Indoctrination

in·doc·tri·na·tion, noun
  1. the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

This is how I truly understood indoctrination: I was reading a book about counteracting Watchtower doctrine. I was falling asleep. As I read the words explaining why the Governmental Body isn’t the Faithful and Discreet Slave (if you are not a witness, this will not make sense to you), I found myself rebutting each bullet point with things I remembered; points the author wasn’t taking into account, various other reasons why the Watchtower feels the Governmental Body is the FD&S (real or not). Now that I’m awake, I can’t remember any of those reasons.

While I was half asleep, they all came to me easily without even thinking. One after the other. Now I can’t remember any of it. My indoctrination was successful, even if it was flawed: the teachings are in my subconscious, even through the awakening of my rational mind.

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Economy vs People

If you like donald trump because you say he’s good for the economy, while ignoring the environmental repercussions of his executive actions, being completely apathetic to the fact America was made great by immigrants, believing that abortion should be criminalized, and that the media should be suppressed… well then my friend, you have made it perfectly clear that money is more important to you than people.

Food Stamps

In early 2009 (around the time Obama took office but before any of his policies were put in place), I applied to for food stamps. I was denied.

I was literally starving- and I do mean literally in the proper sense of the word. I had almost no food in my house, my car was getting repossessed, I had no car insurance and certainly no health insurance. Here’s the thing though: I was working two jobs at the time. The economy was really bad in early 2009, I had just gone through a divorce, and was reentering the workforce after being a stay-at-home Mom for five years. Things weren’t easy for me. I could have really benefited from ACA, SNAP, and a few other assistance programs because I really was in need.

Republicans love to say that people on welfare are lazy, that they’re drug users and they love to mooch. That simply just isn’t true. Are there people who buck the system? Well of course. But the fact is, as of 2015 the vast majority of people on some form of government assistance were employed. The problem is they were employed in low-paying jobs like fast food or child care (see a study here). Also, most of the assistance goes to children.*

It seems that a lot of people who have it easy or who managed to pull themselves out of poverty love to judge. By stating that “people on welfare are lazy” they’re automatically and apathetically passing judgment on others who are struggling to make ends meet. So what if a portion of those people are bucking the system? That is their own karma to bear. There are plenty others who don’t have it as good as you do. And if you’re in a position where your tax dollars are going to help someone else, you really don’t have it that bad, and you should be glad.

*This is one of the reasons Planned Parenthood is so important, you conservative Republican Christians: if you don’t want to feed all these extra children, then how about we help people not have so many kids in the first place? Did that ever occur to you??

They say the truth shall set you free.

Can one unlearn things? Forget and erase something that happened, something that was witness or learned? Can one change one’s views of the facts?

I pride myself in having an open and inquisitive mind. I want to know who is out there, what they do, and why. Why do certain things happen? What do other people believe? What is going on on the other side of the world?

The problem with reading and having an open mind is that you learn a lot. And you think a lot. And with that thinking comes a lot of worry, anger, and depression.

When you see the atrocities that are going on in other places outside of your bubble, you grow depressed. When you see the unfairness in society in your own country, you get angry. When you realize that we’re all headed for potential disaster, you worry.

(That’s why I think that those who are depressed and crazy are the deepest people among us.)

This is true even for one’s religion. People born into Jehovah’s Witness families have no clue of what’s going on around them. They live in a bubble because they are not allowed to become involved in politics, other religions, other religion’s causes, associate with people outside of their Witness community, marry outside their faith, have non-witnessing friends, read books on evolution or other religions, or read anything that could remotely contradict the things they have been taught. They only associate with other Witnesses and that’s all they know. They are aware that the world is in shambles, but they believe this is all part of God’s divine plan and he will fix it in due time. There is no need to worry or do anything about it.

There is bliss in that sort of ignorance.

When someone puts something in front of you that forces you to see the Watchtower for the brainwashing cult that it is, you are forced to open your eyes. And see. And learn. And understand how the world works. And you worry, and you get angry, and you get even more depressed.

I’ve always been contradictory- doing the opposite of what was expected of me. Except this has made my life harder. I am tired.

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been shown the truth about the “Truth” (this is what Witnesses call their religion). I was no longer a witness at the time, but I had every intention of going back because it was all I knew. Since the blindfold came off, my mind expanded like an atomic bomb. But it also felt like a bomb, too. I have felt so much heartbreak over the last 9 years. Now, my life has been full of blessings, too. I do not want to minimize that fact. I have very little to complain about. The issues are all in my head. The worry/ anger/ depression. The rejection. The loneliness. And the problem is that, because now I know the REAL truth, I can’t ever go back to the fake Truth. Believe it or not… sometimes I wish I could, if only to try and repair broken familial bonds and pretend like soon God is going to fix everything that is wrong with the world.

Which loops me right back to the beginning… Can one unlearn things? Forget and erase something that happened, something that was witness or learned? Can one change one’s views of the facts? Sadly, people can’t unlearn or unsee what they know. The best we can try and do is change our perspective of a situation. Unfortunately, there is still a voice in the back of your head that tells you when something is just not right. It takes a lot of conditioning to turn off that voice. You have to learn not to think.

November 8, 2016

Like most people opposite of the Dark Side, I have been too distraught by recent events to focus on anything else that isn’t absolutely necessary for survival. I’ve done my best to plow on forward and remain a somewhat functioning human being on what has challenged the fact all common sense tells me we are headed for disaster.

On November 8, the Donald tRump was elected 45th president of the United States of America.

He appealed to the working class by telling them everything they wanted to hear. He brought out and played to the fears of the conservative working class in America- the financial insecurity, the racial tensions, the libertarian movement that so strongly threatens Christian hyper-sensitivities. He even managed to include the classic immigrant scapegoat  maneuver. But, as anyone with an open mind outside of that class could see, he was just selling them what they wanted to hear. And A LOT of people bought it.

