Bane of Brainwashing Children

 The II. World War had ended only five years before I was born in western Germany. And already as a child I ‘knew’ who is good and who is bad and who is right and who is wrong: the Russians were bad and the Americans were good. The Roman Catholics were right and the Protestants were wrong and all others very wrong. For long I never questioned those axioms. They seemed to be fundamentals. Everyone around shared them. I never had seen a Russian, but surely they were not normal people like us Germans. They were terrifying. They had taken part of our country and could come for more. Whereas the Americans had sent us food and when their army convoys drove through our small town, the soldiers threw chewing gum and waved to us children. No doubt they were good.

When I grew up this mind set weakened but lingered. I still remember my first meeting with Russians: I was sitting in the foreigners’ office in Trichy in 1984. It was still the cold war era. On the same bench next to me two men were sitting. The officer said to them “She is German” and to me, “They are Russians”, and we immediately bent forward and stared at each other. Then we laughed. The barrier was broken.

Luckily I also managed to breach the other barrier that is more difficult to overcome because terrible punishment is threatened if one dares to ‘leave the true faith’ – the barrier that made Catholics, or at least Christians, right and others wrong. It was instilled very effectively from childhood. Whenever ‘Catholic Church’ was mentioned, and it was often mentioned, a long prefix went with it: “alleinseligmachende”. It meant that the Catholic Church alone is capable of saving one’s soul. And if one goes astray it held out the most horrific punishment that can be imagined: burning eternally in hellfire. An adult who has not been taught about eternal hell in childhood in all likelihood will not believe it exists. How could God be so cruel to let his children burn in hell for ever and ever? And that too on the basis of only one and possibly disadvantaged life? Even the most heartless parent would not wish such a fate for his disobedient offspring. Yet a child does not reason and believes what he is told and eternal hell appears real and terribly frightening for young minds.

I still remember that at the age of nine I had skipped Sunday Mass. Skipping Sunday Mass was at that time a cardinal sin with hell as punishment. How much I feared I could die before I had confessed my sin to the priest! I did not doubt that in that case I would go to hell.

Fortunately some of our nuns in boarding school were exceptionally hypocritical. That made it easier to get out of the mindset that only Catholics go to heaven and others go to hell. Further, the priest who was teaching religion was not convincing with his proof that ‘our’ God exists. I found, however, proof in physics: if this whole universe, we included, is basically one energy, then this all pervading energy must be God. A God that is for everyone, not just for Christians.

I share these personal details to show how easily children are influenced and in many cases for life. I had heard of ‘brainwashing’ already in primary school. The Russians were doing it, we were told. I imagined then that brains were actually washed. Later I realised that it was about repeating a falsehood till it is believed it to be true. I felt it was bad to do this to people, little realising that we too were brainwashed. We too were told falsehoods and made to believe them. Our whole society collaborated to impart certain views: Russians were bad. Heathens go to hell. God loves only Catholics.  And we children believed it.

There is reassurance and a sense of strength in belonging to a big group of likeminded people and great danger – the danger that ‘others’ who don’t belong to one’s group are eyed suspiciously and even hatred for them can be easily whipped up. And when hate is whipped up, human values, love and kindness have no place anymore and the ugly face of mankind comes to the fore. It happened in Nazi Germany, it happened in communist countries and it happened in the numerous religious wars over the centuries and is still happening in the name of religion.

Strangely, religion, which is meant to connect us with God and make us virtuous, is the major cause of conflict in our world. Yet it may not appear so strange if one takes a closer look at the two big monotheistic religions: Christianity and Islam. Both religions claim that they alone are the ‘only true religion’ and that their God is ‘the only true God’ and everyone has to join them to be saved. Naturally, this is a recipe for conflict. These supremacy claims need to be examined and shown for what they are: claims that are neither based on reason, intuition, science or common sense, depending entirely on blind faith that is indoctrinated in childhood. Unless it is generally acknowledged (which actually should be easy because it makes sense) that there is truly only one ‘God’ or however one wants to call That to which we all (Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Atheists, etc.) owe our existence, there is little chance for humanity to live in peace.

It is natural to think that one’s religion is the best and there is nothing wrong in this attitude. Or else, why would one follow it? But does anyone own the Truth? Does Truth not own us? Is Truth not upholding all of us?

