I grew up in the several states of the united States of America and spent my foundational years being educated in the public schools.
Since I started my journey down the rabbit hole of freedom (about 22 years ago), I've entered stages of cognitive dissonance, disbelief, outrage, anger, and finally acceptance, adaptation, and awakening.
During this period, which happened over the span of a good decade (and is, in truth, still happening), it occurred to me that the most powerful tool for becoming truly free was to embrace a concept that was mostly beaten out of me before I turned twenty.
That tool, believe it or not, was asking questions about anything that I lacked first hand knowledge of.
How children question
If you spend time around young children, you will inevitably be plagued by questions about almost everything. I have six children (two from my first marriage, four more being from my second wifes first marriage), but spending any time around even one young child will give you more questions to answer than you can shake a stick at.
For each question you answer, at least one more question will pop up to replace it. Often, there will be more than one question in response to your answers.
Eventually, you are tempted to fall back on a non explanation such as that is just how it is to avoid the inevitable follow up questions, whether that is because you are tired of answering questions or you simply don't know the answer.
Confusing First Hand Knowledge with Education
Most of what the average man or woman knows in the united States is not true.
That is not because we are idiots and morons, but because of two prime movers:
- We spend almost all of our formative years in institutions called public schools, being told not only what to think, but how to think about it by authority figures (teachers).
- Outside of school, we watch way too much television, inevitably learning from the corporate government controlled media, which does an amazing job of framing the discussions that we are allowed to consider and filtering the information we have access to. (not quite as true now that the internet has become pervasive)
Unless we have parents who help break the lies down for what they are, we come to believe things simply because everyone knows them to be true, even though they were just told these things and have never proven them to be true themselves.
Most of us completely confuse knowledge with belief, not even realizing that we are doing so.
Consider the following things that we learn in our schools:
- The United States of America is the best country in the world
- We are a free people
- We split from England because the King was oppressive
- Our first president was George Washington
- The civil war was fought to free the slaves
- The 14th amendment freed the slaves
- We had a manifest destiny to expand our territory
- The US Dollar is money
- Legislation is Law
- We have a representative democracy as our form of government
- Our government is good
- Clouds are formed via water in the atmosphere
- The moon rotates around the earth
- The earth rotates around the sun
- You have to go to college if you want to get a good job
- Shampoo is good for your hair
Do you know which of these statements are true?
If you believe any of them to be true OR false, do you believe such because:
- (a) You have proved it true to yourself
- (b) You read it somewhere, heard it from other people, or were told such by someone you trust
In almost every case, you will find that 90% of what you know is actually what you believe because of (b) above.
Until you can realize what things you have first hand knowledge of and what things you do not, you have no reliable ability to distinguish truth from fiction.
First hand knowledge stems from factual findings YOU have made for yourself.
Everything else is faith based knowledge because you think it true simply because someone else told it to you.
Until you have tested your belief against reality, you need to realize that it is only a belief, whether that belief is related to how gravity works or how free you are.
Breaking the Chains
For me, the first step towards becoming as free as I want to be (I'm still working on it...) was to be able to take the role of an outside observer and consider which facts I had in my mind were not actually facts.
This is the source of cognitive dissonance, the facts you know being in direct opposition to the reality you are experiencing.
So called teenage rebellion is a good example of this. As your mind forms and you start to see the cracks in reality, everyone you know hammers at you to conform.
Most people conform eventually. Those who journey too far down the rabbit hole are marginalized.
Becoming Free requires Seeing Clearly
In order to become truly free, you must take the painful step of learning to see things for what they factually are. Indeed, you need to become the dragon.
The first step on the path of freedom was, for me, becoming able to discern knowledge proven by first hand experience from knowledge received via some other party without any confirmation of truth.
Of course, learning to see what you don't factually know is but one of the first steps towards freedom. Even so, it is (at least in my mind) a very important one.
Question like a young child
Once you know what you don't know, reach down, find your inner four year old, and ask questions mercilessly.
Do not accept answers such as because I said so or because X said so.
Test any and all answers against the lens of your own personal experience then test them against factual reality if necessary.
Even if you are 99% certain that something is true (e.g. the earth is round), unless you have circumnavigated the world yourself (or have some other factual basis for such a belief) you should keep in mind the fact that this knowledge is not first hand knowledge, but rather most likely accurate knowledge that would require strong arguments to potentially overcome.
Don't fall into the trap of false knowledge and your path shall be much easier than it might otherwise be.