Say No to Gates

(and yeah, that includes Bill)

Truth comes to all of us at different degrees and levels.

Lenny Bruce

I was working in a gym — teaching someone how to torque her hips into a left hook — when I heard loud griping about health care… a subject worthy of complaint, for sure, but here’s the punch line:

“I’d get better treatment if I wasn’t an American,” the griper declared. “The illegal aliens (sic) come here, don’t pay taxes, and exploit the system. Me? I’m screwed because I was born here and actually pay my taxes.”

Of course, that gripe is loaded with common fallacies. For example, even if they work in the “informal economy” (with its low wages, unsafe conditions, and non-existent benefits), most undocumented immigrants regularly pay sales tax, real estate tax, gasoline tax, etc. In fact, undocumented workers using fraudulent Social Security cards pay billions of dollars per year into that system even though most will never receive a single penny in benefits.

I could go on debunking the myriad myths surrounding immigration and the whole divide-and-conquer 1% mentality — but far too often, the facts don’t even matter. In a heavily conditioned society, way too many folks choose to believe what they are told/taught/programmed to believe. Don’t take my word for it. Just take a look around. How/why does that happen? I’ve written about this before yet, it sadly remains relevant and timely, so here we go again.

In his book, The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson writes: “I was told by some New Zealand sheep farmers that sometimes a particularly smart lamb will learn to undo the latch of a gate, evidently not an uncommon skill, and the sheep farmer then worries that the lamb might teach his less clever companions to do the same.”

Masson asked the farmers: “What do you with sheep who can undo the latch?”

“We shoot them,” came the reply, “so they can’t pass on their knowledge.”

“Others nodded in agreement,” Masson continued. “They all had anecdotes about particularly intelligent sheep who were shot as a reward for their cleverness.”

While this excerpt stands alone as a telling indictment of human behavior in general and the treatment of animals in particular, it additionally reminds one how important it is for each of us to not only undo the latches on the gates that keep our minds imprisoned… but to also pass on that knowledge.

Of course, some of those who have learned to undo the latches in human society are duly “rewarded for their cleverness,” too. The tactics vary but even the most obedient of populations can be pushed too far and that’s when the latches get undone, the knowledge occupied and passed on, and the gates fly open.

These gates — literal and figurative — can lock us into a limited way of seeing things… a concept Masson also touches on in The Pig Who Sang to the Moon. He spoke with some women who worked with cattle, asking them about the cows’ feelings.

“They don’t have any,” the women agreed. “They are always the same, they feel nothing.”

“At that moment,” Masson writes, “we all heard a loud bellowing. I asked why the cows were making that noise.”

The women shrugged it off as “nothing,” explaining that cows that were separated from their calves were calling them.

“The calves are afraid,” one woman said, “and are calling for their mothers, and their mothers are afraid for their calves and are calling them, trying to reassure them.”

“It sounded to me,” Masson stated, “as if these people were suffering from confirmation bias, which involves only taking into account evidence that confirms a belief already held and ignoring or dismissing evidence that disproves that same belief.”

Even the evidence of their own senses cannot convince them? There’s an important, essential lesson lurking in there for us all. Learn it, pass it on, join us.

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.