People versus Sheeple. Which side are you on?

Via Ben Ralston
on Sep 30, 2010
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Are you human, or are you one of the sheeple?

Don’t get me wrong – I love sheep. But not when they are pretending to be humans!!


It was brought to my attention recently how un-human many humans are!

I came off my bike, and was lying by the side of the road, wondering if I had broken anything. It was here in the hills where I live, and there was no-one around to help me – until a car came along… and passed. The passenger, a metre away, looked through the window, pointed at me, laughing!

I would say that “I couldn’t believe it”, but the fact is, I wasn’t all that surprised…. something very similar happened to me years ago in London – but that time I was in a busy street, surrounded by literally hundreds of people, and again, not a single person so much as asked if I was ok… although I had a very serious and dramatic accident. I was lucky to be alive actually.

Why is it that people are so uncaring about each other?

I believe that there are many reasons – for example, sometimes people are really in a hurry; caught up in their problems; stressed. I can understand that. However I think that the main reason lies elsewhere: I think that many people are afraid. Afraid of being seen – of being visible. Afraid of being heard. Afraid of what might happen in this unexpected, unusual, extra-ordinary encounter with a stranger.

Afraid of breaking out of their comfort zone. Afraid of breaking through the little bubble of habituated routine that they inhabit.

The fact is that many people have become like sheep. Fearful, and ready to do only what they are told.

At the Nuremberg trials, as we all know, the German officers and soldiers responsible for mass murder and genocide stated that they were simply
“following orders”.

I see that many people today are still perfectly happy to follow orders, even if those orders are apparently against what they believe in.

For example, recently on French television, an experiment was carried out:
In the documentary, ‘contestants’ were told  that they were taking part in a ‘reality t.v. show’. They were told by the ‘T.V. presenter’ (played by an actor) to electrocute the other contestants for giving wrong answers. The person being ‘electrocuted’ was also an actor, but the ‘contestants’ didn’t know this. The purpose of the documentary was to find out how far people would go before saying ‘No’ to an authority figure.

Guess what? They were prepared to follow orders even to the point where the person being electrocuted could be killed.

Actually, this experiment was a replica of a famous scientific research conducted by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s – in which the results were the same. The times have changed; human behaviour has not.

To me, this shows the extent to which we allow others to take our power from us – if someone is in a position of apparent authority – whether they are a politician, a doctor, or a television presenter! – we are often all too happy to give our power to them.


But there is another side to this. We are not only prepared to follow orders. We are unprepared to act on our own initiative. So many people are so brainwashed by television; advertising; and our excuse for an education system (which really educates people how not to think for themselves) that they actually don’t know how to think for themselves. If they are not told what to do, they tend to do nothing.

The great philosopher Bertrand Russell once said:
“Most people would rather die than think. In fact, they do so!”

Of course, we all go through the normal day to day activities, but anything out of the ordinary presents many people with a difficult challenge. So when they come across the unusual situation (for example) of a man at the side of the road underneath a bicycle, they simply point and laugh nervously!

I wrote recently about FREEDOM, and how we are often unable to react spontaneously because we are so conditioned by our prejudices, fears, and ideas about the world around us. But I have realised that there is something else which limits people’s freedom in a more fundamental way: this inability to act without being encouraged; given permission; or even being ordered, to do so.

If you came across a person at the side of the road, under a bicycle, would you stop to help? If *you* were one of those unwitting ‘contestants’ in the documentary, how far would you go?

Do you have the courage to break free from social conditioning in order to do what you know in your heart you must do: to do the right thing, in any given moment, no matter the cost?

Because – correct me if I’m wrong here – isn’t that what makes us human?


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About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston is a therapist, healer, advanced Sivananda Yoga teacher, and writer. His writings have been read by millions of people and can be found on Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, and various other portals online. He has been teaching Yoga for 16 years in hotels, ashrams, beaches, gyms and rooftops worldwide. And he runs a busy international therapeutic practice from his home in rural Croatia. Offering sessions in person or via Skype, his therapeutic work is based on healing trauma, and the tools he uses for this are varied – mainly RPT, Shamanism, and energy work. He has also developed some of his own methods, particularly in the area of abuse trauma; ‘resource state’ awareness; and boundary reconstruction. He regularly runs retreats combining Yoga and other energetic exercises with his therapy. He would love nothing more than to see you on one of these retreats, since he believes that this approach to personal development is really the only effective way of bringing love and peace to global human society. Connect with Ben on Facebook. Read more of his writing on his new website with integrated blog! Yes, he's excited about that :)

