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How to Survive the Journey Ahead: A Graduation Message for a Terrifying Age

John W. Whitehead
May 21st, 2019
Activist Post
Comments (14) Read by 2,315 people

This article was originally published by John W. Whitehead at Activist Post.

“No matter who you are, no matter how strong you are, sooner or later, you’ll face circumstances beyond your control.” — Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones

Those coming of age today will face some of the greatest obstacles ever encountered by young people.

They will find themselves overtaxed, burdened with excessive college debt, and struggling to find worthwhile employment in a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion. Their privacy will be eviscerated by the surveillance state. They will be the subjects of a military empire constantly waging war against shadowy enemies and government agents armed to the teeth ready and able to lock down the country at a moment’s notice.

As such, they will find themselves forced to march in lockstep with a government that no longer exists to serve the people but which demands they be obedient slaves or suffer the consequences.

It’s a dismal prospect, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, we who should have known better failed to guard against such a future.

Worse, we neglected to maintain our freedoms or provide our young people with the tools necessary to survive, let alone succeed, in the impersonal jungle that is modern America.

We brought them into homes fractured by divorce, distracted by mindless entertainment, and obsessed with the pursuit of materialism. We institutionalized them in daycares and afterschool programs, substituting time with teachers and childcare workers for parental involvement. We turned them into test-takers instead of thinkers and automatons instead of activists.

We allowed them to languish in schools which not only look like prisons but function like prisons, as well—where conformity is the rule and freedom is the exception. We made them easy prey for our corporate overlords, while instilling in them the values of a celebrity-obsessed, technology-driven culture devoid of any true spirituality. And we taught them to believe that the pursuit of their own personal happiness trumped all other virtues, including any empathy whatsoever for their fellow human beings.

No, we haven’t done this generation any favors.

Based on the current political climate, things could very well get much worse before they ever take a turn for the better. Here are a few pieces of advice that will hopefully help those coming of age today survive the perils of the journey that awaits:

Be an individual. For all of its claims to champion the individual, American culture advocates a stark conformity which, as John F. Kennedy warned, is “the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth.” Worry less about fitting in with the rest of the world and instead, as Henry David Thoreau urged, become “a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.”

Learn your rights. We’re losing our freedoms for one simple reason: most of us don’t know anything about our freedoms. At a minimum, anyone who has graduated from high school, let alone college, should know the Bill of Rights backward and forwards. However, the average young person, let alone citizen, has very little knowledge of their rights for the simple reason that the schools no longer teach them. So grab a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and study them at home. And when the time comes, stand up for your rights before it’s too late.

Speak truth to power. Don’t be naive about those in positions of authority. As James Madison, who wrote our Bill of Rights, observed, “All men having power ought to be distrusted.” We must learn the lessons of history. People in power, more often than not, abuse that power. To maintain our freedoms, this will mean challenging government officials whenever they exceed the bounds of their office.

Resist all things that numb you. Don’t measure your worth by what you own or earn. Likewise, don’t become mindless consumers unaware of the world around you. Resist all things that numb you, put you to sleep or help you “cope” with so-called reality. Those who establish the rules and laws that govern society’s actions desire compliant subjects. However, as George Orwell warned, “Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after they rebelled, they cannot become conscious.” It is these conscious individuals who change the world for the better.

Don’t let technology turn you into zombies. Technology anesthetizes us to the all-too-real tragedies that surround us. Techno-gadgets are merely distractions from what’s really going on in America and around the world. As a result, we’ve begun mimicking the inhuman technology that surrounds us and have lost our humanity. We’ve become sleepwalkers. If you’re going to make a difference in the world, you’re going to have to pull the earbuds out, turn off the cell phones and spend much less time viewing screens.

Help others. We all have a calling in life. And I believe it boils down to one thing: You are here on this planet to help other people. In fact, none of us can exist very long without help from others. If we’re going to see any positive change for freedom, then we must change our view of what it means to be human and regain a sense of what it means to love and help one another. That will mean gaining the courage to stand up for the oppressed.

Give voice to moral outrage. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” There is no shortage of issues on which to take a stand. For instance, on any given night, over half a million people in the U.S. are homeless, and half of them are elderly. There are 46 million Americans living at or below the poverty line, and 16 million children living in households without adequate access to food. Congress creates, on average, more than 50 new criminal laws each year. With more than 2 million Americans in prison and close to 7 million adults in correctional care, the United States has the largest prison population in the world. At least 2.7 million children in the United States have at least one parent in prison. At least 400 to 500 innocent people are killed by police officers every year. Americans are now eight times more likely to die in a police confrontation than they are to be killed by a terrorist. On an average day in America, over 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams. It costs the American taxpayer $52.6 billion every year to be spied on by the government intelligence agencies tasked with surveillance, data collection, counterintelligence, and covert activities. All the while, since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and police the rest of the world. This is an egregious affront to anyone who believes in freedom.