UNICEF and those in education would have a task cut out for them, if they were to take up the issue of brainwashing of children into hating the ‘other’. There is, however, one problem: are those in politics, education and religion and those working for UNICEF still afflicted from their own brainwashing as children? Do they still divide humanity into those who are good and those who are bad? Into those who are right and those who are wrong? Into those who go to heaven and those who go to hell? Or can they see that we all belong to one big family whose members are different in many aspects and carry different labels, yet nevertheless we all are siblings, permeated and animated by the same life force?

by Maria Wirth 

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30 comments

  1. gp.srinivasan · · Reply

    Thank you Maria Wirth, Thank you for those positive articles. I love that article you have written about India.

    GP.Srinivasan

  2. most western european countries r slaves of usa

  3. Maria,Church always asks it disciples to look at the perfection of Jesus and follow him.The problem is that you are looking at the imperfections of the clergy of fellow Catholics and in doing so you have missed the essence of Catholicism

    1. So you say we should just not see imperfections? How about a religion being without imperfections?

    2. Abin, does the church not tell you that hindus are heathens and will go to hell? please be honest with your answer.

      1. No, modern Catholic church does not teach so. Only some aggressive Evangelical groups may say so.

        You may read Matthew 25:31-46 if interested.

        God Bless.

      2. it is still in the doctrine of the Church. you need to accept Jesus to be saved.
        yes, nowadays the Church does not mention much eternal hell, as it would lose even more people.

        i remember, that in primary school in the early 60s, a missionary had come to us from India and he made us pray for the “poor hungry heathen children of India so that they also hear of dear Jesus and are saved like us.”

        pls see my letter to the Pope
        https://mariawirthblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/open-letter-to-pope-francis/

  4. Seen your analysis which is admirable. Not only Islam, even Christians had their inquisitions and all that crap. Personally I don’t believe in religion. History says that religions have been responsible for maximum number of wars and killings. Religion creates fanaticism that perverts the human mind. And if the universal force is one which we all know as God but called differently in different religions, why so many religions? Even in one religion, sects and sub-sects start proliferating after some time. Story is same with all religions. Religions have created hatred among the human beings. In fact, so far nobody has even been able to define religion.

    1. i tried to define and to distinguish religion in another article. if you find time, kindly see also
      https://mariawirthblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/is-hinduism-a-religion/
      Maria Wirth

  5. I got to know about this blog from a Twitter post which read,”Christianity does brainwashing.”. Maybe the one who tweeted it didn’t read it. And the kind of brainwashing you are talking about is what happens in most religions, whether anything be written about other religions in their sacred books or not. I was expecting the kind of brainwashing which Christian missionaries do in India to poor people, provide them monetary or any other benefits if they convert to Christianity.

    1. Monetary benefits are not brainwashing. it is an unfair method to lure people to commit themselves to something that has far reaching consequences – for example that their kids, if not they themselves are brainwashed to believe they are superior because their religion alone is true and only members of that particular religions will be saved. All others are damned to eternal hellfire.

      The two biggest religions claim this without (of course) any evidence. It does great harm.
      No branch of Hinduism makes such unverifiable claim.

      Just wondering: is the terrorist to be blamed or his teacher who told him that he does a great thing if he kills unbelievers or the book where such ideology is gleaned from, for the mayhem?

      1. The poor people in India are of two types, One that belong to a higher position in Hinduism, and the others that do not. Now those who are in higher position do know their religion well, as they are and were always allowed to enter temples and take part in religious activities. But those who belong to lower position were never allowed to enter temples and never allowed to participate in religious activities. And it still prevails in rural areas, which are targers of Christian missionaries. Not being allowed in religious temples and activities makes these ‘Lower-caste’ people have less knowledge about Hinduism and hence they can easily be brainwashed by these missionaries by giving benefits. These missionaries very rarely give them monetary benefits, but provide them with certain other kinds of benefits which these lower caste people consider spirituality. For eg:- they put up events and showcase how the devil gave a women crippled hands or legs, and then he performs exorcisms in front of people and Voila! The man is now fine. Urban people do know that the man was not actually crippled, he was just acting in that way.
        And this is how people are brainwashed. Whether they be kids or adults.
        And also, Hinduism showcased in a global platform is a decorated one and not the one that it is in India itself. Here, there are extremist preachers who do tell people that Hinduism is far better than other religions. Though it may not be written in any sacred texts, yet they tell so.

        And about the teacher and the terrorist,
        The teacher is surely to be blamed, but also the terrorist for not having a rational and inquisitive thinking. If they had it, they would move away from them just like you did.

      2. is he really an “extremist” teacher if he says that Hinduism is far better? isn’t it true?
        regarding terrorist and teacher, you left out the book..

