A B C – the basic building blocks of written expression. We all rely totally on such basic protocols, however clever we may be. Even if our use of the alphabet becomes sophisticated, we still rely on the basics of the A B C as true.
This also applies to our human psychology. To understand the A B C of our mental self awareness [meta-cognition], I suggest 3 critical factors.
All 3 aspects matter, all 3 interact, and all 3 must be addressed and consciously managed if we are to live as free, independent and responsible human beings. Resistance or negligence regarding the responsible management of our own minds, exposes us to the serious risks of dependency and manipulation.
Which is one reason why I promote Christianity.
Christianity addresses both the reality, and the responsible management of, our minds – the faculty of consciousness and thought [OED Concise version, 2011 edition].
To be responsible citizens in a civilised, free and open society, we must manage the welfare of our own minds.
The mind constantly processes the information coming at us everyday. Our mind reacts to the information in particular ways and filters it. Indeed our mind reflects the way we think back into the world about us. We need to be aware of that process and we need to be responsible about what is happening, how and why. I suggest therefore that we need to attend to these 3 critical aspects:
- Attitude – the focused and set mental state which we exhibit to others, ideas and events: love or hate; confidence or fear; positive or negative; rigid or adaptable
- Belief – the framework of ideas and thinking to which we subscribe consciously or unconsciously, and by which we assess the world – such beliefs can reflect a chosen systematic philosophy or mere simple prejudice
- Conditioning – the way in which we adapt or have been adapted to ideas, relationships and situations; we are learning creatures and our mindset reflects this: we can learn for the better or for the worse; the wise person understands this and takes control of their learned behaviour in a responsible way; the foolish person simply ignores it; and the evil person abuses it in order to manipulate and exploit other people.
Attitude concerns the mental posture I adopt towards others or situations.Love or hate; confidence or fear; positive or negative; rigid or adaptable; open or secretive
Attitude may be constant and unchanging but it can also evolve. My attitude towards my parents is consistent, as is also my attitude to my wife. But my attitude towards fighting wars has shifted from blind faith in my country to radical circumspection and doubt. My attitude has changed in view of the evidence of injustice and manipulation which I have witnessed over many decades now, combined with my faith in Christ. Belief and Conditioning [or learning] have impacted my attitude. The 3 essential elements I have identified – Attitude, Belief and Conditioning – have interacted, causing an evolution or development.
The Christian faith requires all Christians to set an example of Christ-like living. Christians are commanded to love their enemies, and never hit back. Christianity addresses Attitude: love, not hate. Surely that is the real revolution this world needs to see !
Organisations like the State also adopt an Attitude. Any such organisation inevitably has a framework of Beliefs. And those Beliefs will be propagated and reinforced via education and via cultural/religious norms and practice. Every State has such a Conditioning agenda: the question must therefore be, What Belief system does the State protect or promote – what philosophy of life does the State inculcate ?
The fundamental problem I observe in the formerly Christian nations is that the A B C process has been hijacked by a human centred, egalitarian Religion expressing and inculcating the Materialism of the Enlightenment.
As a result, we are now reaping an egocentric mentality – an extreme individualism whose Attitude is one of Intolerance toward any real and fundamental disagreement. In the name of rational individual liberty and rights, it has in fact spawned a psychology of intolerance towards real individual difference or disagreement. The attitude is at variance with the professed rationale of its philosophy. That Attitude has been framed by a particular Belief. And that Belief has necessitated a radical reinvention of perspective and objective in our laws, institutions, formal education and culture. It has sought to re-Condition the way we think: its rationale is its claim to the moral right to do so as fair and just for all.
Christianity addresses the root issue. It requires us to hate our own sin and to love others despite their shortcomings. But Christianity’s civilising doctrine is now replaced by a Religion teaching the reverse: Egocentric Rights: my wants and beliefs – and anyone who disagrees with this Creed is treated as suspect, and even as an enemy to be crushed.
The attitude of hatred towards God and Jesus Christ today is symptomatic of the triumph of this new Creed. I find it difficult to see how any civilised person can disagree with the essential teaching of Christ: love God and love others as yourself. But the adherents and apologists of this new Creed hate Christ. Indeed they exult in that hatred by celebrating all the rebellious, sinful Attitudes of the fallen human heart. Immorality and self centredness are now ‘good’. Moral restraint and respect for traditional social norms are treated as evil.
The Bible of the Christian faith warns of times when good is called evil, and evil is called good. We live in such times.
