Whatever you do -- don't be normal

Thousands of years ago, the Buddha explained that the world around us is an illusion, and that through meditation, it was possible to discover what was really real.

The Buddha spread this message thousands of years before TV, social media and modern forms of propaganda have created a world where people no longer have to agree on basic facts about the world.

Global warming is dismissed as a hoax. People believe the world is flat. Political propaganda is ever present, deliberately designed to confuse and brainwash. It is a far cry from the time of that simple bodhi tree.

Would the forces of illusion and despair that we live with, and cope with today be too much even for the masters of old? 

In the 20th century, the development of mass media, advertising and propaganda permitted sociopathic leaders to proclaim, defend, and institute sociopathic values at a national scale. Tens of millions of people died in their homes, on the battlefield, through firebombings and nuclear weapons -- all for reasons that in hindsight are seen as obviously irrational and insane. 

But while we can recognize this insanity today, at the time of their birth, these ideas acted as dark and captivating forces.

What was true of the 20th century is even more true of our current century. The technologies of control are more refined, more subtle and more powerful than they have ever been.

The insanity of the 20th century is not in remission. It has metastasized.

Hannah Arendt coined the famous phrase, "the banality of evil." She use this phrase in describing Adolf Eichmann, a rather plain, dull bureaucrat whose actions condemned millions of people (largely Jews) to their deaths. He was in charge of making the trains run on time to the gas chambers.

Arendt was not impressed with Eichmann. She wondered how someone like him could help produce the Holocaust. She noted that half a dozen psychiatrists had examined Eichmann and had concluded that he was "normal". 

What happens when the "Normal" is the insane? 

We are about to find that out. The world around us is in obvious trouble. Fascism and dictatorship are ascending. Propaganda is ever present. The environment is nearing systemic collapse . Irreparable and catastrophic changes to our global system are imminent.

We have to break free from Normal. The concept of Normal is a jail that has been thrown over us by people who are profiting from misery. Who are unleashing war at every corner of this Earth. Who have no concern for the environmental destruction they are causing. For the human suffering they enable.

To the thinking person, Normal must become the enemy. To be Normal is to be complicit in the doom of the present. Normal is the banality of the evil.  The 20th century, and all its horror, can be summed up in a single world: Normal. Will we never learn from the past?

Break free from Normal. Be different from the status quo. Commit yourself to something other than Normal. It is the only hope for any of us.