      3. Yes he is an extremist if he says Hinduim better than other religions, even though any such thing might not be written in sacred texts. Because the speeches of these leaders is not limited to that. When in a public speech, they talk less. But while talking to a group of people, they speak much more. I am not a Hindu. But whatever religion I believe in, I don’t say that it is better than others, except Christianity and Islam. And I say that my religion is better than those two, just because their sacred texts ask to kill people who do not believe in their religion. But I do not say that mine is better than Hinduism. In similiar way, Hinduim should not tell that their religion is better than others. But yaa, if they say it is better than Christianity and Islam, it is fine for me.

        And the book. The book is also to be blamed alongwith the teacher and the disciple. But when you study for exams, and a certain topic from a whole book is not going to come at all, then you skip it. Similiarly that particular part can be skipped by the teacher so that the disciples don’t know about it. But the teachers see their religion as a business too, which they want to expand, and for expanding it, they need to pull down competitors. How can we blame a non-living thing, which can be altered?

        Christianity and Islam need to evaluate their whole religion. A lot of people are turning atheist or satanist just because of such things written in Bible or Quran. So they should alter their texts and remove such things which makes people disbelieve Islam and Christianity.

        But maybe, the original Bible is altered into the one we read now! Maybe the original Bible is kept in those Vatican Archives. Back in those days when Bible was written, India too was rich, prosperous as UK. And in those days, UK never thought of conquering the whole world. So in those days I dont think anyone would have written that Christianity is better than others.

        Right when UK started colonizing each and every country, they took away their wealth. And when the Brits were kicked out from each country, they gave those countries Christianity. So that they can rule people indirectly, by directing them to do things in the name of Lord. People in those countries would accept Christianity because it gave them peace while the Brits harassed them by ruling over them.

        So maybe, while ruling over the countries, the altered Bible was sent to the colonized countries, and that Bible overtook the original one, and now we land here.

        Because there have been theories that original Ramayan, Mahabharata and other sacred texts of Hinduism were altered by Brits when they left India. So even the above theory of mine can be possible.

        Who knows!

  6. In a secular country children should be taught all religions then allowed to choose their faith.So that they dont follow a particular religion by accident of birth.

  7. HATE can be defused. HATE is a state, connected with the ANAHAT chakra near the heart. The other two states and love and fear. When HATE is felt, the other two FEAR and LOVE are not. The political mind knows very how to manipulate this, to shift energy from love into hatred / fear. Fighting hatred / fear is unproductive, it can instead be outwitted, to be transformed. Only NATURE CULTURE from this region can successfully address this seemingly impossible conundrum.

  8. Maria Wirth points out the downside of being labeled. If we perceive the label to be simply a technical opinion, it opens the window to the label being redefined. To achieve this, we need to get clarity on the way we have labeled ourselves !

  9. Arguments are not productive. So how can the narrative be changed ? Insight is the key to transformation of an opinion, to change the label of being a ‘ kaffir ‘ ( meaning “disbeliever”, which originally had the meaning “one without religion” And the only way to achieve this is by delighting the person who has labeled us.

  10. Only healthy human experience can delight, change hate to love. We can be respected only when we demonstrate powerfully what appears to be miraculous to them, those things which their HOLY books do not contain. The goal is NOT to dominate, only to defuse & outwit the label of being a ‘ kaffir ‘. Strategies and tactics are only to dissolve the hatred, not to overwhelm them. Nobody is superior to anyone else and we are all amazing.

  11. People who follow three Abrahamic religions today are ‘people of the book ‘. Islam says their book is the word of GOD. It serves NO useful & productive PURPOSE to counter this narrative. I submit that we are not people of any book, yet we are well aware of a Divine Consciousness that pervades us all on not just this planet, but through the universe. So we can comprehend and even appreciate the concept of ‘ ALLAH’ , ‘ JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH’ and even ‘ YAHWEH’.

  12. My evolving opinion is that we need to become aware of the label of being a religion called ‘HINDUISM’ and being branded as INDIANS, if we are to outwit a growing and dangerous and threatening situation emerging in our immediate neighbourhood. This is possible only if we change human experience of MUSLIMS in INDIA and PAKISTAN without even touching their faith and beliefs.

  13. The British have classified the majority of people from this region as belonging to a religion, classified as being HINDUS. And then in 1947, the state of Pakistan was painfully created on the basis of MUSLIM identity. Many small states were also assimilated into what is known today as INDIA. A word now becoming popular in international parlance is RADICALISATION ( RADICALIZATION ). My searching question to myself is ” Are we not also allowing ourselves to be radicalised ” ? It takes TWO hands to clap, does it not ?