In this regard, I find chapter 6 of Paul’s letter to the regulation minded and sensual Galatians apposite:
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
Such words are not the ramblings of a superstitious madman in antiquity. These are the words of a bond servant of Christ concerning the spiritual facts of life – and facts of life obtain whatever we may think or feel about them. They operate relentlessly, regardless of the deceitful notions of our sinful, wayward hearts …
The flesh, of course, is the instinctive source of our Attitudes. By the flesh Paul means that fallen, self centred human nature which is enslaved to our physical passions. Such Attitudes must be identified for what they are, and consciously controverted daily so that we learn to live as Jesus Christ commands: love and do not count the cost paid by SELF.
Now, this highlights the critical importance of our Beliefs about life, and about the philosophy by which we live: the perspective, the doctrine, the values we hold dear. It highlights, too, the fact that we learn to live according to our philosophy of life. We either learn to be concerned about the welfare of others; or else we default to learning to be self centred, eclipsing the interests of others in our self absorption.
Learning is that process which we go through all the time. Every decision we make and action we take either reinforces bad habits, or denies them. Refusing bad habits and attitudes, choosing instead to live in a constructive and meaningful way, brings us contentment and a civilised outlook. We must, therefore, consciously attend to our own, personal learning, or Conditioning. It is actually my choice what I learn. But if I don’t consciously choose, then I am prey to whatever influences are at work about me.
Attitude, Belief and Conditioning inter-act, for better or for worse. It is for each of us to take responsibility for our own mindset, and pray that God helps others with theirs.
We are all significantly influenced by the prevalent belief system of the Society into which we were born. I was born into an England which still held the Christian faith to be the religion of the nation. It was certainly the case officially, and baptising infants in the Church of England was still regarded as a cultural norm by many people. Although most people no longer attended church, they still believed England to be Christian and volunteered their religion as “C. of E.” when asked. I myself was “christened” in the Church of England, but it was merely a social tradition to be observed rather than the heartfelt conviction of either of my parents. Neither were ardent believers or church goers.
The athestical fanaticism today called political correctness was not widely known back then. The vestiges of the Christian era continued in certain critical ways: Christianity still supplied the philosophical and moral basis of our laws and our institutions. At primary school, we still had a Christian assembly each morning where we all recited what is known as the Lord’s Prayer [or Paternoster]. The essential moral understanding of the land was still Christian – to respect other people; to be forgiving, not bear grudges; to be tolerant of others and not judgemental. Today’s intolerant demand that we demean our English tradition and religion in the name of materialist minded ‘tolerance’ is a hypocritical counterfeit of the Christian doctrine which tells us to love our neighbour as ourselves. I see no value whatsoever in this new, godless religion – only danger.
When I was young, Christianity had not yet been displaced by the religious fervency of anti-God Materialism which has become triumphant across the English speaking and western world today. I thank God that my childhood passed in a society which still had a nominal Christianity and that I prayed the Lord’s Prayer at school every morning.
Even so, we were beginning to live in the post Christian world. Among the elite and the Establishment of Britain, the pivotal point at which the Christian moral ethos decisively gave place to pagan immorality was in 1967 with the passing of the Abortion Act. The so-called “Swinging Sixties” heralded the more widespread turning point among the younger generation and set the United Kingdom on a full blown anti- Christian and totally pagan trajectory. Today we are forced to endure the fruits of mindless materialism, utter selfishness and social irresponsibility.
I have for decades regarded the Christian faith and doctrine as the fundamental reference point for all I say and do. I also regard rulers and governments as accountable to God. The Bible makes the accountability of governments to the King of kings explicit – “Kiss the Son”, Psalm 2
My belief system frames my life and informs my choices and views. It is not just an intellectual conviction but a fundamental, living faith. It is more than a mental belief; it is the experience of living – and not living – the Christian way of life. It is reinforced by the experience of witnessing and enduring a fanatically Atheistic Society.
No doubt your belief system frames your life and is your point of reference when things are difficult or require explanation. Which is why I want to highlight Beliefs – both personal and corporate. We really do need to be aware of the thinking which informs our lives and our views. We need to be aware of how Beliefs and philosophical assumptions impact us as individuals – and how they will also impact those around us.
So my question is this. Does your belief system enhance your being a civilised and socially responsible person – indeed do you ever reflect on this ? Because what we believe – our politics, our religion, our philosophy of life – will influence how we live, and how we interact with other people.
But the issue is not just our framework of belief – our philosophy of life. It must also be about what do we do with that system of belief. Indeed how we respond to the prevailing system of belief in the society around us. And that question brings me to the vital third aspect of our psychology which most emphatically requires careful, personal management.
My faith in Christ requires me to attend to the state of my attitude and thinking on a daily basis. The daily prayer of the Christian faith reminds me continually of where the priorities for my mind should be.