Cultivate spirituality, reject materialism and put people first. When the things that matter most have been subordinated to materialism, we have lost our moral compass. We must change our values to reflect something more meaningful than technology, materialism, and politics. Standing at the pulpit of the Riverside Church in New York City in April 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. urged his listeners:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motive and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Pitch in and do your part to make the world a better place. Don’t rely on someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. Don’t wait around for someone else to fix what ails you, your community or nation. As Gandhi urged: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Say no to war. Addressing the graduates at Binghampton Central High School in 1968, at a time when the country was waging war “on different fields, on different levels, and with different weapons,” Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling declared:

Too many wars are fought almost as if by rote. Too many wars are fought out of sloganry, out of battle hymns, out of aged, musty appeals to patriotism that went out with knighthood and moats. Love your country because it is eminently worthy of your affection. Respect it because it deserves your respect. Be loyal to it because it cannot survive without your loyalty. But do not accept the shedding of blood as a natural function or a prescribed way of history—even if history points this up by its repetition. That men die for causes does not necessarily sanctify that cause. And that men are maimed and torn to pieces every fifteen and twenty years does not immortalize or deify the act of war… find another means that does not come with the killing of your fellow-man.

Finally, prepare yourselves for what lies ahead. The demons of our age—some of whom disguise themselves as politicians—delight in fomenting violence, sowing distrust and prejudice, and persuading the public to support tyranny disguised as patriotism. Overcoming the evils of our age will require more than intellect and activism. It will require decency, morality, goodness, truth, and toughness. As Serling concluded in his remarks to the graduating class of 1968:

Toughness is the singular quality most required of you… we have left you a world far more botched than the one that was left to us… Part of your challenge is to seek out truth, to come up with a point of view not dictated to you by anyone, be he a congressman, even a minister… Are you tough enough to take the divisiveness of this land of ours, the fact that everything is polarized, black and white, this or that, absolutely right or absolutely wrong. This is one of the challenges. Be prepared to seek out the middle ground … that wondrous and very difficult-to-find Valhalla where man can look to both sides and see the errant truths that exist on both sides. If you must swing left or you must swing right—respect the other side. Honor the motives that come from the other side. Argue, debate, rebut—but don’t close those wondrous minds of yours to opposition. In their eyes, you’re the opposition. And ultimately … ultimately—you end divisiveness by compromise. And so long as men walk and breathe—there must be compromise…

Are you tough enough to face one of the uglier stains upon the fabric of our democracy—prejudice? It’s the basic root of most evil. It’s a part of the sickness of man. And it’s a part of man’s admission, his constant sick admission, that to exist he must find a scapegoat. To explain away his own deficiencies—he must try to find someone who he believes more deficient… Make your judgment of your fellow-man on what he says and what he believes and the way he acts. Be tough enough, please, to live with prejudice and give battle to it. It warps, it poisons, it distorts and it is self-destructive. It has fallout worse than a bomb … and worst of all it cheapens and demeans anyone who permits himself the luxury of hating.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the only way we’ll ever achieve change in this country is for the American people to finally say “enough is enough” and fight for the things that truly matter.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your political ideology is. If you have something to say, speak up. Get active, and if need be, pick up a picket sign and get in the streets. And when civil liberties are violated, don’t remain silent about it.

Wake up, stand up, and make your activism count for something more than politics.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].

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Author: John W. Whitehead
Views: Read by 2,315 people
Date: May 21st, 2019
Website: https://www.activistpost.com/2019/05/how-to-survive-the-journey-ahead-a-graduation-message-for-a-terrifying-age.html

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14 Comments...

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  1. Menzoberranzan says:

    And always have your rifle close at hand. Always.

    • Mountain Trekker says:

      We have rejected the Ten Commandments and the God that gave them, so what should we expect. We demanded that they get God out of the schools, and we did, so now look at what we have, children that have no respect and have no direction on what is right or wrong, we have school shootings and want to blame it on the weapon and not on the person that used it, or the system that produced him, but at least we got God out of the school. Trekker Out

      • Menzoberranzan says:

        We have home schooled our children and hung tight to the Lord. They know what is being lost, they respect their elders, and they know a sidearm is used to fight their way back to their rifles… among other things..

