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Spiritual Strength vs. Groupthink December 2, 2010

Posted by ekarlpierson in 20) Spiritual Strength vs. Groupthink.
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PARTICIPANT (LORI): Yeah. When I heard that you were asked to put on another talk, I tried to get my husband and friends to come here with me, but they don’t seem to have any interest at all. I’d really like the people around me to have the opportunity to hear this. I also think it would be nice to have some group support …daily support, outside of occasionally seeing the people in this group.

WW: Did you ever see the Star Trek series, the one with Captain Picard? I’m not a Trekkie, so I’m not sure about the name of the series.

PARTICIPANT: The Next Generation.

WW: I saw an episode where The Borg abducted Captain Picard. For those who are not familiar with The Borg, they were a group of cybernetically-enhanced humanoids who had mechanical or electronic implants which gave them unusual communication abilities with one another. The group also used the implants to maintain control over each individual. Essentially, there were no individuals.

The goal of The Borg was to assimilate individuals into the group and to assimilate the knowledge of that individual and share that information with the entire group. Their idea was that assimilation of more and more individuals would then make a continuously improved society. It was nearly impossible for one to see a way out of The Borg society. The Borg motto was “Resistance is futile.” With the use of their implants, every member of The Borg had the same knowledge and values. Any perception of an assimilated individual became the perception of the whole. The values of the whole became the values of the assimilated human or humanoid.

To make things worse, everyone became a mindless automaton, behaving like a programmed robot. There was no individual volition. Each assimilated humanoid exerted the will of the group.

This is a bit of an extreme example of groupthink, whereby individuals give up critical evaluation of ideas, events, or situations in exchange for group consensus. If we look closely however, we can see that groups right here on Earth are doing much the same, if not as extreme. We’ve been talking about the things people will do to find order. The Borg had extreme order. Being a group member is one of those things people do to find order. If everyone around a person shares ideas and values, it promises order, promises security, promises strength through group support.

I would assert that in practice it does not provide inner order, inner security, or inner strength. It turns the individual, in the case of the Star Trek episode, Captain Picard, into a non-individual. He became as the others, an automaton, a creature with no volition.

I’m going the long way around to answer you, Lori.

I’ve done a few covert operations here and there by attending meetings of a variety of groups. Years ago, I attended a Pentecostal church in one of my operations. Back then they were sometimes referred to as Holy Rollers. I think that name is no longer used. It’s quite the experience to see, firsthand, the way people go on. Everyone prayed the same prayer at the same cue, they sang the same song on cue, they stood up and waved their arms on cue, some cried on cue. Certain words or phrases would set them off as if The Borg had assimilated them all. One assimilated person would say a word and a whole gaggle of them would say the word. The individual gives up his volition for the will of the group. They become like The Borg, one for all and all for one.

Do you see where we’re going with this? On initial examination, it appears that the support of others would be of some benefit in providing personal strength. In practice it provides group strength, while making the individual weak. What do you think would happen if you went to the gym to work out with barbells and you brought your husband and friends with you to help you lift the weights?

LORI: I get it. The group support would take the weight off of me and not allow me to develop muscle power of my own.

WW: Pretty simple, huh? It’s not rocket science is it?

LORI: No. Now that you put it like that it makes perfect sense.

WW: I can give you a famous example of this is you like.

LORI: Please do.

WW: We all heard about Galileo and his telescope when we were school kids. We learned how the telescope was a contribution to science and technology. In school they may have even gone into the details of how it changed the perception that people of that age had of the solar system. When I learned of Galileo as a schoolboy, they didn’t tell us about his personal struggles and conviction.

At the time of Galileo, the educational system was run by the church and was steeped in tradition. They didn’t use critical evaluation, scientific methods. Using his telescope, he proved the Copernican theory that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of the solar system. To make a long story very short, although he was a very religious person, he pissed off the Pope by asserting that the official view was incorrect. Since Galileo was famous, he wasn’t sent to prison, but he was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life and ordered to not teach the Copernican theory. By the way, the Vatican didn’t officially absolve Galileo of any wrongdoing until 1992.

So, what does this have to do with our subject? Galileo had very little support among his peers and he was condemned by the educational officials of his time. Conversely to the story of The Borg, since he was able to resist, he didn’t do anything to strengthen the group, the educational system of the time. The fact that he bucked the system and had no group support meant that he had to work all the harder to prove that his observations were indeed correct. It meant that he gained the personal power of conviction because he stood virtually alone. Had he simply read about the Copernican theory and then walked off without making personal observations, he would have been only a footnote in history. With virtually no one but a few mathematicians to corroborate his observations, he had to lift his weights alone. The well-educated people who believed in or taught the theory that Earth was the center of the universe were weak because they stood on what they were told to believe, instead of using their own observations; they simply memorized ideas. They were assimilated into convention, into The Borg.

Back to our point. I’ve seen people who built their house from straw, the straw of the group, the straw of an adopted ideology, rather than the bricks of serious observation. I came along like the big bad wolf and blew the house down, leaving them literally trembling. If you want support, find an ideological organization in which you can be assimilated. Become a lemming, a weak lemming. I don’t see Lori doing that.

It’s best for those who study this teaching to go it alone for extended periods of time. If they really do the work, things will begin to appear to them. They won’t really be alone.

PARTICIPANT: How about clubs or orders like the Masons or Moose? Don’t you think some of those are worthwhile?

WW: I like the Elks. I had a lady friend whose uncle was an Elks member. We were able to go there with him on special occasions when they’d hire a country-western dance band. They also had a great buffet. They also had a great bar. Yeah, I like the Elks.