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PART 11: LIES OF MEN AND GODS—Learned Helplessness

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Learned helplessness is a method of manipulation based on the premise that people, subjected to an undesirable element outside their control, eventually lose the power to remove it. For example, a man may finally resign himself to the fact that he’ll keep hearing the neighbor’s barking dog because his efforts to silence the animal have failed and the pet’s owner doesn’t respond to requests for action. A parent stops fighting with school administrators regarding “required” sex-ed classes she doesn’t want her daughter attending; she’s given up because it feels as though nobody is listening and her protests aren’t getting her anywhere. An elderly man in a care facility experiences a loss of vitality; as a result, he becomes inactive, relinquishing his independence and trusting the medical staff to care for his needs.[i] Again, this type of manipulation stems from the response to a situation—more specifically, it depends on a person’s sense of empowerment.

Here’s a quick illustration of how this works, using a financial analogy. Let’s say that two people—we’ll call them Judy and Steve—are given identical budgets, and are observed to see whether they are able save any money. Judy regards saving money as hard; she won’t be able to make it work. On the other hand, Steve thinks that it’s always possible to save money, regardless of how tight the funds. When financial hardships are placed on both to impede their ability to reserve any funds, each will respond by either feeling powerless and giving up or by realizing that he/she can control his/her own destiny and thus trying even harder to reach the savings goals.

Ultimately, it’s likely that Judy won’t have set anything aside—perhaps she’ll even have spent money that she could have saved. In fact, she probably thought she might as well enjoy any extra pennies, since saving them wouldn’t amount to much, anyway. The bottom line: Judy, the unempowered money manager, won’t even try. For people with this disposition, learned helplessness can be triggered by additional hardships or by making things easy enough for them that the attitude “why try?” is fostered.

At the end of the day—or the fiscal year—Steve, however, will likely have money set aside. That’s simply because his perception of his own power over the situation compels him to create opportunities for saving. He doesn’t reach his goals because it’s easy, but by pinching pennies, making sacrifices, cutting corners, clipping coupons, and practicing other forms of fiscal ingenuity. For Steve, the empowerment he feels fuels his motivation to create his own strategic opportunities.

However, the world is full of people who aren’t fully aware of their own abilities, or whose willingness to make the effort reduces over time because of resistance. For these folks, the more obstacles they face in meeting their goals, the more likely they are to stop trying. Worse, when complacency is rewarded, it serves a double whammy against their motivation to take power over their situation.

The way we most often see this manipulation method at work in today’s society can be summed up in the old adage, “Nice guys finish last.” Many who try to act nobly or with moral integrity face lots of opposition. For instance, consider the way many tax laws financially favor couples who are living together instead of those who are legally married. As another example, think about those who believe abortion is morally wrong but quietly accept that it’s an established practice now, because fights against its legalization and practice have been so regularly lost. In the same vein, most people are aware that child abuse is a rampant problem, but because they feel powerless to keep it from happening, they do nothing. Via these and many other ways that our culture has been shaped, low moral standards have been fostered and reinforced across the populace.

Another case can be seen in those who attempt to improve their situations by working full-time jobs or starting businesses. Often, despite tight finances, they don’t qualify for certain types of public assistance that would help them greatly when added to their existing—albeit inadequate—income. However, with no money coming in, they’re eligible for a larger level of economic help and thus they experience less financial stress. At this point, some may say that public assistance is where learned helplessness comes from, but it isn’t quite as simple as that. When our civic, socioeconomic structure is aligned in such a way that those who attempt to improve their situations are at less of an advantage than those who don’t, then the lack of effort becomes a positively reinforced behavior—and entrapment. Unfortunately, over a generation, children are raised believing that they, like their adult examples, aren’t powerful enough to improve their situations. When they try, taking on that first, entry-level job, they forfeit the assistance that would otherwise be available if they weren’t working at all. Without any post-high school education, minimum-wage-paying jobs are most likely all they’re qualified to obtain. Yet again, if they attempt to improve the situation by attending college or technical school, they’ll probably be overwhelmed by scholastic and employment duties, alongside being financially strapped. This, then, reinforces the notion that it’s easier to relinquish personal power in trade for being taken care of.

In the meantime, we lavish esteem upon the government we look to for our needs—the benevolent “they” that makes our laws, collects tax money, provides public amenities, and holds increasing sovereignty over the people in order to provide protection of and care for the masses. For those who suffer from learned helplessness, there’s no reason to challenge this entity, nor would they have the means. This is the trade that’s made when relying on a higher force to meet one’s needs: submission to that authority.

