This is a commentary and review of a speech given by Dr. William E. Mayer on January 4, 1960 to the Brigham Young University Student Body. Given our social climate today, this article is even more significant for us today.
Never before in history has it been possible for so many people to get so much education as it is today. Yet never before in our history has there been the need which exists today for you to have not only the technical and special educations which you are pursuing here, but also to have the wisdom, the understanding, the ability to solve problems, and the power to discriminate and to be critical in your thinking.
This is Dr. Mayer’s opening remarks. 55 years later, we have the technological advances to where an individual is able to access information, obtain an education, and to continue to be an influence within their families, community and nation. It may also be safe to say that our culture and social construct is moving more and more to a global market place of ideas. What is stressed in this opening remark concerns the following:
- Ability to problem solve
- Discriminate through critical thinking
Not only do we live in an age where information is very accessible, we are living in a age where misinformation is also perpetuated. Because of the enormous amount of misinformation perpetuated through the internet, there is a lack in wisdom and understanding, an inability to problem solve, and the lack of discrimination through critical thinking. How this has come to be will be examined throughout this article and the harm it has created in our social construct today – including within Christian faith and belief systems, and more specifically within and without the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
There are at least four important and serious problems confronting our culture and our civilization at this moment. They are all interrelated, and some of them are even made by Us as we become more and more successful in providing security and comfort for everyone. Some of them are created by the existence in the world today of the most successful, the most dedicated enemy that this system of life has ever faced. I see these questions primarily presented in the following four categories:
First, is man basically a material phenomenon or a spiritual one? This is a question which is not resolved to the satisfaction of much of the world.
Secondly, is democracy, or concept of democratic or republican form of government, a workable system of government? Merely because we have existed for many years in this country under this system does not mean that we have, by any means, proven that our system is workable, under any and all conditions. We have not proven this to the satisfaction of the rest of the world.
Thirdly, have we been so successful in providing material security and comfort for ourselves and our children and our old people that we are in danger of destroying ourselves with our own success? Are we becoming so soft, so well protected, so unchallenged, that we are no longer developing the kind of vitality necessary to survive in what is still, in many respects, a hostile and dangerous world?
Finally, is this new kind of social philosophy called communism-called “the peoples democracy” or a new form of communist-socialism-is it inevitable? Does this represent social progress that must ultimately occur?
The focal point of this speech rests upon the brainwashing techniques conducted among American young men who became prisoners of war during the Korean War. Today, there is evidence of brainwashing of all forms happening throughout our daily lives. From the simple messages of consumer ads and marketing strategies, to political commentary and discussion. In fact, many members of the Church have left and join the ranks of some Evangelical Christians in saying how the Mormon Church itself engages in brainwashing, starting with young impressionable children.
One of the more significant brainwashing techniques that has occurred in our society stems from the sexual revolution in which majority of the marketing ads we read, see, and hear about are highly sexualized. This phenomenon is not going away either. In 2009, a book was published through Random House titled So Sexy So Soon authored by Diane Levin, Ph.D and Jean Kilbourne Ed.D
Dr. Mayer is also correct in his words regarding critical thinking. Today, more than ever, speaking out against something that is interpreted as immoral (based on absolute moral values) within social construct and context becomes a sentence of intolerance, bullying, and even potential legal costs and consequences.
In our culture, we have seen more and more progressive movements toward socialistic agenda’s and ideals. This is accomplished through the dismantling of Christian values at record speed. An organization is devoted to the removal of any Christian religious symbolism, expression of Christian experience and faith, and even the belief of Christian principles in our nation:
The history of Western civilization shows us that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion. In modern times the first to speak out for prison reform, for humane treatment of the mentally ill, for abolition of capital punishment, for women’s right to vote, for death with dignity for the terminally ill, and for the right to choose contraception, sterilization and abortion have been freethinkers, just as they were the first to call for an end to slavery. The Foundation works as an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church.
The latter part from the Freedom From Religion website misuses the term “separation of state and Church”. In reality, the goal is to free all people from religious thought, expression, practice and move toward a more palatable expression of atheism.
In the Book of Mormon, we read the account of what happens when this type of governance overtakes the people. One account is contained in Alma Chapter 46. The chapter heading sums it up this way:
Amalickiah conspires to be king—Moroni raises the title of liberty—He rallies the people to defend their religion—True believers are called Christians—A remnant of Joseph will be preserved—Amalickiah and the dissenters flee to the land of Nephi—Those who will not support the cause of freedom are put to death. About 73–72 B.C.
