We are programmed to judge, but we are not like the Greek Goddess of Justice Themis. She wears a blindfold to symbolize unbiased and unprejudiced. The symbol of blind justice. Our programming is much different. It’s up to each individual to fix it.
We have different levels of programming. Some of it is hard-wired, it is part of our dominant instinctual stack. Some programming comes as a part of our personality. When we are healthy, this programming isn’t harmful.
Then there is a type of programming that comes from the environment. The place where we grow up and learn about life from our family and our culture. This is where we learn to place value judgments of good and bad.
Programmed to Judge
To judge is to form an opinion about something. So, we judge everything constantly. And, the values of our judgments come from the programming of our worldview. Our worldview (or paradigm) acts as a filter. This is the lens through which we view reality. It helps us determine what is safe or what is harmful, what is good, and what is bad. This operates at both the conscious and unconscious levels of the mind.
Negative Bias and Prejudice
The main source of harmful programming comes from our cultural narrative. It is input on the conscious and subconscious levels. This programming becomes the boundaries of thought and values. In this way, our mind can make automatic judgments. It is so powerful that it overrides our instincts and personality.
So, what we think is normal is simply an arbitrary judgment. This can change from culture to culture and over time. We cannot deny that we are programmed to judge. Every major religious belief system contains negative bias and prejudice. Our cultural narrative justifies treating others differently, for ravaging the planet in the name of profit. But, this doesn’t change our responsibility to fix it.
Reprogramming our Survival Instinct
How does religion reprogram our basic instincts for sharing and caring? Our basic survival instinct operates on the subconscious level. This ability helps us to assess danger on a subconscious level. It’s that gut sense that tells us something is wrong.
If we grow up in the jungle, we would learn to program it to distinguish between the sounds of dangerous animals. But, if we grew up in the city we couldn’t tell. We would need someone to help reprogram our senses to pick up these dangers. The ability to reprogram this instinctual function is instrumental in our ability to migrate.
Unfortunately, this same programmability is prime for misuse. Propaganda is the use of information to influence thinking, beliefs, and values. It often uses language or situations to elicit an emotional response. This triggers our basic fears and insecurities. It manipulates our fight, flight, or freeze response.
It uses a wide range of materials and media for conveying messages. New forms of media create more ways to program. You can see this in podcasts, paintings, cartoons, posters, pamphlets, films, radio shows, TV shows, and websites.
Looks can be deceiving. Our cultural programming comes from sources seeking to dictate our thoughts, beliefs, and values. These judgments differ greatly from the unprejudiced philosophy of the Goddess Themis. It doesn’t take much investigation to see the motives of these entities to promote prejudice and biases.
The only way to deal with this issue is to first acknowledge it exists. Then, be brave enough to recognize the sources in our lives. And, use strategies to deal with it. It’s just three steps. But none of them are easy. This is because we live in cultures that saturate us in programming and propaganda. The programming comes from many sources. It is almost constant. They build these judgments into the fabric of daily life. We become so familiar with it we don’t recognize them. We don’t see how social manipulation is controlling our lives.
1. Acknowledging the Cultural Filter
The first step is acknowledging that cultural programming exists. This is the hardest step. What the main sources of this propaganda? Unfortunately, it comes from all types of media. It comes through social institutions like religion into our government. It comes at us under the guise of “news.” Together they represent a formidable combination of ongoing brainwashing. Brainwashing is a method of systematic indoctrination.
Brainwashing techniques can be overt or covert. It all depends on the amount of time and level of emotional attachment one has to the programming. Propaganda, mentioned earlier, is a form of covert brainwashing.
Religion represents the single most influential social institution. This is how it can program negative bias and prejudice. However, not all religions are harmful. Only those that create boundaries and restrictions dictate values and thought. As a result, these are harmful because they adversely affect our ability to reason. Some religions have more boundaries than others.
For example, Taoism and many forms of Paganism have the fewest constraints over freethinking. With these systems, you are free to explore and develop your path. Whereas, the Abrahamic religions have the greatest amount of boundaries. They also contain the highest level and negative social programming.
So, step one is admitting that this cultural filter exists and that it is inherently harmful. If you admit that the programming exists, but think it’s okay then you are still under the influence of the brainwashing.