The best assistance that can be implemented in the public sphere is the kind that empowers citizens to become responsible for themselves again in every way. Merely allocating resources to people, assuming full care for their needs but never teaching them how to take charge of their own situation, ultimately disempowers those they claim to be helping.




Complicate Truth

Now let’s take a look at the spiritual aspect that exists when a crowd is manipulated into misconceptions regarding truth. In the beginning, God presented absolute truths that came attached to moral values. As time progresses, mankind has migrated farther away from those boundaries, trading them in for more palatable ones. Surely, the last few centuries have transformed the kernels of modernism into the full-scale rewriting of reality through what is now termed “postmodernism.”

Before the Renaissance, cultures were homogenized, and one’s role in society was predefined and predictable. But the Renaissance ushered in intellectual, cultural, religious, and economic changes that prompted people to begin searching for deeper meaning in the weighty matters of life, including philosophy and even personal depth, meaning, fulfillment, and liberty. Humanism sparked the intrigue of those who began to see the individual as “the center of his or her own universe and…personal achievement…[as] the noblest of pursuits.”[ii] With the individual as the center of focus and personal fulfillment as the measure of success, mankind hit a new level of self-awareness. When the Gutenberg press was invented in 1450,[iii] these ideas were further propagated in two ways: 1) Reading material became available to everyone, not just to the wealthy elite or the scholarly; and 2) Publishing was more readily available to those who wished to circulate new and radical ideas. Mainstream authorship began its slow migration away from traditional and biblical perspectives and began to indulge the “new” and “enlightened” ways of thinking. While many wonderful innovations came out of this time, the Renaissance also became the historical hinge upon which the ultimate authority of Scripture began to see competition from media that offered the idea that there are other ways than God for pursuing righteousness, fulfillment, and even entry to heaven. Each trail of thought flourished to the point that, after fast-forwarding hundreds of years, we entered the modern era—which in turn has grown into postmodernism. The differences between these periods and worldviews are many, but the one that best serves our study is the fact that the Renaissance opened a search for more elaborate realities humans could find, while the most recent age, the postmodern era, seeks to redefine that which is and carve it into that which we would have it to be. As Douglas Groothuis explains: “Modernism began with the attempt to discern objective reality without recourse to divine revelation or religious tradition, which it dismissed as merely culturally contingent and ultimately superstitious.… Postmodernists affirm relativism even at the level of language itself.”[iv] In other words, our communication has changed to the point that we now define truth as being anything we perceive it to be. Truncating what could be chapters of elaboration, we land at such a simple assessment as this: It’s the shifting of “the truth” into “my truth.” The distinction looks and sounds small, but the repercussions are enormous.

When we refer to “the truth,” we assume there is a solid, universal, absolute truth that everyone shares: The sun is hot; rain makes the ground wet; cows are large animals.

When we begin to refer to “my truth,” we no longer have the common, reliable certainties that are known by all. Here’s what happens when we apply that idea to earlier truths we listed:

  • “The sun is hot.” My (Allie Henson’s) truth is that it is snowing outside, and I am cold, so the sun is not nearly hot enough.
  • “Rain makes the ground wet.” I (Allie Henson) spent a lot of my adult life in Oregon. Thus, I have seen a lot of rain in my time, so my truth is that after a light drizzle, the ground can barely be considered wet.
  • “Cows are large animals.” A cow may be large, but it is vastly outranked by hippopotami, elephants, and rhinos, so my truth is that cows are, at best, medium-sized animals.

Certainly, these statements are subjective, allowing for differing opinions as to an individual’s truth. The problem comes in when interpreting “one’s own truth” impedes our perception of absolute truth. Here’s what we mean: Show a crowd of people a brick, and they could see any number of things, such as the start of a building, a weapon, an innovation that changed the world around 7000 BC,[v] or even, if dropped, a broken toe. Yet, none of these impressions alters the fact that everyone in the group likely sees a concrete rectangle. So, where is the disconnect between each person’s truth and the fact that the brick is an inanimate, concrete block? It’s this: Everyone’s “truth” is actually his or her own perception of the brick’s potential based on his or her experience with the object; it’s not a property of the item itself.

I (Allie Henson) can say that “my truth” calls this brick a person—I can even give it a name and paint a face on it. However, the brick will never form a relationship with me. I can decide that it will be the heir to all my worldly goods, but it can certainly never spend or enjoy the money. I can call it a piece of my future house, but all it will really be is one foundational element that I will be responsible to place and build upon. Even regarding its connection to innovations in construction practices that occurred in 7000 BC, unless I’m holding one of the actual ancient bricks (which, technically, would be made of different material), I still only have a representation of that innovation. Essentially, as stated earlier, I hold a concrete rectangle, nothing more.