- Godward – a reminder of what God wants and who God is [eg love and justice]
- we are reminded of our dependence on God; our needs are met by God, ultimately, not ourselves or others
- the fundamental need to be forgiven and to forgive others – the constant reminder of our own responsibility to maintain right relations with others
- the reminder to recognise and defeat temptation which will only incite wrong attitudes and generate problems
The constant daily reminder to defeat the negatives in self frame a Christian’s outlook. It promotes personal responsibility in relationships and concern for others.
But what do other Beliefs solicit and nurture – how do they act in Conditioning human beings ? Do they encourage adherents to address their own responsibilities first and foremost ?
To my mind, any religion worthy of the name must surely cause us as mere creatures of a perfect and loving God to get ourselves into perspective. In that God centred perspective, I become aware of my responsibilities before God and towards others. A religion which fails to civilise us is no religion at all. It is surely a hypocritical pretext to impose ourselves on others, and demand that they conform to us and our beliefs. True religion surely demands that we conform ourselves to the manifestly creative, constructive and loving God who made this universe.
Sects and cults are obvious manifestations of a hypocritical and false, controlling mindset; so too are those religious movements who routinely deploy bombs, bullets and co-erced conversions.
Religions and philosophical systems encourage us to Conform our thoughts, our attitudes, our own behaviour to their Belief system. We must therefore be vigilant about beliefs which provoke people to conform themselves to anti-social behaviour and mindsets in the name of laudable social aims.
Examples are Nationalism and Communism. Both proclaim a higher general good and their mentality is the same – indeed the consequences are the same ! The Collective of Nation or Society becomes the new God demanding total allegiance. Invariably – and historically – their Creed demands that individuals conform to the Collective Group, forsaking all independent thought or feeling. “The greater good” is an excuse used by ideological and manipulative minorities and elites to condition people to suspend their own individual moral judgement.
My creed, however, demands that I conform to Christ’s example and teaching, not to extremist thought in Nation or the politicised State. The lethal dangers associated with mens ideas of general good are historical fact – from Lenin and Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany, to Mao’s China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia.
In the Western nations today, however, we assume that we are immune from the evils which occured in 20th century Germany, Russia, China and Cambodia.
We are not.
Germans, Russians and Chinese are all human beings with the same human concerns and needs as the rest of us. We are all the same. We are human. And it is the fact of our humanity [ eg of our frailty] and of how we operate [too often selfishly, fearfully or negligently] that makes all of us susceptible to being misled and to being irresponsible in the management of our own thoughts and behaviour.
When we look at the history of western society over recent decades we see clearly the demise of all Christian influence both locally and nationally; and we see extreme Materialism has become dominant.
But Materialism does not teach either the individual, or governments to be morally responsible. In fact the very reverse.
Materialism incites all the worst attitudes and instincts of the human heart. It exacerbates the problems of our humanity – it addresses our most fundamental needs irresponsibly. The results are dangerous indeed.
Yet Materialism has become the Orthodox religion of western society today. It is the fundamental philosophy informing everything – absolutely everything in western society today. Which is why western society is in manifest decline …
Materialism now determines both the assumed culture and the moral norms of Society. It determines both law and judicial culture in order to impose a particular political thought system. In July 2019, Sajid Javid spoke of a new national identity for Britain in his speech to the “Counter Extremism Commission” – a novel instrument to pursue that identity.
The apostles of this anti-God, anti- Christian Belief system were men like Karl Marx and Edward Bernays. These two alone have had a decisive and immeasurable impact upon modern thought and culture where good is called evil and evil is called good – even adopting the terminology of “human rights”. The very language is abused to serve the new agenda. To destroy the helpless child in the womb is now sold to us as “women’s reproductive rights”. I cannot imagine a more perverse use of language to whitewash the morally dubious as perfectly correct. Of course we have compassion for the woman feeling trapped by unwanted pregnancy; but this does not entitle us to eclipse the reality of the child involved.
The Bernays inspired mass advertising over the last century has created a culture and climate of deceit and manipulation where ‘truth’, morals and behaviour all now reflect the reversal of actual truth, morality and responsible, civilised behaviour.
Mass television advertising is blatant distortion and decontextualisation. It aggrandizes sheer greed, and reduces our humanity to the merely material. It is moral and spiritual poison.
Such wilful manipulation of people’s thinking and behaviour to conform our subconcious minds to a materialist agenda, decade after decade, has insidiously corrupted the general consciousness of our Society. In this and many other ways, we have all been taught to be materialistically ambitious and preoccupied. The consequences in crime and social break down abound inexorably.
We need to wake up from the deception. We need to Take Back Control of both our personal and our society’s ABC.
We need to adopt a Christian culture, personally and collectively.
© Graham R. Catlin 2022