Jacob Woods

Jacob Woods
Jacob is gay. He eats, breathes, and sleeps lgbtqia issues. He is a sociology major currrently working to educate the simpletons. He attends college in the Twin Cities.

Friday, November 25

Black Friday - The Mindless Herd

This Thanksgiving I decided to fast. And I decided to do so for a couple of reasons. One being that I am broke. Well not broke broke, I have money, but don't want to spend it. I am saving for a trip to somewhere.

The real reason I decided to fast was to symbolize a solidarity between me and those who aren't as fortunate as myself to gorge their faces with more food than one could ever need to survive. The more I think about consumerism, the more the Holiday seasons disgust me. After pigging out, American consumers wait in line to fill the stores for Christmas shopping. And why might all of this be bad?

Perhaps my Freudian subconscious was attempting to tell me something last night. I dreamt that my nephew was being physically abused and there was nothing I could do to help him and secondly, I dreamed that America was at war and they were drenching masses of people in gasoline and lighting them on fire. I woke up scared, frightened, and miserable at about 5:30 am. That's when I started reading from Noam Chomsky's "Media Control", which might I add is a must read for anyone trying to understand the current state of America.

Chomsky argues how in order to control what Lippman calls the "Bewildered herd", you have to separate and impose scare tactics upon them much like sheep. People must be scared and frightened.
"The bewildered herd is a problem. We've got to prevent their roar and trampling. We've got to distract them. They should be watching the SuperBowl or sitcoms or violent movies. Every once in a while you call on them to chant meaningless slogans like, "Support our troops." You've got to keep them pretty scared, because unless they're properly scared and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think, which is very dangerous, because they're not competent to think. Therefore it's important to distract them and marginalize them." (Noam Chomsky, Media Control)
And nothing could be further from the truth, look at that image of the "Bewildered herd" at the top of this blog. Apparently shopping and consumerism, too, is part of these vacuous distractions that keep us away from the conversations Americans are not "competent" enough to have.

It's nice to have  words for it. Incompetence, ignorance, stupidity, less intelligent, asinine, vacuous. When my brother and sister in law sometimes say things that aggravate me, there's a name for it. I can in fact feel comfortable in my intellectual superiority, and move forward with my own life. This marginalization  has been very successful in cutting off conversations about more important matters. Take my post about the Salvation Army for example which sparked a terribly uncomfortable conversation with my sister in law.
"im sorry, but im going to donate to Salvation Army because the people that are getting their help do still need it. There are millions that go without food or shelter and have so many needs that if I can help them out in any way, I will. Im not going to say sorry kids, I wont help you out this holiday season because the charity helping you doesnt support the lgbt community - just because they dont support something that I might, doesnt mean they arent doing good. And as far as charity goes, people can give their money in any way they choose to."
The Salvation Army decides that they will spend their donations on only "sexually pure" individuals and they consider the lgbt community "sexually impure". Not only do they not give portions of their donations to the lgbt community, they actively spend their donations advocating against human rights. (Why you shouldn't donate to the Salvation Army)

It is so easy in this scenario to get angry and attack by belittling one's intelligence, so I had to stand back and say, where do you stand on this? Why is it wrong? If everyone needs this money, why isn't it good to give to the Salvation Army? Instead of getting angry with my sister in law, I reasoned through this.

Given that there are countless inclusive organizations that give the money donated to them to everyone who needs it, what is the purpose in donating to the Salvation Army which excludes the lgbt community and actively uses their donations for destroying human rights?

Today I realize that it isn't about answering these question or lgbt rights or human rights, but it is the simple fact that the discussion between my sister in law and I about this particular matter has been destroyed. And in order to fix that destroyed relationship, the thing we can comfortably do together is, watch the Super Bowl, watch sitcoms, go shopping, and stuff our faces full of comfort food. Because as Noam Chomsky points out:

"The rest of the population ought to be deprived of any form of organization, because organization just causes trouble. They ought to be alone in front of the TV and having drilled into their heads the message, which says, the only value in life is to have more commodities or live like that rich middle class family your watching and to have nice values like harmony and Americanism."

This leads me to what I wrote on Facebook after reading Chomsky this morning. And it makes for a nice little conclusion that shall leave you thinking about the true meaning of Christmas and the holidays.
"The problem with the concept that consumerism is the key to happiness is that sooner or later, people won't be able to buy their happiness. They will run out of money." 
-----Jacob Woods
More quotes from Noam Chomsky's "Media Control"


Anonymous said...

I like what you say, Jacob!
I hate pre-Christmas consumerism, and I enjoy Christmas even if I don't get any gifts - but I do want the fellowship with family and friends, and I do want to take part in a good Christmas church service.
By the way, there is an old Greek and Russian Orthodox tradition to fast during the Advent season, the weeks before Christmas.
Another thing: By deciding to keep or re-establish dialog, you have the chance to wake up some smart fellow human beings, including your sister-in-law. Good move!
For your Advent / pre-Christmas season I wish you that - well - you get everything you need, but especially that you always find time for yourself, and time to reflect.
Hope you can travel soon!
All the best!

Jacob Woods said...

Thanks Hans! So glad you are on board with all of this! The dialog is VERY important. And I know my brother and my sister in law love me as I am, I just sometimes have to teach them one thing at a time. I hope they don't think I am trying to hate on them or anything, that's not the point. I am just showing what is said to highlight hopefully, other people's mindsets and getting people to see beyond those mindsets. Hopefully it is working.

Super Sam said...

I see what you say about consumerism. I've always held the view that consumerism is the "soma" (from Huxley's Brave New World, although I haven't read the book) for the masses.

I grew up in 3rd world countries (adult third culture kid) and after returning home I always found consumerism a bit strange.

Jacob Woods said...

Oh soma, that and pills, so many pills, that man was a genius.

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