Name Your Ism


By Garry Greenwood

Guest writer for Wake Up World

Some say we are already living in a post-apocalyptic world due to the irreversible environmental degradation we have caused. Why can’t we seem to change our destructive ways? Could it be that humankind is set to become yet another failed species here on planet Earth?

Why can’t we change?

I believe a root cause of this possible extinction is our dogged resistance or unwillingness to change our destructive thought patterns, with a major offender being our collective over-consumerism. It’s obvious that collectively we prefer to ignore all the danger signs. Instead, collectively we are destroying our ability to live on planet Earth; rather than living with less, even though living with less still means we can have a comfortable and fulfilling life. It seems the top few percent of us are simply too addicted to greed and power, whilst the rest of us are simply too addicted to the pursuit of consumerism and other isms, at any cost.

Of course there are other factors at play here and, in my opinion some of those factors include mass mind control, behavioral conditioning, manipulation and just plain lies on the part of the top few percent who reign over us in their various ways. These factors ultimately lead to the creation of various voids or unfilled needs that constantly gnaw away at our souls. That great American (insert your country here…) Dream has become our nightmare.

Filling voids with isms

Everyone, including the one percent at the top of the pile, are in need of something to fill that void too, and historically it appears we all too often fill our personal voids with our isms. You could say we are too attached to or in love with, our isms. A quick dictionary search of the meaning of an ism states that an ism is a distinctive practice, doctrine, belief system, ideology or a school of thought. It seems we just can’t give up our addiction or reliance on our ‘isms’, and many of us are addicted to more than one. Some of these isms, for example are: consumerism, capitalism, Catholicism, atheism, Judaism, Mohamedism, sexism, racism, communism, Nazism, socialism, anarchism, egotism, narcissism, alcoholism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, nihilism, modernism, scientism, collectivism… One website I visited has listed around 250 isms and is still counting.

Which ones are you reliant upon?

Our isms are tools of control

Whatever they are we must come to realize our isms have historically been, and still are, the effective tools of those who would control us. A clear example of this could be Nazism. Of course not all are damaging, but some isms are more damaging than others, but to any reasonable person the dangers of over consumption by way of the consumerism and capitalism isms should now be apparent.

Paradoxically, underpinning some of these consumption isms are the religious isms, most of which are competing vigorously for supremacy. Some outwardly advertise their special-ness or superiority: Judaism, Catholicism, Mormonism and Mohamedism being a few obvious examples.

Just the two competing isms of communism and capitalism once brought about immense global friction to the point where both isms took us all to the very brink of nuclear self annihilation, e.g. the Cuban missile crisis. This example serves to remind us just how far followers of some isms are prepared to go to further or install their preferred ism. Now it’s religion isms that are taking us in a similar direction with nuclear ready Judaism and Mohamedism competing for survival in the Middle East. Similarly, so too are nuclear ready Hinduism and Mohamedism. These isms have well equipped nuclear arsenals. I am referring here firstly to Israel versus Iran and Pakistan versus India. These religion-in-origin isms are sworn opponents.

Can we learn from the past?

Historically, it is well known, and your own personal experience will no doubt confirm this, that once in an ism, either by default (birth) or by choice you stay bound by such isms. Try reforming an alcoholic, try converting a capitalist to communism, what about a Muslim becoming a Jew? Have any atheists turned to Hinduism I wonder? The point I’m trying to make is that many isms are powerful mechanisms of control and exclusivity, which can eventually lead to great damage for everyone. And some are more damaging than others.

I know. I know, few want to give up their cozy void-filling and belief centered isms they have grown up with, be it consumerism or Catholicism for example. They might be filling your particular void, but think of the cost to the global environment, to you and others. Nowadays, I am wondering do we really need our isms anymore. What would life be like without them? What would we fill our voids, our emptiness or addictions with? Would we simply create other more dangerous or useless addictions or isms?

Could it be that our isms create our voids in the first place? Wouldn’t you agree they confine us to a particular pigeon hole or box? I can see how some hold us to a particular time and place and suck away at our creativity and inquisitiveness. They then create friction, egotism, arrogance and intolerance. Just examine the ism you are most bound to. As an example; if it happens to be Catholicism wouldn’t you agree (with yourself) that it’s a most superior ism? If you don’t think so why don’t you join another ism?

Isms lead to schisms

If there were no isms would we, or could we, be more tolerant to others? The racism ism simply wouldn’t exist. If there weren’t any self-proclaiming masters or chosen races justifying themselves behind an ism banner then there would be no murderous humanity-threatening supremacy struggles.

I hear you calling out, “You’re too simplistic in your views,” but I don’t agree. If we were to gradually start abandoning our isms then all that energy spent in confinement, containment, consumerism, competitiveness and conflict would simply seek expression elsewhere and contribute greatly in diffusing global, regional, sectarian and local tensions that are about to overwhelm us. We shouldn’t be so hard-headed or bound to some of our beliefs and ways, most of which we probably learnt in one of our isms. It’s okay – brave even, but certainly worthy of merit to change ones viewpoint or beliefs. It’s human to be wrong sometimes and to adopt a new standpoint. It’s called evolution.

If we were all brave enough to step outside the ‘safe’ confines of our little belief boxes we would have to think and take responsibility for ourselves – to become true humans, not the unfulfilled slaves of those who proclaim ownership of those isms.

Graffiti scribbled somewhere upon that shameful wall which separates the Jews from the Palestinians reads: “Are you a Jew, a Muslim or a Human?”

Also by Garry Greenwood:

About the author: 


Garry Greenwood: “I am an artist, writeradventurer, and human rights activist. I was born in the UK in 1948 and migrated to Australia in 1950 where I have lived most of my life. I’m an art school graduate and studied journalism at Southern Cross University in NSW, Australia. My first real job was as news cameraman at Channel 7, Canberra.

“Nowadays I paint, sculpt and write my around the world. I write blogs encouraging my readers to step outside their comfort zones and find even greater life fulfilment. I also blog about environmental issues, but my forte is cult mind control and I’ve written a book, All The Emperors Men, about this issue detailing the psychological damage it often causes.”

Garry Greenwood is the author of a very informative ebook detailing great activities for all seniors: A Retiree’s Guide To Life After Work. Garry is a keen writer, and you can follow his work at


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