  2. Oh, hell. The people coming of age today have more than anybody beforehand. They have the internet. They get news from their peers at the speed of light. Stop encouraging them to feel sorry for themselves and blaming their elders. It’s disgusting. And I want to be sick when Martin Luther King is held up for adulation. It is so not OK to be right.

    .

  3. They damn sure want to vote for the joker promising free college.

  4. Just the idea of government is itself already a corruption.

  5. cranerigger says:

    Lots of wisdom in this article. Life is a marathon – don’t impair yourself with drugs & alcohol. A clear head is necessary to crawl out of the holes you dig for yourself: DEBT, SUBSTANCE IMPAIRMENT, RELATIONSHIP ISSUES, etc. It takes a lot longer to clear your head than it did to impair yourself.

  6. Genius says:

    Here’s some advice for the new generation. Get sterilized and stop adding fuel to the fire. You will have a lot better chance of making a living. Don’t get married till your 50. Learn a real skill like auto mechanics or robotics that will actually be useful. Don’t choose a trade that can be replaced with robots. Don’t buy stupid shit, save your currency in metals privately. Learn to speak chinese.

    • rellik says:

      Gen,
      Virtually all my advice to the young is generally considered “terrorism” these days. I took two years of Mandarin Chinese language classes, it didn’t do me much good. I used to design, build, and program robots.
      I say this gain skills in more than one trade. There is nothing wrong with trade school or an apprenticeship( I’ve done both)
      Get a STEM degree if you can, any other degree is a waste( I have a STEM degree).
      Get married as soon as you can, I’ve been married to the same lady for nearly 42 years, she is a partner in our successes and failures, between the two of us someone is always “awake” and working.
      If a kid today grows up with parents that pay attention, it has more damn opportunities than they can easily deal with.
      America is so short of many skills, that we have to import people to fill those positions.
      The kid is fu cked only if the parents let the “village” raise it.

      • Genius says:

        relik, you are an exception to the norm. 90% of people I know have had multiple divorces, pay child support/alimony, have stupid kids, are stupid themselves, have to work all they can to pay for all these stupid mistakes, make great money and have nothing to show for it except debt up the arse. This aint 1959 it is a whole different world. I have none of these issues! I make half what the dumb fooks do and have 5X as much wealth. I work 6 months a year at most. I don’t have to buy all the bullshit xmas presents or bday presents or any other crap. I don’t spend a dime on 4th of july or halloween or any other BS holidays. I live just fine and comfy and debt free with my plan and I don’t kill myself to live. In my opinion my lifestyle is the best choice I could ever make. I had to work a lot to get here but for the last 15 years I get to enjoy myself and not be the richest man in the graveyard. I can’t imagine living like the 90% of idiots in the world I would kill myself for being such a moron.

  7. Karl V. says:

    I utterly reject the premise that “we” have “failed”, “neglected”, “allowed”, etc.

    Average people have largely been struggling just to survive since the large corporations eagerly started exporting middle-class jobs in the 1970s to cut labor costs.

    Most of the blame for our current situation can be laid at the feet of government, multinational corporations, and media conglomerates who all work in concert to consolidate power.

    Online sites are carefully crafted to be psychologically addicting; and to promote unquestioning acceptance, passivity, groupthink, information restriction, socialist ideals, materialism, and peer pressure.

    Furthermore, anyone who took the time to read “The Fate of Empires” (which was mentioned on this site a few weeks ago) will realize that America has enjoyed its moment in the sun and is now doomed to decay. This country will never be “great again”. The most we can hope for is to each preserve our families against the turmoil that lies ahead. This, after all, is what brings us to sites like this one.

  8. Clown World says:

    Marchin Looter Kang said, “profit motive and property rights are considered more important”.

    Boomer pinkos said, “Card carrying communist?”

  9. Clown World says:

    — You don’t need any degree, to own intellectual property rights.

    — Most private business consists of a pathological narcissist taking out sub-prime loans and outsourcing whichever work needs to be done.

    — The model of public business is to launder subsidies, using the bare minimum of materiel needed to be in compliance.

    College is not self realization or free agency. It generally demoralizes people to the point of being a useful tool. If, at the end of your brainwashing, you are not useful to the outside world, you may get a job in academia. Professors are just students.

    Course material has been provided by big business, and the technical courses, which they are telling you to take, often sound like infomercials, where they are telling you what brand of products to use.

    Unless there is some legally binding reason to believe that you have an inside line or the fast track, expect to be working menial labor and defaulting on the loan.

  10. Seminole Wind says:

    My advice, Buy it cheap, stack it wide and deep!

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