Many of the things we do are referenced by the actions of others. “Imitation is,” indeed, “the highest form of flattery,” a quote given by a 19th Century writer. It is only natural for children to mimic the nurture provided by friends, parents, and siblings.
But what happens when we imitate sources that are not only an illusion… but a lie?
As a social culture, we idolize movie stars, comic super heroes, sports teams, all kinds of individuals and groups displayed in the media. These models can be extremely manipulative in how we function in our world, especially when we allow these authorities to direct our lives, teaching us how to work, speak, and think.
Is it for the best? Perhaps we are living in dangerous days.
Edward Bernays, an intellectual who maintained a long and productive life as an advertising genius, understood the effective use of propaganda. In his book entitled by the same name, Propaganda, he wrote an interesting paragraph which, when heard, has kept me rather leery when looking towards such finite sources. He wrote:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
As learners, we need to be careful who and what we look up to—we are all children in this sense. We also need to mindful of the things we advocate. Our preferences might not be our own… yet from those who desire to indoctrinate our thoughts and movements.
For if a tiny parasite can easily manipulate its host… how much more can a spiritual faculty?