Cong Corrales .
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” — Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese-American philosopher (Jan. 6, 1883-April 10, 1931)
I HAVE read the word “brainwashing” countless times in my favorite cloak-and-dagger novels — books like the Jason Bourne trilogy and The Manchurian Candidate. Yet, this word has been bandied about at the Senate hearing lately like it is some sort of verified psychological procedure. It is not.
Merriam-Webster defines the word as “a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, religious beliefs, and attitudes to accept contrasting regimented ideas.” With this definition, it is not hard to understand where the shining new senator is coming from.
“Alam niyo mahirap talaga ma-reverse yan kung talagang malalim na ang brainwashing na natanggap ng isang bata,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Sen. Ronald dela Rosa as saying last week.
But how exactly does brainwashing work? Where and when was it first used? If there was indeed a successful “forcible indoctrination,” how can we fight against it? From what dela Rosa has been mumbling at the halls of the Senate, I can only surmise that this is an alarming occurrence that should be stopped. Immediately!
According to Julia Layton, a lecturer at the University of Colorado Denver, brainwashing was first heard off during the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, when Korean and Chinese captors supposedly brainwashed American prisoners of war. Several prisoners reportedly confessed to crimes they did not commit and pledged allegiance to communism by the end of their captivity.
The Americans were so intrigued of the idea that they sent Edward Hunter, an operative of the Central Intelligence Agency, to investigate the phenomenon.
“The intent is to change a mind radically so that its owner becomes a living puppet — a human-robot — without the atrocity being visible from the outside. The aim is to create a mechanism in flesh and blood, with new beliefs and new thought processes inserted into a captive body. What that amounts to is the search for a slave race that, unlike the slaves of olden times, can be trusted never to revolt, always to be amenable to orders, like an insect to its instincts,” Hunter wrote on his report.
To cause the drastic change of someone’s way of thinking without the person’s consent, Layton added, a combination of severe compliance method, persuasion approach, and education method will have to be employed in an extended period of time.
“Because brainwashing is such an invasive form of influence, it requires the complete isolation and dependency of the subject, which is why you mostly hear of brainwashing occurring in prison camps or totalist cults,” wrote Layton.
However, Layton pointed out that of the more than 20,000 American prisoners held in socialist countries during that war, only 21 refused to come back to the United States and pledge allegiance to communism.
Twenty-one of 20,000 American prisoners are a minuscule 0.1050 percent. That amount of “conversion” rate plus the effort and time spent on brainwashing the American prisoners can hardly be called cost-efficient.
With this historical context of brainwashing, is the senator positing then that progressive youth organizations like League of Filipino Students, Anakbayan, and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines herded hordes of young people into concentration camps for months at a time? If they did, as the senator is suggesting that the situation is “talagang malalim,” wouldn’t we be able to locate at least one of these camps? Please do bear in mind that these organizations have had tens of thousands of members over the years.
Let’s say for the sake of humoring the senator, that these youngsters have been “forcibly indoctrinated.” How should we fight it? I suggest two things to stop being brainwashed.
First, don’t believe all that you read. Like what American humorist George Carlin said in one of his skits: “Don’t just teach your children to read. Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”
Second, don’t buy into fear or scare tactics. Nazi leader Hermann Göring once said: “All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
I admit I was a little perturbed when I watched the senate hearing last week of a crying mother of one youngster who was allegedly kidnapped by Anakbayan and was reportedly brainwashed. It was dramatic. But the fact of the matter is, you do not own your children. They are not like some chattels which you can dictate its outcome. These are people who have futures which we, the parents, do not belong to. Don’t deter them from choosing a path you were afraid or unaware of when you were young. You had your chance. It is their time now.
Like, ultimately, your children will have to choose their own paths in this world.
Talking of choice, which is what joining an organization really is, I remember the movie The Matrix. At the start of The Matrix trilogy, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburn) offers Neo/Henderson (Keanu Reeves) two pills before they could go about the premise of what the matrix was all about. The pills were colored blue and red.
If Neo chooses the blue pill, he would go back to being comfortable with the false security the matrix offers. If he chooses the red pill, Neo would be made aware of the truth of the world. It would be a difficult and painful choice. Since the truth, at least in the movie, is that humans are mentally trapped and placated within the matrix so they can continue to produce energy for the alien overlord.
The choice of the youth to choose either the red pill or the blue pill is entirely up to them. Again, you do not own your children. In conclusion, I dare ask the question: Who is brainwashing who in our Republic these days? Pfft.