  14. Nature Chemistry could be used to describe a HINDU as a person who is close to verdant and pristine Nature and lives life in alignment with her processes. And a BRAHMIN was simply one who was acquainted with BRAHMA, described to be the creator of the universe. The Brahmins were also entrusted to manage the health of society. Today, many people hate Brahmins, holding them responsible for the oppression and trauma in society. Today, some of us have understood that increasing pollution from use of fossil fuel in cold regions in the distant past impacted the minds of Brahmins which resulted in loss of powers of intuition and clairvoyance, and they failed to deliver the expectations of the community.

  15. Our strength is our CULTURE, and I use this word technically, not describing the social aspects which would normally appear in minds when they hear this word, CULTURE. It is just like the CULTURE we use to make curd from milk. Religion needs to be given just 5% marks, but CULTURE must be awarded 95% marks. Our CULTURE needs repair and healing, now I say this word in context of NATURE CHEMISTRY, not social aspects….. We need to become aware of our latent powers to transform our region and this will also result in transforming our adverseries ( PAKISTAN and CHINA )

  16. It is technically interesting that ISLAM and ‘ HINDUS ‘ follow the LUNAR cycles ( calendar ) The moon plays an important part in making healing chemistry possible and human life could not have existed without the moon rays. To give you an example, poor people in South India would cut a tree on AMAVAS night ( ‘ New moon ‘ ) then come at their convenience later in the following days to process the wood to build their homes. No termites would ever come to eat this wood. The ability to capture such phenomenon and integrate them into a technology became possible only due to collective observations and mythological depictions and stories of our traditional culture.

  17. There is no point in discussing theory, philosophy and postures which do not lead to resolution. With hardening of stand of compliance with a book ( operating manual ) believed to be HOLY, only a refreshing way to create insight with delighting such believers can be successful. Only when we can demonstrate pathways to successfully addressing the core issues threatening just everyone such as issues of water, food, health, energy, violence, storms, floods, earthquakes,et al will we be recognised for our true worth. The enabler of this is our culture which extended upto BALI in INDONESIA. The key to the pathways to the final solution is an an ancient myth of SAMUDRAMANTHAN exemplified in a gigantic mural in BANGKOK airport in THAILAND. So it is not useful to use the word INDIA nor HINDU RELIGION if we are to ever propose a paradigm which is truly inclusive to not just the followers of the Abrahamic religions but also to Atheists and even Communists. It is necessary for them to see reflection of their understanding in the proposed paradigm viz THE NATURE PARADIGM.

  18. My confidence in this approach is only due to encouragement from TANZANIA, KENYA, SULTANATE OF OMAN, U. A. E. , PAKISTAN & MALAYSIA. I must share that prominent MUSLIMS from one of these countries said that what I was suggesting was reflected in the HOLY QURAN ! But I did not speak a word of Religion, only technology based on nature phenomenon which even the Saudis could appreciate with revelation that satellite analysis revealed three underground streams feeding the ZAM ZAM well in MECCA to create healing water which if imbibed in faith could address any disease. Our myth of SAMUDRAMANTHAN speaks of AMRUT over which the Divine DEVAS and Evil ASURAS fought as it decide whether Heaven or the Underworld would dominate.

  19. Attempt to dominate with ingenious approaches by followers of religions of the book are leading to worsening conflict and confrontation everywhere. The media is full of discouraging news reports. I thank MARIA WIRTH for her analysis which inspired me to respond, to convey that there is still realistic hope to completely turn around the direction into which we find ourselves plunging. I follow Justice Katju’s posts and often observe him saying that PAKISTAN and INDIA will once again be united just like East and West Germany and unification of Italy. We need to give PAKISTANIS a reason to desire to be united with us and it can happen only with cultural technology. Religion will continue to be important but take a back seat because religions are unable to deliver peace and prosperity in an inclusive manner, while the culture to which we come from can provide practical solutions to address the greatest challenges facing humanity, even global warming, pollution, failing financial systems and growing threat of nuclear war, biological and chemical weapon besides psychological warfare. This country called INDIA would have done better for the region if it has exploded PEACE BOMBS instead of NUCLAER BLASTS which have dragged this region into a nuclear race and taxing us with purchase of military infrastructure and weapons. Let us not lose focus of shifting energy from HATE and FEAR to LOVE in the ANAHAT ( Heart ) Chakra.

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