I mean, really… people expect a millionaire asshole to have the working class’ best interest at heart? I tell you that they do, because I personally know good-hearted folk who believe tRumpledore genuinely cares about the American people and that climate change really is a hoax. I just cannot wrap my head around that.

Update: It’s December 1, and the tRumpledore has in fact picked Wall Street insiders, corporate billionaires, and Washington lobbyist as his cabinet picks. What’s scarier is that I think a lot of his followers don’t care (like they don’t care that hate crimes in America spiked right after the elections). It is obvious that people are blind. We all believe what we want to believe.

Comcast and Economics

Comcast has outsourced their customer service

Comcast was famous for their horrific customer (dis)service. My god, how awful they were.

It seems like they were paying unqualified people minimum wage only to try and piss you off as much as possible before sending you to the “customer retention department” and throw some freebie at you to try keep you as a customer because you were so exhausted by the time they got you.

Comcast also had the best internet around and for the cheapest price.

Now, it seems that they have outsourced their customer service abroad. The last few times I had to call Comcast were actually…. pleasant. My blood pressure did not spike. I did not feel my blood boiling. My eyes did not twitch.

I suspect Comcast is paying these good customer service people even less than their old shitty American counterparts. And these people are GOOD… by far superior in their customer service skills than anyone I ever encountered stateside.

Now, is it that we are a shitty, entitled culture with shitty attitudes to match shitty wages?

Or is it that the people on top were too greedy to pay good people good money to provide good customer service?

In my opinion, it’s both, with the added element of the American public’s expectations of cheap, good shit (in this case, the “shit” in question being the Internet).

If the people at the top of Comcast were less greedy, they could offer better pay and hire better people, or at least keep their current people in a happier place so they may feel encouraged to do better. If people at the bottom did a better job at their minimum wage, they may get ahead (or maybe not, depending on just how greedy the capitalists at the top are). If they did a good job, the people at the top maybe wouldn’t need to hire much better people at much better rates somewhere in Bombay. If we, as whiny entitled American people didn’t expect such cheap prices for everything so that we can have it all on our meager salaries, the greedy uppers wouldn’t feel so compelled to cut corners with their staff so they can bring you cheaper internet while still lining their own chubby pockets. You see how we all played a hand in this Outsourcing that so many nice Republicans are always complaining about??

Food Un-Safety

I recently had to take a class on food safety for restauranteurs, since I am opening up a hot dog cart later this month. The things I learned during this course were, to put it quite simply, fascinating. As it turns out, I have been doing many, many things wrong for a very, very long time.

For instance: Did you know that the maximum amount of time you can keep leftovers in the fridge is seven days? Seven days. Well, you see, my grandmother keeps cooked black beans in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Three weeks!!  What her mother had taught her was that the way to keep the beans from going bad over that extensive period of time was to boil them once or twice a week (this is repeated reheating). This procedure, she said, would kill off the bacteria and allow the beans to last that much longer. It worked- especially for low-income families living in the outskirts of the big city. Makes sense to me.

However, according to modern-day regulations, this procedure is not only a gross violation of many health codes, but a great and potential danger for all kinds of horrible, fever-and-vomit-inducing diseases, some being so severe that they may even result in DEATH. DEATH, I tell you! How-ever did my grandmother’s generation survive this time/temperature abuse?? (Those of you who deal with food on a commercial level understand this terminology…). How did my mother, so young and frail at one time, survive such severe abuse of time and temperature control?? It’s not like the beans went into the refrigerator right away (which is a violation too, anyway), nor did they get cooled in a chilled pan for a quick 2 hours to bring them to the safe temperature for refrigeration. Noooo. These things would sit, at the nifty and scary room temperature zone, for hours.

And while we’re talking about room temperature… according to the CDC and FDA and FUKCU, eggs must be stored at 45 or below. I had an instant flashback of my granmother’s kitchen from just last week, where she was holding a cute little basket of brown eggs right on her kitchen counter. We live in Florida. Trust me, room temperature is NEVER 45 or below. Gasp!!! Another violation! How are we still alive?!

And this brings me to my last and most twisted – and recent, at least – story of time/temperature/oxygen abuse. We’re talking full-on, no hold-barred, violations of at least 10 different kinds of food safety procedures. You see, we had an Independence Day party at our house recently, and our friend James made some smoked pork ribs. He started around 8am on Sunday, and cooked until about 4pm which is when the ribs were ready. By that point, everyone in the house was pretty much trashed. People were coming in and out of the house, people were singing/playing instruments/playing board games, food was everywhere, and flies were having a field day. The ribs and the potato salads went on the table around 4pm , and sometime around midnight, the last of the guests left and we just went to bed.

The next morning. I woke up, still in a state of intoxication, and went through the house assessing the damage. My house was destroyed. But where it really gets good is that, there in the back of the house, in the family room, near three large windows, sat two tables full of leftover food…. and this included two pans full of smoked ribs, still on display. Full, whole, delicious, marinated, smoked, meaty goodness, stacks of them, in aluminum trays. Dear Lord.

The ideal thing would have been to throw those ribs out. But… it was at least 4-5 lbs. of deliciously smoked meat. Enter my dear husband’s reasoning: “Well, you know, that’s how they used to preserve food back in the day, when there were no refrigerators…”

Really? Okay! I forbid myself from further rationalizing why that statement may not really be accurate, in favor of blissfully ignoring all safety hazards because, after all, we’re talking about smoked ribs which were prepared truly, as a labor of love. SOLD! The ribs went in the refrigerator, and we happily ate these ribs for an entire week before chucking the last two racks because we were sick of eating ribs.

We survived.