Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thinking Makes It So

The more you have thought, and the more you have done, the longer you have lived.

Immanuel Kant
"All that thinkin' ain't good for the mind."

Recently I had a long conversation with my friend Charles. We do that about once every 6 weeks. Charles is an actor who lives in New York. He's about my age, a gentleman and a good liberal thinker. Our conversations are always vital, energetic and filled with humor.

What perplexed us both during the call was why some people have given up the right to think for themselves. Why do some people lapse into a pool of attitudes instead of the sea of ideas? Why are people so willing to adopt any theory that floats through the atmosphere no matter how inane it is? Why are they mentally inactive but emotionally reactive, and why do those two qualities seem to go together? There is a definite mental entropy at work in the human race.

A woman I used to know once flattered me by asking "Why do you insist on believing that everyone is as intelligent as you are?" My answer at the time was "Because I want them to be." But now, after some years of flapping my wings and flying over landscapes of experience, my answer would be "Because they potentially are."

I think we have been fooled, allowed ourselves to be tricked, into believing in intellectual self satisfaction. "What I know is enough. I don't need to know anything more" we say. Or, "Some things are beyond my comprehension." Or, "I know what I think and I don't want anything changing my mind." That's the worst.

All human activity begins in the mind. Thoughts, ideas and imaginations bring about the results of human behavior and accomplishments. Why do people seem to be so timid at exercising their right to such things? A candle contains all the heat and light within itself in a potential but dormant state. It only releases its strength and purpose when a flame is applied to the wick. Examples abound of thinkers who offer the flame, but there is that reluctance to accept it.

The essential truth of anything is not complicated. Once all the dots have been connected and the pieces joined together its truth can be stated very simply. But there is mental work to be done. It is easier to be lazy, easier not to do the work even though it costs very little to do.

I don't blame people for being ignorant. We are all ignorant about most things. The fault does not rest with the ignorant man. The fault, which probably cannot be defined, described or understood, is more like a world wide virus of ignorance, a parasite feeding on the innate mental might and leaving the vitals of emotion and undirected energy, an illness of spirit that we must challenge at every sign post.

Mental laziness also produces a life of unimportance. But here again we are fooled. We can be very active doing a lot of things and feel a sense of accomplishment. And one day, maybe, we look back and realize how little we actually did compared to what our potential was. The candle was never lit. We can blame our unsatisfactory lives on destiny, circumstances, environment, childhood and justify it with some religious reason.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings" Shakespeare wrote. I want the whole world of humans to wake up and start thinking better. I want to think better than I do. Can you imagine what life would be like for all of us if the human race was thinking better, clearer and with the mental vitality it is capable of?
DB - The Vagabond
Never give up.


Ken Riches said...

Alas, most will not strive for knowledge and betterment, but for what will make it easier and make them more money.

Geo. said...

A sound and logical think-piece, DB. It doesn't explain why I sometimes do things I haven't thought of yet but I like it!

pacific62 said...

This topic is well timed and is of the utmost importance with an election coming up in the US. Voters need to think for themselves and not be fooled with threats and half truths.