Comments

23 Responses to “People versus Sheeple. Which side are you on?”

  1. SevaSouleYoga says:

    Great article though it made me a little sad. In the interest of giving you hope though, I'll mention that my family was stopped by a stranger in Chicago last weekend who said he needed help to get his car out of a garage (he had forgotten his wallet). We decided it was better to help the poor guy than to just think of him as some sneaky dude. He took our information to send the money back or get in touch, so we'll see what happens. Even if he never gets back to us, or he really was trying to swindle us, no worries. It was the right thing to do at the time.

  2. indrasingh says:

    Today i passed the church in the town i live, the vicar was coming out of the church after harvest festival, he fell, people rushed to help him but as i was walking away i saw 2 men approaching the scene who had just caught the end of the incident. I heard one of them say ' wish i had f**king seen all that, it would have made my day.' You know what? i wasn't shocked when i heard it because i've heard these mocking remarks so many times before.
    To read your article hit the nail on the head, why do we behave this way to one another?
    Thanks Ben-food for thought

  3. BellaP says:

    "… this inability to act without being encouraged; given permission; or even being ordered, to do so. "
    Bingo. That one sentence perfectly sums everything up. Thank you for posting this Truth.

    Pranams

  4. When I was 24 I was a peace corp volunteer in West Africa. I was young and so out of my element, my stress level was unhealthily out of balance and I was overwhelmed physically, emotionally, spiritually and any other ways one can be overwhelmed. I was there to help. To give, to be a friend, to open myself up and to love and to learn and to do all of the things one thinks they will do when one joins the peace corp. I was a giver, not one to turn away. At least that's what I thought of myself. Me, miss world peace and love.

    To be continued…

  5. One day I was in the market buying bread and I saw a boy about 8 years old limping. I noticed he had a cut on the side and bottom of his foot. It wasn't a gash that needed stitches, but it was bleeding and he was barefoot. I thought about the germs that might infect his cut, I thought about how I couldn't really talk to him about it because I didn't speak Hassaniya or Pular, I thought about how weird it would be if I just mimed getting a piggy-back ride to my house where I could use my own first-aid kit to dress the boys wound. I thought about any unwelcome criticism coming from locals who didn't want us there if I actually carried this boy to my house. I thought about how most of the kids didn't have shoes, medicine or even food or clean water and what was the point of trying to help one kid when so many were infected, hungry and in need? I thought and thought until he was gone and I did nothing. I think about this boy all of the time.

  6. Paul says:

    Neither, I am a walrus.

  7. Chris says:

    Two links showing two ends of the responsibility continuum to share: The first is what happens when a thief (played by an actor) pretends to be stealing a bike in broad daylight with dozens of people looking on….
    http://www.wimp.com/stealingbike/

    The second is of a man doing a hero's work in the U.K.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2J0ikG4XpTs

    Enjoy and pass it along!

  8. Mary says:

    There ARE angels among us, however. When I biked the 15,000+ miles from Inuvik, NT to Ushuaia, Argentina, 99% of the people I met along the way were kind, curious, concerned, and so danged generous, it was exhausting just thinking "how can I ever live up to the example they're teaching me?" Help (with bloody gashes and road rashes, cholera, hepatitis, or just taking a wrong turn onto the "wrong side of the tracks") arrived in the most unexpected places at the most opportune times. One wonderful surprise was in Texas; 30 nights on the road, 30 invitations to be a guest in a private home. Plus one night in jail, as the sheriff wanted to keep us safe from the Halloween hooligans haha! But truly, having pedaled vulnerably through war zones and drug cartel areas and finding only tender hearts and hard-working families, I believe I've learned a bit about the average person's desire to know and help others, even strangers, along life's path. So my two cents is basically, get back on the bike and keep riding, faith in humanity intact.
    Mary

  9. Anna Fidz says:

    Ben, awesome article! Something I have thought about quite often! I hope I'm more human than sheeple! At least I try to be!

  10. Keith says:

    You have a wonderful insight and understanding of what is. I get great pleasure in reading you posts. Thank you.

  11. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yes, it's sad. Read the comment above by Mary and you'll feel a little better. I did!
    With love, Ben

  12. […] People versus Sheeple. Which side are you on? […]

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