Some things are absolute, universal truths—whether we like it or not.

In the postmodern world we live in, the concept of reliable, fundamental truths has simply gone out of style. It is the prerogative of all people to dissect each morsel of reality under the lens of what they perceive to be their own truth; for many, it’s become an outlet for expressing individualism and/or creativity. Redefining truth with more profoundness or ingenuity than one’s predecessors becomes a challenge that, if successful, draws accolades of having the “more enlightened mind” that sees the most unique and progressive version of reality. The secularization of society has taken God, His supremacy, and His law from the center of focus and placed man in the position of the final authority by which our own standards of morality and fulfillment come. As this revolution has occurred, mankind has placed himself on his own throne of deity, and those who still believe in and follow God are seen as old-fashioned, unevolved, stuck in their ways, and hateful. Eventually, their statements (and even their faith) are at risk of being labeled as hate speech, censored, and legislated.

Having abandoned common belief in a God who imposes absolute truth/moral law, we no longer have a common thread of right and wrong to unite us. See the following excerpt from Unscrambling the Millennial Paradox:

If there is no God, there is no standard by which morality is required to be measured. And if morality is left completely up to individual preferences [filtered through such subjectivities as “my truth”], then we can decide that acts previously considered sinful or even heinous are no longer immoral based upon personal enjoyment. [We can see this progression through the evolution of depravity portrayed on movies and media in comparison with increased conservatism of decades past]. Some individuals even escalate this philosophy by believing that God is a mere state of mind or other attribute found in each of us. Beyond this, people then were given a path by which they could literally choose their own reality, free of judgment from others.[vi]

It has taken years for us to get here, but know one thing: Complicating truthful perspectives will be a tool used to groom the masses to embrace unthinkable deeds.

Skew the Perspective on Love

Despite the fact that many people would like to assert their autonomy apart from God, a recurrent theme throughout history says that mankind wants to be connected to a divine authority. Those who study human nature throughout the ages often draw the common conclusion that mankind, of his own accord, consistently comes up with a religious system that involves such powers as good, evil, and hierarchies of entities embracing both factions.[vii] Other than the modern Western culture, few civilizations have evolved to become free of religious belief. Some have even claimed that there is such a thing as a “God gene:…the need for God [which] may be a crucial trait stamped deeper and deeper into our genome with every passing generation.”[viii] This is reinforced by anthropologists who repeatedly discover “tribes living in remote areas [who] come up with a concept of God as readily as nations living shoulder to shoulder…[which makes] a fairly strong indication that the idea is preloaded in the genome rather than picked up on the fly.”[ix]


“THE LIES OF MEN AND GODS–EPISODE 2”: What’s Behind Flying Seraphim, Reptilians, And Portals Opening Above Mountains

“THE LIES OF MEN AND GODS–EPISODE 1”: The Vatican, Aliens, and Government Elites. Is It All a Coincidence?

In addition to cultural studies linking various civilizations to the compulsion toward religion, we see that when people are is separated from the notion of a Higher Power, they often feel listless, depressed, lost, or without purpose. While many assert themselves to be the center of their own universe, they often experience an emptiness that’s hard to account for in a postmodern, “enlightened” state of mind. Yet, many are surprised to learn that, following the Renaissance, a sweeping melancholy brushed across much of the population. Termed the “Renaissance Melancholy,” it was the depressed and directionless aftermath of “enlightenment” many experienced when they realized that the exchange they made for their illumination was the stability and absolute reality that came with believing in a Higher Power. (Maybe most people haven’t heard about this because of selective omission?)

We read in one article about this period that “human action was [no longer] judged in terms of right and wrong or good and evil…but in…concrete validity, effectiveness, and beauty…once the unity of design had lost its authority, certainty about the final value of human actions was no longer…found.”[x]

Studies on this subject abound, and curious readers will find that we’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg. Suffice it to say, it’s more than believable theory that something deep inside each of us desires to be connected to God. After all, we were created to live in community with Him and with each other, in a beautiful garden setting where all our needs were provided. Unfortunately, at the Fall of Man, we lost access to that environment wherein we were created to live, and since then, our plight has been to try to recreate and reenter this type of utopia. Equally unfortunate is the fact that we can never reproduce the ideal conditions our Maker originally assigned for us. (This is why every attempt to create heaven on earth ends in a lackluster, troubled version of communal living, often under the authority of a sometimes-crazed leader who likely has a skewed sense of authority or religion.)

