Carol A. Hand
You may call me an idealist
You may see me as a fool
But I’ll just never understand
Why some folks seem to need to be cruel
“We’re just following orders”
You often hear them say
Or “it’s not in my job description”
So just get out of my way
“Everybody’s doing it”
“We’ve always done it this way”
So many lame excuses
For making some else’s life difficult today
What would Krishnamurti say?
Drawing: Carol A. Hand
“… Society is always trying to control, to shape, to mould the thinking of the young. From the moment you are born and begin to receive impressions, your father and mother are constantly telling you what to do and what not to do, what to believe and what not to believe; you are told that there is God, or that there is no God but the State and that some dictator is its prophet. From childhood these things are poured into you, which means your mind – which is very young, impressionable, inquisitive, curious to know, wanting to find out – is gradually being encased, conditioned, shaped so that you will fit into the pattern of a particular society and not be a revolutionary. Since the habit of patterned thinking has already been established in you, even if you do “revolt” it is within the pattern. It is like prisoners revolting in order to have better food, more conveniences – but always within the prison….
“You see, all reformers – it does not matter who they are – are merely concerned with bettering the conditions within the prison. They never tell you not to conform, they never say, “Break through the walls of tradition and authority, shake off the conditioning that holds the mind.” And that is real education: not merely to require you to pass examinations for which you have crammed up, or write out something you have learnt by heart, but to help you see the walls of this prison in which the mind is held….
“Freedom lies outside the walls, outside the pattern of society; but to be free of the pattern you have to understand the whole content of it, which is to understand your mind. It is the mind that has created the present civilization, this tradition-bound culture or society and, without understanding your own mind, merely to revolt as a communist, a socialist, this or that, has very little meaning. That is why it is very important to have self-knowledge, to be aware of all your activities, your thoughts and feelings; and this is education, is it not? Because when you are fully aware of yourself your mind becomes sensitive, very alert.” (Krishnamurti, 1964, pp. 84-85)
These are just some reflections about people who appear to enjoy enforcing arbitrary socially-constructed policies that make others’ lives less pleasant, or even place them in harm’s way. This post was inspired by a visit to a friend in the elders’ apartment building across the street. During our visit, she shared an important concern. The management is unwilling to address elevator doors that don’t stay open long enough for elders with walkers or canes to enter and exit safely. Instead, they issued the following new policy:
No matter how many times elders press the button for a new elevator, the doors will still make exit and entry unsafe!
How do we escape the “walls of programming” that imprison us all?
Krishnamurti (1964). Think on these things. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.
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