Today, we have leaders that speak many flattering words that have people praising and clamouring for their heroic efforts. Yet, behind the scenes, we know there is deadly venom in their words. Their agenda is to destroy the liberty and peace we were afforded in this great nation. Today, we read the disdain for symbolism of our country’s heritage. The call to remove the Confederate flag. The constant news of criminals being heralded as heroes and heroes judged, convicted and slandered as criminals. Dr. Mayer thoroughly explains this devastating technique:
I would like to discuss what happened to about ninety-five per cent of the prisoners. These ninety-five per cent were in the Army because it was mostly Army troops that were captured. They were held in groups, and while it is very interesting to talk about being held individually in a dungeon in the Soviet Union or in Communist China, this is not really the problem that faces us today as a people. The problem is: What happens to people when they are held in groups? It is possible to say that what was done to these people is brain-washing, if by brain-washing you really are referring to a process of applied social psychology designed for one specific purpose. That purpose is the successful control of humans in groups, minimizing the possibility of their resistance, and keeping them from conspiring and starting what the Communists call a counter-revolution; yet, at the same time, not driving such enormous wedges among them that they cannot work together and be productive. This is what I think is brain-washing.
Now this is a weapon-it is a weapon of the twentieth century, and a weapon of the very first order of magnitude. In consonance with current materialistic trends in our country we have a tendency to think of weapons in terms of material gadgets, and we have some beautiful gadgets. In fact, we have some gadgets today that are so effective that we can do an amount of physical damage equivalent, in all respects, to the sum total of everything that was fired or exploded by every participant on all sides in World War II. We can do thatamount of damage in less than one minute. This is true. We can do this with our existing weapons systems.
Therefore, it is easy to think that the ultimate weapon is a missile with the kind of a war head that is a system for destroy people and property. Yet, if there is an ultimate weapon in the world today, it is no different than the ultimate weapon that existed two thousand years ago. The ultimate weapon of which we speak is man and his thoughts and hisideas.
Now the ultimate weapon of the Communist state is this kind of brain-washing. It is certainly far more effective than any destructive weapon in their possession. A simple review of their success will reveal how effective this weapon actually is for the control of masses of people who are essentially and basically no different from you. You see it has been only forty-two years and three months since there was not: a single communist society on the face of the whole earth-not a village, not a city not a state. No group of human beings was governed by the Communists and yet, in this brief moment of history, the Communists have taken over and now control more than one out of every three living human beings. One-third of the earth-actually it is much more than that now-lives in a in a Communist dictatorship and most of the people included in that third are not Communists. The Communists are now working very hard on the second third. This is a third we, ourselves, are working on-the neutralist and the uncommitted nations. They are the so-called backward or underprivileged nations of the Middle East and much of Africa. At the moment, the Communists are having far greater success in these areas than we are in this so-called Cold War.
How have the Communists come to take over and control a third of the human race in such a short period? I believe much of the explanation, quite aside from the slave labor camps and the development of a program that involved some arbitrary executions, and the established fact that they have killed over 20 million people in Asia in the last ten years, aside from these things, the weapon of indoctrination-re-education, social controls, and using applied and valid concepts of psychiatry and psychology-accounts for their success.
Let me show you just a little of how this worked. The average soldier in a fox hole in Korea expected that, if he were captured by this diabolical oriental enemy, they would surely use diabolical, oriental, Fu Manchu-type techniques. They imagined the burning bamboo splinters under the finger nails, water poured in the nose, and all the other classical variations on company discipline in the Far East. Actually these things are serious under-estimates of this kind of enemy. The Communists turned out to be much more sophisticated and much more civilized persons than the average G. I. or his government had any reason to suspect. For example, when the majority of the soldiers were captured-and they were largely captured in groups. There they would be introduced to a young Chinese who was to be what they called an “instructor.” Now this Chinese instructor wore no uniform, carried no weapons and spoke excellent, U.S.-type, colloquial, 1950 English. There was no “no tickee, no washee,” talking done by these people. This young Chinese instructor was distributed in the ratio of about one to every twenty to thirty American prisoners. He would stand up before his little group of freshly-captured soldiers who were expecting a bullet in the back of the head or some other brutal treatment, and he would say to them, and this is a verbatim quote:
“Gentlemen, we welcome you to the ranks of the People’s Democracy. We are happy to have liberated you from the imperialist Wall Street warmongers that sent you here. We know you didn’t start the war. We know you didn’t ask to come here. We feel that you are members of the people as we, ourselves, are. We feel that you and we have a common enemy and that common enemy is the rich man who wages war for profit, who sends you to be killed so that Standard Oil and General Motors and U.S. Steel and IBM can make more money.”
