A friend of mine forwarded this reference to me recently via email, and I think that it bears looking over and discussing. The 1978 Awake article is entitled Do Others Do Your Thinking? and it makes some very good points. The deep irony is there for many of us of the “Conscious Class” to see. The article is quoted and divided into sections below, then some brief comments follow the section. Some portions of the text have been deleted for the sake of brevity. I encourage all to read the article in its entirety- especially those of you that are active Witnesses and have found this site by mistake or out of curiosity. Here follows an analysis of the article taken from the Awake 1978, 8/22 pp. 3-4 entitled “Do Others Do Your Thinking?”:
Propaganda has power. Does it overpower you? Or do you have a mind of your own?
EDUCATION teaches you how to think. Propagandists tell you what to think. True educators present all sides of an issue and encourage discussion. Propagandists hammer hard on their view and discourage discussion…Many fall easy prey because it takes no effort to feel, whereas thinking is hard labor. And the propagandist sees to it that his message is made to seem wise, the right and moral one, and gives you a sense of importance and belonging if you follow it. You are one of the smart ones, you are not alone, you are comfortable and secure— so they say.
Looking at these words with an open mind calls into question who the Propagandist is, and who the Educator is, does it not? And also the fact that the governing body repeatedly tells their members through the Watchtower not to read and investigate other points of view or other religious ideas. Open discussion is not only discouraged, it is NOT PERMITTED under penalty of spiritual execution. There are many banned books that Witnesses are not allowed to read. These are not spoken of aloud, but practicing Witnesses know they exist.
Tyranny of authority, ridicule, name-calling, smears, slurs, personal digs—all such tactics are marshaled to assail your mind and take it by storm…Under the lash of stinging words and reckless rhetoric, the mind is herded along. Some propaganda is of this inflammatory kind, but much of it today is more subtle…
Enforced uniformity by the elders and traveling overseers, name-calling and slurs leveled at anyone that dares to say they disagree with what is printed in a Watchtower magazine are the very thing that is done to any Witness that attempts to speak up. The social equivalent of an atom bomb will be detonated upon the person if they persist; the most foul and ugly word that Jehovah’s Witnesses possess will be applied to the person: “APOSTATE”. Yes, this “subtle” threat hangs over any and all who voice doubts or disagreements. The strongest weapon the WT leadership possess is this very real threat of shunning. Secondary and almost as strong is the belief that the person will then lose their everlasting life, because Jehovah God will no longer be their friend.
But even educated, sophisticated persons fall prey to a very unfair and untrue type of propaganda. This type assumes a superior air of dismissal of an opponent’s viewpoint, treating it as rather pathetic and really not worth attention…If any suggest that evolution conflicts with the Bible, these wise ones indulgently smile at the simple souls and indicate that they need this crutch, but that “intelligent persons know that God’s Word is only ancient myths.” They prove neither their assertions nor their smears, but by the tyranny of authority they pontificate their opinions, squelch objections and intimidate opposers. It works, and supposedly intelligent people who know nothing about the theory believe it because “all intelligent people believe it.”
How many times have another person’s viewpoint been dismissed and viewed as pathetic by Witnesses when out in service? Even sneered at without a thought as to its veracity? I did it many times myself; now I can only feel shame about it and try to change myself through the power of God and Christ. For example, Churches and Bible Scholars have pointed out that the “superior authorities” in Romans 13:1 were the governments and world leaders. This has been correctly understood by Christian people for hundreds of years. However the 1936 Watchtower quoted Romans and then mistakenly said:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.” (Rom. 13: 1) The Devil has caused religionists to lay hold upon this Scripture text and to induce men to believe that the “higher powers” are those men who hold the official positions in the government of this world, and the earthly rulers have been glad to have that construction placed upon the text because those who thus believe are more fully subject to their power. The true followers of Christ well know that their duty and obligation is to serve God…The faithful anointed, therefore, must do as commanded, that is to say, be fully subject to God and Christ Jesus, who constitute “the higher powers”. (The Watchtower 1936, February 15, page 55)
Did “all intelligent” Witnesses possess the true meaning of Romans 13:1? No they did not. And for many decades (until the early 1960s) they sneered at Christendom for “pontificating it’s opinions” even when that interpretation happened to be right… The 1978 Awake continues:
What About You?
Proverbs 14:15 states: “A simple man believes every word he hears; a clever man understands the need for proof.” (The New English Bible) Many today are like sponges; they soak up whatever they are submerged in. It is the easy way. Exercise for the muscles is hard work; exercising the mind is even harder. It is so much easier to soak up whatever is around.
This is what of course has happened to nearly all of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have “soaked up like sponges” doctrines and practices that they don’t really understand and certainly can’t explain. Examples abound: the chronology of 1914, the belief that they are part of a great crowd and the Bible was not really written to them, that Jesus Christ is not their mediator even though he died for their sins, abstinence from blood yet being allowed to receive transfusions of liter-bags filled with blood fractions, etc. Very few deeply study the scriptures and “exercise the mind” and so they are swept along, allowing a small group of men in New York to decide almost every matter of Christian conscience and theology for them. It is “so much easier” as the article correctly states! The Awake then concludes with this advice:
So each individual must choose what he will feed his mind. Whatever you read or watch or listen to, test whether it is propaganda or whether it is the truth. “The god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,” that they might not know the vital truths of our time. What about you? Will you let others think for you, or will you do your own thinking? Do your own, and “thinking ability itself will keep guard over you.”
Good advice indeed! May we heed this wisdom from Proverbs 14:15 as explained in the article. And remember this very valid question: “Do Others Do Your Thinking?” and ask yourself, will I let others do the answering and thinking for me? Or will I study, pray to God, and then decide for myself in line with my Bible trained conscience what to think?