2. Identify the Sources of Programming
Step two, identifying the specific sources in our lives. As we said before, the most pervasive source of our cultural programming comes from religion. When we can SEE the judgments in this filter, we have a choice to accept or reject judgments and values. See how we are programmed to judge and why it is a real Eureka moment. You’ll realize we are being programmed to react just like a trout…
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
- Does the culture you live in have a hierarchy dominated by a religious theme promoting prejudice against a group or gender?
- Are ideas from outside dominant religion automatically considered false or evil?
- Is there a practice of preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity, or gender?
- Is the official “law of the land” directly or indirectly derived from, dominated, or dictated by a religion?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you live in a culture with some degree of cultural programming.
Take an honest assessment of your exposure to cultural programming and the depth of its integration into your life. Realize that social programming is propaganda. Propaganda only works if it’s reinforced continually. Otherwise, the inconsistencies surface.
The effects aren’t hard to see if you look at your values. In some cultures, you have no choice but to “follow” its dictates. Otherwise, you suffer severe consequences. If this is the case, all you can do is protect your mind while projecting obedience. Above all, if you continue to deny that this programming exists, then you remain fully under its control.
Recognize the Tools of Western Religion
Western Organized Religion uses several tools for individual and social programming. These are the Western organized religions of Semitic origin, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Together they represent 4 billion members. This is one half of the world’s population of 8 billion people.
Some say that this probably the original primary purpose. They use a system of continuous indoctrination and programming to mold values and thinking. They are effective at establishing boundaries, restrictions, and limitations on independent thought. And, “tell” you what is wrong and what is right. They often dictate personal and social values that have ripple effects throughout society.
And, their effects depend upon how emotionally invested you are in the propositions they are selling. These systems sell hate, spawn genocide, wars, and discrimination of races, ethnicity, and gender. All the while proclaiming they are agents of love. Those invested in these paradigms can cherry-pick the doctrines to fit their needs. Most people who ascribe to a religion accept its prejudices and biases because they are a part of the “whole.”
Even if you don’t ascribe to one of the Abrahamic religions, you probably still feel its effects. As such, we must make a conscious effort to question why we value things, people, actions, and situations. No matter who, or where you are, you have been subject to cultural programming through several sources. This programming is a filter determining the boundaries and values of things, people, places, and behaviors. This filter programs us to judge everything.
3. Step Three, Implement Strategies
Judge with Fewer Biases and Prejudices
Enhancing your critical thinking skills is the antidote. It can reverse the bias and prejudice of religious extremism, no matter the source. Study and use all critical thinking tools. We recommend logical reasoning, logical axioms, and tools for spotting logical fallacy. More than likely these tools will direct you to conduct your research using sources from outside the religious paradigm you hold.
You’ll be well on your way to determining fact from fiction. Then, resist the prejudice and bias in any way that you can do so within your circle of influence. Questioning the cultural narrative takes courage. Be careful and safe in your resistance. Be pro-fact in your approach, not simply anti-religious.
An obvious question is it possible to eliminate all bias from your thoughts and values? It is theoretically possible, but perhaps improbable. This is because it is almost impossible to live anywhere on the planet where you haven’t been under some level of cultural programming. So, our task is to reduce as many of these boundaries as possible. Plus we have our hard wired programming from our Ego. But, it’s the harmful programming of the cultural narrative that we can and should deal with.
Some people have deeply ingrained biases and prejudices. It’s harder to overcome brainwashing when the beliefs are part of your identity. When beliefs become a part of your personal identity you will defend them regardless of the facts which show them to be harmful or false. If you continue to deny you are programmed to judge, you can never see beyond them. The only way out is to acknowledge your programming. If you do this, then you have the choice to change it.
Also, if you’ve lived in a society dominated by one religious worldview, it can be difficult. You may want the world to see you aren’t a robot but it may also be dangerous to socially outspoken. Don’t let this deter you. Be the best person you can be. Do what you can, where you are, within your circle of influence. Always remember to be safe. Some cultures still take a hard line of retaliation against anyone who questions the cultural narrative.
We are all programmed to judge. However, we can change this programming. We can remove the bias and prejudice of superstitious religious mythology. This takes some courage. You must confront your own beliefs and values. If you find your programming contains negative bias and prejudice, you alone are responsible for changing it.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
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Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia