We Want to Believe

About a month ago, I started a new job helping out at a local high school. I work with teachers who have to wrangle huge numbers of kids. Growing up, I had a reverent opinion of teachers: they were important figures who knew far more than I did, and their knowledge and authority were to be respected without question. Now that I’ve gone behind the scenes and tinkered with their tools, I’ve realized something else.

These people don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

They’re barely keeping things together. Organization is minimal, and buck-passing is common. They talk a big show to keep the students in line, but they don’t have any real power beyond vague, abstract threats. Nevertheless, the kids cower from the dreaded “referral,” and inevitably submit.

Now, I’m not saying this to knock teachers, nor to praise the rebellious nature of teenagers. I’m saying it because seeing the truth of the situation, and extrapolating it to the macrocosm of society, led me to a revelation: no one knows what the hell they’re doing. Not our parents, not the government, not even the faceless black shape we grimly refer to as “the corporations.”

Why do you think corporations pour so much money into lobbying for laws that benefit them? To hoard gold and power in their greedy quest to dominate humankind? Doesn’t that sound a little silly? They may be giant businesses that exist to turn a profit, but that doesn’t make them Sauron, Dark Lord of Mordor. No, they don’t lobby to harvest riches from the middle class; they do it because they’re terrified of losing everything. Remember what happened in 2008? A handful of morons made some dumb decisions, and the whole system nearly collapsed like a house of cards. Some of the biggest banks in the world, perfect representatives of the “evil moneychangers” we despise but won’t stand up to, broke under the strain. If you knew that you could lose all your money because of some idiot’s bad behavior, wouldn’t you try to protect yourself, too?

When Bill Clinton got grilled over the whole Monica Lewinsky thing, people got pretty pissed at him. It was adultery, it was deceit, it was illicit, dirty sex. Behavior far below what we expected from the leader of our country.


Bill Clinton is just a man, and men get horny. They cheat, they lie, they sleep around. Commonality shouldn’t excuse such behavior, but it also shouldn’t make it shocking. So why were so many people so upset? If someone lives in the White House, that makes him or her a saint? Why did we load such unrealistic expectations on some dope from Arkansas?

Fake crises are bad enough when it comes to public weirdness, but once you get to real, nation-shaking events, things go absolutely batshit. When John F. Kennedy was shot, and the World Trade Center towers were annihilated, conspiracies cropped up everywhere. There was no way that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. It didn’t make sense that terrorists could overtake planes with box cutters. The towers couldn’t possibly have fallen because of burning jet fuel. It goes against everything we’ve been taught. Such chaos simply cannot happen in the world we live in. Clearly there were Other, Darker forces at work. Right?

I don’t like to instantly trust official stories, but come on. We’re talking comic book super-villainy here. People whisper about Satanist celebrities and cabals of arcane cultists without the slightest bit of irony. They honestly don’t realize how ridiculous they sound. The outlandish idea that the Jews and the Illuminati are building and destroying lives at will somehow seems more plausible to them than what is far more likely: that the people we put in charge fell asleep at the wheel.

Look at what happened on 9/11. Look close. What you’ll see is the repetition of a perfectly normal human response: freezing up at the prospect of getting caught in a mistake.

How many times has your boss entrusted you with an important task that you went on to fuck up? How did you feel about it?Weren’t you desperate to correct the matter before anyone else found out, or at least to hide it until you could sneak away?

“Well, yeah,” you might say, “but that’s just my stupid little job. I’m nobody. These guys have real responsibilities. They’re supposed to have things in hand.”


Get real: the more responsibility one has, the more hesitant one will be to admit that one dropped the ball. And that’s what happened on 9/11. In that case, the ball dropped very quickly, and fell on all of us. But hey, if you don’t keep an eye on the guys in the cockpit, then you have to accept that sooner or later you’re going to crash.

You think this country is easy to keep a grip on? With all the information and knowledge flying around these days? Folks complain about the government getting bigger, piling on the bureaus and filling in the committees, but this is only happening because our world is growing so fast, our hapless leaders can’t get their arms around it. They might as well try to keep an angry bear in a half-nelson; without increasing efforts, that sucker is going to break free.

Very few people are comfortable with this notion. It’s hard to accept the idea that the high kings above are just stumbling in the dark like the rest of us. It’s much more comfortable to put our faith in the guy with the slick suit and white teeth, even after he’s demonstrated, on multiple occasions, that he’s not worthy of it. We believe, with a fervor that borders on fanaticism, that the confident man must have everything under control, because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Our society thrives on false idolatry, the veneration of the televised. People like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, Lebron James, Sofia Vergara, and Taylor Swift are held up and presented as gods, and we buy into it like rubes. Our own lives and experiences are played down as dull and insignificant, while all the excitement we hear about only seems to happen to “everyone else.” So we relinquish our power to institutions and symbols, beg for their scraps of money and property and credit, and willfully make ourselves theirs to play with, to reward and to punish, to herd and to slaughter.

It’s a lot easier than understanding that not one of these people is better than anyone else, and that each of us is responsible for his or her own fate.

Now, I realize that I’ve written about some outlandish things here. Spirit guides, God, machine elves, and such. The difference between myself and the idol-worshippers is that I don’t claim to know the truth about these entities, nor do I put much faith in them. A mighty force may have created this universe, but that doesn’t mean It has any kind of plan. For all I know, It’s dancing us into creation because It doesn’t know what else to do. Despite all the evidence I have that spiritual guidance occurs, I remain skeptical, even of my own theories. My chief complaint here is that too few people are willing to examine themselves, to explore their consciousness, to consider their experiences, to recognize themselves as reality, and the idols as illusory. If an individual must break away from society to remain sane, what amazing things could happen if we all became individuals?


Author: lisvender

Writer and animator in Central California.

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