Since the human race was removed from the Garden, we’ve compensated for the loss by polarizing between two pursuits: chasing God relentlessly and trying to narrow the gap between ourselves and the Almighty. The second—which, sadly, occurs more often—involves running farther from God, denying our need for Him, and filling the resulting breach with other attempts to numb the pain and fill in the empty place. When all efforts to satiate the desire for a connection to the Supreme come up short, we attempt to “repress…[our] desire for love because…[this unmet need] leaves us vulnerable to being hurt.”[xi] God is aware of this aching in the human soul and meets this need by offering the remedy in the two most important commandments He gave: 1) that we have no other Gods before Him (Exodus 20:3) and 2) that we love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37–39). These instructions are first in God’s eyes because He knows the level of destruction that is caused when our capacity for and understanding of love are tampered with. By prioritizing these commandments, He shows us that the first thing He wants to do when we surrender to Him is heal that vital aspect of our injured souls.

When our comprehension of love is skewed, our desires fall out of alignment and our affections are at risk of being hijacked by counterfeit contenders that invade our lives and mislead us. When our love is first for God and secondly for one another as He intends, we avoid many of the pitfalls that so easily befall us because of the way we vet our every action. If we don’t keep these “love priorities” as our guiding principles, we’re at risk of forming attachments that captivate our passions but lead us into dark territories. This may seem like an oversimplified strategy of manipulation in a chapter that outlines other, more technical methods, yet this one likely is the most subversive and difficult to arm ourselves against, because it tangles the heart instead of the mind. When we become fixated on and infatuated with pursuits God hasn’t ordained for us, the attachment becomes “nailed, to specific behaviors, objects, or people…[and becomes] the process that enslaves desire and creates the state of addiction.”[xii] (The author in that reference is referring to any unhealthy compulsion that commandeers our passions and drives us to engage in unhealthy habits, friendships, or activities. Much more is on the line than substance addiction.) Collectively, a skewed understanding of love is a dangerous trait. What, as a society, are people passionate about? These authors observe many behaviors and activities that have been mistaken and even substituted for love—and always with destructive consequences. For example, sex is often mistaken for love, which causes many seeking love to become intimate with countless people. Yet, they yet remain unfulfilled and keep searching, because the thing they desperately seek—again, love—cannot be found in physical gratification. Similarly, some use food as a replacement for love, which has contributed to such health epidemics as obesity and diabetes. As we look to find and exchange love in a world that is increasingly detached from the very definition of the word, we find ourselves facing a paradox: If it’s true that “whatever we are ultimately concerned with is God for us,”[xiii] then, when we look at what captivates and preoccupies our society, we see what this culture’s gods are. What/who are these gods? On the dark end of the spectrum, they are fear, loneliness, depression, isolation, and abuse. On the other extreme, these emotions are channeled into the search for love by manifesting in the desire to join a cause, to engage in something worth fighting for, to gain validation of our human reasoning, and to follow a “truth” that all can agree upon and accept, once and for all. Do these sound like the pursuits that demand the attention of modern society? We believe they are a clear summation.

We can see how closely these efforts reflect a large-scale need for God. The dark emotions experienced by today’s society express the need for a Savior. The participation in positive activities—causes—shows a generation looking for righteous undertakings. Yet, these efforts are exploited by the gods of this world that distract us from the underlying pain of separation from our Maker with superficial exploits that pretend, momentarily, to fill the void but leave us empty. Ultimately, through this confusion about love, what it is, where we find it, and where we should direct it, we’ve become our own gods, preoccupied with our own reason, and the powers that be are perfectly willing to sit back and watch members of society destroy themselves, at their own expense, in the search for love and spiritual fulfillment.

UP NEXT: The Enemy Is Patient

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[i] Burger, Jerry. Personality, 10th edition. (Boston, MA: Cengage Learning; 2018), 363.

[ii] Anderson, Allie. Unscrambling the Millennial Paradox: Why the “Unreachables” May Be Key to the Next Great Awakening. (Crane, MO: Defender Publishing; 2019) 32.

[iii] “ Editors.” Accessed December 5, 2018.

[iv] Groothuis, Douglas. Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism. (Downers Grove, IL: Green Press; 2000) 39–40.

[v] “The History of Bricks and Brickmaking.” Brickarchitecture. 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020.

[vi] Anderson, Allie. Unscrambling the Millennial Paradox, 35.

[vii] Kluger, Jeffrey. Is God in Our Genes?. vol. 164. (New York: Time Inc.:, 2004). 5.

[viii] Ibid., 2.

[ix] Ibid., 5.

[x] “The Renaissance: Overview; History and Culture.” Norton Anthology. 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020.

[xi] May, Gerald. Addiction & Grace. (New York: HarperCollins Publishers; 1988) 2.

[xii] Ibid., 14.

[xiii] Ibid., 29.

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