the early nineteen fifties, with echoes of a world at war in clear ear shot and light of the British Empire setting on the next generation to come, Britain needed an uncompromised workforce, to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and continue paying off the national debt; from the Napoleonic Wars through to the Second World War, the debt had increased tenfold. This generation needed to be labour intensive, zapped in tight, for the monumental task ahead; and what better way to sort this than through a system that divided children between brains and brawn.
A masterclass in deliverance, as it was from the beginning… eliminate us, or bring us to heel like a well trained dog.
On failing the Eleven Plus, an exam born of the 1944 Education Act, you were marked down as labour intensive and palmed off to a ‘secondary modern school’. The majority of children were engineered for a vocation of a physical nature – the factory floor, farming the land, shipbuilding, steelworks, street-cleaning, mining coal and so on – an occupation needed to keep the dyeing embers of our imperial state stoked and ready to rise again. The authorities had done their job to the letter.
In post-war Briton ‘secondary modern schools’ deliberately steered away from providing GCE O Levels and gave no access to GCE A Levels; there was never any thought that you might graduate to a university. If you were marked out as reasonably bright, yet still categorised within that corporal bracket, perhaps you upped a rung, proud to take to the beat in the police force, join a typing pool, enlist in the armed forces, or manage an apprenticeship in one of the building trades.
Blind man’s bluff, says follow my leader to the fall.
At the psychologist’s behest, millions and millions of us, were led to believe we were genetically inept, second class citizens, at best, good with our hands and born to oblige.
Serving your country and collecting a pocket-watch bonus, at the end of days, from a company you’d stood by through thick and thin, was the undisputed purpose of life. Mum and dad made certain their offspring got the message loud and clear… daily beatings underlined a constant barking of ‘you’ve never had it so good, get out of the house, in line and get a job!’ Encouraging and supporting this avid message, our school policies deliberately dictating the taxonomies of the day, dished out further penalties and thrashings, making sure the juniors were well and truly in their place.
From five years of age to a school leaving age of sixteen, that’s eleven years – some 15,400 hours (a conservative estimate); with the inclusion of further education and parental intervention it adds up. A lot of time for a child to be coerced, pushed, convinced and conditioned, into believing they are what the elders want/need them to be – a long time to be indoctrinated by a stone cold, innate, truth!
The curve of a curriculum, assumes we inherit an intelligence that is basically fixed and unchangeable.
And on it goes…
The continuum of a dog eats dog philosophy, drilled into the back boiler of our psyche during those formative years, becomes as real as the blood that runs in our veins in the adult years. Racing toward the exit, the adult to be carries the baton forward, handing it on, so the next in line can toe the line.
Despite unflinching superiority, cultured one-upmanship, unleashed deceit, racism, bigotry, war, genocide, civil unrest… to say nothing of a climate that’s in crisis and invisible viruses that turn our supremacy to dust, no matter how big our arsenal… the backbone of our beliefs, our self-serving sway, remains resolute; as if our past and present actions have no ramifications for the future.
Lucky, if you stumble upon an enlightened teacher, or your mum and dad are wise enough to pull you to heart, otherwise there seems to be nothing else left to do but salute the union, or run.
The doer is done, rule maker, ruled… a human being, overwhelmed by the human doing… at home or away, left, or right, junior, senior, private, or public, this prize, that car, those clothes, that house, my phone, I phone, this image, our culture, my way or the highway… we’ve been duped… sold a set of principles… accidentally on purpose… lobbied, swayed, by habit, as in addiction, to the politic, to the cake, to the news, a concept, the badge, through school, a regime, the corporation, an institution, the media; a country that goes way back and out of its way, to keep us hooked, manipulated, separated, categorised and ready, to fill the shoes of the next body of pawns in a game!
Drowned out by the rising tide of chauvinism, at the heart of an elite domain, in turmoil, contemplating a dark and terrible fear! A declaration that pinpoints an insoluble problem. That is, unless he wakes up, like the prisoner who turns time to an advantage, takes another altogether different route and begins the work.