Death by Distraction.
All our lives, we’re told to pay attention; to be on the alert; to keep a watchful eye on our surroundings. It really is great advice because not being aware/being distracted has caused more than just inconveniences. It kills.
Distracted doesn’t just apply solely to individuals. It also applies to nations.
Most of the time distraction isn’t done purposefully. Sometimes you just aren’t paying attention- you’re driving in your car and you’re listening to loud music, screaming at your kids to get back in their car seats or texting love texts to your sweetheart. You don’t notice the light has turned red and BAM-you’re dead; or you’re walking alone and you’re not aware of a person behind you until you’re robbed or worse.
The lists of accidental distractions are long but, there is another kind of distraction that most people aren’t aware of -purposeful distraction. Animals are coaxed into cages by the sight of food. They aren’t paying attention until the door slams shut behind them. They react but its too late. They’re trapped because they were deliberately distracted. Humans fall victim to purposeful distraction all the time especially when they are desperate. Politicians use purposeful distraction all they time. They know how to woo crowds. They know how to play the distraction card very well. A politician’s good looks, sweet talk and their ability to blame the opposition for all the ills in the world work very well in distracting naive people. People ooah and aahh totally oblivious that they are being played for fools until their taxes are increased or their houses go into foreclosure because the factory they worked for closed and they can’t find a job that pays the same wages.
Lacking awareness caused great empires to fall. The destruction of the Byzantine and the Persian empires were caused because they were too distracted to notice the threat in Arabia. Two advanced powers crushed by an illiterate army of Bedouins because they were caught with their pants down – the world hasn’t been the same since.
Native Americans suffered the same humiliation of defeat because they failed to understand the enormity of what they were facing until it was too late. One tribe was too busy worrying about what the other was doing instead of uniting to drive the Europeans out. Tens of millions died because their leaders weren’t paying attention.
Once Syria, North Africa, and Egypt were majority Christian lands -then Islam came. But the Christians were too distracted to pay attention to the Muslim invaders until it was too late. The Christians constantly squabbled amongst themselves, distracted by silly nuances instead of uniting to defeat a terrible enemy.
Throughout history, hundreds of millions of men, women and children died because they weren’t aware until it was too late.
The same is happening today. Humans never learn. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is as timely today as it was 3,000 years ago. People thrive on illusions. They believe what they are told, thinking that the famous and mega rich know more than they do. They trust their leaders to do the right thing even when the evidence tells them otherwise because they want to believe that their leaders want what is best for them. The American media babbles about gay rights , transgender rights & race relations. They bash Christianity or the police while hyping the latest fad or celebrity.
In the meantime, our infrastructure has crumbled, our schools have failed, our economy has contracted, our core faith shattered, our family foundation ruined and only a few pay attention.
Its so insidious yet so glaringly obvious that these distractions are deliberate. People don’t notice because they’ve been trained not to notice. Their sense of reality has been blurred by the unreality of imagery, fantasy, social media and relentless propaganda. Countless youth spend too many hours in a dark room hovering over a computer instead of being outside playing, interacting and enjoying what is real. Sadly, they are caught up a virtual world that has caused them to loose a sense of self and community, preferring to interact with strangers in a landscape of fantasy games; distracted to the point they are rendered detached, stressed, and vulnerable.
When people are distracted they don’t know what’s going on and when they don’t know what’s going on, they lose control of their lives.
Our kids are indoctrinated instead of taught but no parental voices are raised in protest. Their parents are too distracted to perceive what is happening to their children or understand the dire consequences.
This is how Hitler took power. One day, the German people realized their rights had been snatched away. But, the thing is it didn’t happen in one day. It took years for the destruction of German rights to take place. Germans weren’t paying attention until it was too late, and they paid dearly for that- still are to this very day.
The same thing happened in Russia. The Russian people were too distracted by the lies and promises of the Bolsheviks to notice their harvests confiscated, millions deliberated starved, millions of others hauled off to Gulags until it was too late. The same happened to the Iranians. They were too distracted by the lies and promises of the Mullahs to notice the chains of Sharia Law being placed around their wrists and ankles until it was too late.
All over Europe, Muslims are pouring in; threatening European sovereignty yet the Europeans are doing nothing to stop the invasion. Europeans are too distracted. Their sense of reality has been blurred, splintered and manipulated to the point they don’t even know who they are. Propaganda, substandard education, vacationing and partying have distorted the Europeans’ sense of realty to the point they don’t notice that their continent is dying.
America is dying too.
The evidence is everywhere yet most Americans don’t notice. They are too distracted by what is happening in their daily lives. So many things take up so much time and energy- texting, taking selfies, going to the gym, running 5Ks, school, partying, hanging out, shopping, using FB/twitter. They are mesmerized by the latest trends and fads to notice that their once prosperous country is no longer prosperous. They are too distracted to notice that their constitutional rights, and their rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness are being eroded.
In a culture of distraction, our attention skills are eroded and this contributes to the weakening our society as a whole. Attention is key. Without the powers of focus, awareness, and judgement that fuel self control, we cannot fend off distractions, set goals, manage a complex changing environment, and ultimately shape the trajectory of our lives (and our nation). (Jackson, M., Distracted. p. 233.)
Americans have their eyes glued to the shadows dancing on the wall of their cave. They aren’t aware of the fires raging outside. When the fires finally reach their cave and block the entrance, Americans will be astonished and wonder how could this have happened. They’ll be outraged. They’ll curse their elected officials. They’ll gather in force to fight the fire but by then it will be too late.
Or maybe it’s not too late. Maybe Americans still have a chance. Reshaping our culture into a culture of attention is probably one of the greatest skills parents/community can teach our children (and ourselves.) (Jackson, M. p.264).
Paying attention is our “intellectual firepower.” Paying attention enables us to focus and regain control. Awareness is crucial. Knowing what is happening empowers us to understand that being distracted not only kills individuals. It kills freedom. It kill nations.
Jackson, M., Distracted.(2008) Prometheus books
Plato, Allegory of the Cave.