“You Just cooperate with us,” he would say. “Don’t fight us! In return for your simple physical cooperation we are offering you these rewards.” And just like so many advertising pitches today, these rewards were too good to be true.
The first reward was no work. “There are no slave camps here,” he would say. “There are no road gangs or coal mines. This is the propaganda the rich men want you to believe. They, incidentally, also own your newspapers and radio stations and print your textbooks and your comic books. This is how they get you to fight a war. But we have no slave camps. There will be no work.”
Number two: “We will give you the best food and clothing and shelter and medical care that we possibly can. It won’t be good by your standards because we are a poor country. We have lived in your country and know how good it is. But we will give you the best we have.”
Finally, “We will give you the chance to learn the truth about your country and about ours-about the poor down-trodden masses and workers of the world who are finally throwing off their shackles and chains and striking out against these enemies of mankind.”
Then the Chinese would end his little speech by saying this: “All we are asking from you is a little American fair play.” Try and put yourself in the position of a G. I. just out of his foxhole. He has just been disarmed, and is expecting to be killed. Then here is a fellow talking to him and saying: “Just listen to our side of the story. Hear us out. You have always been taught to listen to both sides; we know that Americans are fair. When you have heard us out, you make up your own mind, and then when the warmongers let this war end and let you go home, when Standard Oil and General Motors have made enough profits, when they let you go home, then go home to your own fine homes and good families and just tell them the truth as you yourself decide the truth to be.”
So it was that the Communists embarked upon an educational program that followed standard communist lines. It was a classical kind of thing that we have heard for years in this country in an attempt to drum up the class war: the have nots” against the “haves;” the concept that the rich will exploit the poor increasingly; we will over-produce; we will have to have wars in order to use up this over-production. They talked about the rich men in America and the crimes against society that they have committed. They talked about sweat shops and child labor. They talked about murdering, plant police which, they said,every big business hired to shoot down innocent labor union organizers. They talked about the Imperial Valley in our own neighbor state of California where Americans, in the ‘thirties, sometimes worked all day for a dollar a day-that dollar was paid to a working family of five. They talked about the westward expansion of the railroads. They talked about the garment factories before the I. L. G. W. U. cleaned them up. They talked about longshoremen and their problems. They talked about company script in coal mines. Do you remember that song, “Sixteen Tons”? It was popular right about that time.
This educational program went on all day, every day, seven days a week. It was not like anything here, nothing like any university of our acquaintance: Their program involved lectures lasting three and four hours every morning, attended mainly in a standing-up position and outdoors because it is so difficult to go to sleep standing up outdoors. The lectures were followed by long discussion groups often extending well into the night. These discussion groups were of ideal, teachable size-eight, ten, twelve students, no more. They had athletic programs and little theater groups. They had camp newspapers and libraries in each camp.
This was not like any captivity that we had ever known before. They developed an informing system among the prisoners based on the idea that you informed so as to improve the welfare of the whole people. Therefore, you informed on somebody who swiped a little food, or you informed on somebody who took advantage of someone else or who had the wrong “attitude” about the “People’s Democracy.” They encouraged such informing because they never punished the man who was informed upon. They just talked to him in a sort of heart-to-heart fashion and begged him to confess that he was wrong. They merely wanted him to try to be better and see the error of his ways. So it seemed sort of benign and simple.
But let us look at the results of this seemingly benign program. There were seven thousand captured and yet only four thousand of these men survived to come home. Yet they were not executed by the Chinese, nor were they systematically starved.
In examining this, it would still be nicest to say, “Well, this is the Communist technique and this is what they can foster among people. It is somehow magical, but they can never reach us! Americans don’t give in to this sort of thing naturally. Maybe in a POW camp in a miserable country they might, but not really-not us.”
Dr. Mayer continues with what is learned from this technique and its impact on the life of individuals:
First, the idea of resisting consistently and forever, if necessary, never caught on. The will to resist what you truly believe to be wrong simply never caught on. about half the men who died, died of a disease the prisoners themselves had to name and which they called, “Give-up-itis.” It was a silly-sounding and fatal disease. It was a disease in which the youngster would go into his hut in North Korea and look despairingly around the place which was to be his home for the next two or three years. He had no trust in himself, or in his fellowmen, or in the Lord. He would pull his blanket over his head and tell the rest of the people, “You leave me alone!” Within forty-eight hours that man was dead. He was not insane. He was not starved. He was just dead.
