Jacob Brier: The Indoctrination of a Nation
“Our experiences socialize us into a society that prioritizes some groups over others. This is why we must take the time and energy to explicitly consider other groups; those who remain under-represented, today.”
Shielding people from knowledge that conflicts with their views is indoctrination, and it is inappropriate. Learning about people who are different from oneself, whether or not one agrees with the nature of that difference, is neither indoctrination nor inappropriate.
This topic of indoctrination is broadcast loudly and often paired with criticism of “woke” culture or something of that nature. However, a false reality is being presented. When challenged to define “woke,” the broadcasters do not actually do so. If they did, it would harm their cause to admit “woke” simply refers to anything that deviates from the norms with which they are comfortable.
Even locally, where most people endorse forward progress, the “traditional American values” that we are repeatedly told are “being destroyed,” remain as the primary values in most situations.
More often than not, white, Christian, heterosexual, cisgender people are prioritized. This persists across education, public engagement, expectations of decorum, policy setting, and more. We have all been indoctrinated. This has gone on for our nation’s entire history. We fought the Revolutionary War because colonists didn’t have representation in England. When those colonists won their freedom, many people living in the United States still did not have representation, and would not for decades, or centuries.
Our experiences socialize us into a society that prioritizes some groups over others. This is why we must take the time and energy to explicitly consider other groups; those who remain under-represented, today.
A culture perpetuated by indoctrination helps to ensure those who hold power will retain it. There is tremendous push-back in order to maintain the status quo. This push-back comes from two groups; those who vocally oppose change, and those who allow their comfort to slow the pace of necessary change while claiming to value antiracism and gender equality, and to oppose intolerance and discrimination.
Among a sea of books, a few that include characters who do not align within the boxes of the white, cisgender, heterosexual, Christian patriarchy, will not indoctrinate anybody to be woke. Learning about our diversity will not force anybody to do, think, or act a certain way. Including these groups in advertising, on beer cans, or as the lead characters in movies is a sign of progress; accepting our neighbors. Familiarity with other people and different cultures builds empathy and understanding, and mitigates the traditional indoctrination that persists in the United States America.
Learning about people who are different from oneself, whether or not one agrees with the nature of that difference, is not inappropriate. Shielding people from knowledge that conflicts with one’s views is definitively indoctrination. We should stop our historical indoctrination and begin to accept our neighbors, as they are.
Jacob Brier is a Community Advocate, and Organizational Engagement Consultant and a former Barrington Town Councilor.