We also saw among them an abdication of a sense of individual loyalty and thus the growth of the informing system. It developed on the idea that individual loyalty is really not the important thing. This is where the Communists say our system is false. They say that man is not a divine creation. Man, as an individual, has no special meaning and deserves no special devotion or loyalty. So men died sometimes. If not at the hands of their fellow Americans, these men died because of the defections of fellow Americans who would not help them eat when they were sick, who would not keep them warm when they were freezing. They died, and they died.
Finally, we saw among these men a concept that authority and leadership are incompatible with democracy. We saw the Communists constantly try to promote the concept that leaders as we know them-the elected man, the man who emerges as a leader in a crisis-are self-seeking opportunists, poisonous individualists who lead only for their own own rewards. Thus it was that no sergeant, no colonel, no private first class was ever able to take command. Over and over again, men died because they rejected the command of those older and wiser than themselves.
All this is quite familiar to those who are open to hear the truth. America has long been under attack. Our republican democratic process under attack, not with terrorism, with brainwashing techniques that disavow individual loyalty to moral absolutes, to liberating Christian values and principles. This attack is not even something developed in our time. It is a system that belongs to the very instigator of hatred and murderous intent – the Adversary himself:
It is plain from the words of Isaiah that Lucifer, already of exalted rank, sought to aggrandize himself without regard to the rights and agency of others. The matter is set forth, in words that none may misapprehend, in a revelation given to Mosesand repeated through the first prophet of the present dispensation: “And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.”
Thus it is shown that prior to the placing of man upon the earth, how long before we do not know, Christ and Satan, together with the hosts of the spirit-children of God, existed as intelligent individuals,h possessing power and opportunity to choose the course they would pursue and the leaders whom they would follow and obey.i In that great concourse of spirit-intelligences, the Father’s plan, whereby His children would be advanced to their second estate, was submitted and doubtless discussed. The opportunity so placed within the reach of the spirits who were to be privileged to take bodies upon the earth was so transcendently glorious that those heavenly multitudes burst forth into song and shouted for joy.
Satan’s plan of compulsion, whereby all would be safely conducted through the career of mortality, bereft of freedom to act and agency to choose, so circumscribed that they would be compelled to do right—that one soul would not be lost—was rejected; and the humble offer of Jesus the Firstborn—to assume mortality and live among men as their Exemplar and Teacher, observing the sanctity of man’s agency but teaching men to use aright that divine heritage—was accepted. The decision brought war, which resulted in the vanquishment of Satan and his angels, who were cast out and deprived of the boundless privileges incident to the mortal or second estate. (See Jesus the Christ – Talmage)
We see evidence of this in the hearts of men today. We see the dissatisfaction of one’s position and lust for another’s wealth and gain -all in the name of “I have that right to be equal with you.” Our social values have diminished significantly. Yet, this is all fulfillment of prophesy that in the last days, men will become lovers of themselves and will trade in a form of Godliness for their own desires. Scripture has repeatedly declared that our natural man is at war with God. John opens his gospel with how light has come and men love darkness rather than light -for the simple fact that when they come into the light of truth, their vileness is shown for what it really is.
Dr. Mayer concludes:
What Is wrong with us, therefore, today? What is wrong with you and me and people just like us? It is not some creeping disease of juvenile and adult delinquency. What is wrong seems to be, or seemed among these men to be, a failure to commit themselves to a moral and ethical system of values. In the final analysis, this is the difference between surviving and not surviving. the greatest value system of all lies in Christianity, and the two most important values are the first two commandments given by Jesus. He said the most important were loving God and loving thy neighbor. These values were the difference between those who survived and those who did not.
No matter how technical or materially secure we become, no matter how good we become at school teaching or at business or at the biological or physical sciences, we can never abandon as our primary concern the communication about these fundamental values. Adherence and commitment to the values make it possible-alone make it possible-for free men to live as free men and survive.
This is where we have to ask ourselves, even more so today, what is wrong with us? Have we failed to commit to the moral and ethical system of values that are hallmarks of the Christian life? The Gospel of Christ, as preached in the First Century, was counter to the Gospel of Rome – the then known world empire. Today, the Restored Gospel as it is being preached is set against the backdrop of the Gospel of the World empires that seem to converge rapidly into one grand empire. The stage is set, the time has come, more than ever to stand for truth and righteousness knowing God has already conquered all and men will be judged for their deeds in this life. Many will stand before God and make excuses, only to walk away enraged of their own failure to choose liberty and eternal life over their own seditious desires that have kept them from the truth and the light of Christ.