Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rethinking the Way We Think

We definitely live in interesting and perilous times. The world seems to be in the throws of more chaos than normal with mass uprisings against tyrannous governments, and more than our share of natures tumult with earthquakes, tidal waves and nuclear meltdowns. Perhaps the biggest "meltdown" is the economic one that few people have a realistic grasp on.

One main demand of all this mess is that we "rethink the way we think" about things. We can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand of ignorance, apathy or false supremacy. We all are being touched or WILL BE touched by the current upheavals in our world.

But thinking isn't the end-all, right? Everyone "thinks" to some degree or another. The problem is RIGHT thinking (and I don't mean politically). The age old question of the meaning of life comes down to the continuous question of what is right and what is wrong.

Right and wrong is such a subjective issue after all. Some people base their views of right and wrong on books...religious or otherwise. Others base it on some sense of innate "spirituality" that mysteriously reveals to us the truth of what is right and wrong. For many of us this makes "truth" a very relative thing...relative to your moods, feelings, sanity etc. I would suggest that most people's truth comes from a form of "democratic" exercise. If most of us...or at least the majority in our immediate circle...claim something as true and right, well, it must be so. This is the most comfortable approach to truth as it reduces the need to question so many things in life that we have no practical or provable answer to.

It seems practical to me that the majority think this way. After all, it keeps the masses in line, the level of dissidence at a minimum, and promotes peace and tranquility at least temporarily. The problem comes in when decades or even centuries later "we" discover that this majority thinking was totally false and delusional...and we have now built huge systems, institutions and shrines to the false tenants of our respected but long gone forefathers. Who are we now if/when we discover that some of our original presumptions of fact are indeed false? How do we handle this?

I would suggest most of us don't. We simply bury our doubts or newly discovered truths as far away from consciousness as we can. In some cases we quietly, secretly begin operating outside of the system or even living clandestinely with a new, private approach to life and survival. It is similar to a real world situation where everyone was starving and we knew where the largest hidden cache of food was stored...but we kept it to ourselves and helped ourselves to that hidden supply as much and as long as we can get away with. Some would call this another form of "survival of the fittest". After all, knowledge is king.

The sad reality for our world is that many of our supposed leaders and government officials know more than we all know. They are privy...and protect that privilege at all cost...to the core, real statistics of our systems. The smartest ones know that they cannot reverse the perilous road our civilization is traveling without substantial upheaval to their own lives and realities. Therefore, they chose to stay mum and cover-up the truth. They continue to placate the masses with buttery, syrupy speeches of hope and patriotism. They continue to infuse our medias with hype and pomposity...keeping the masses focus on the present and past, so they don't ask too many questions about the future. They continue to horde and give us all just enough to keep us from revolting. This reality in itself is revolting.

If the arts are, as often argued, the reflection of our culture or civilization...then we don't have to look far for proof that our world is in a huge vacuum of leadership and creativity. In just a couple centuries we have gone from Mozart to Snoop-dog, from DaVinci to Andy Warhol, and from the classics of Milton or Tennyson to "HEAVEN IS FOR REAL", by Todd Burpo. When you look at what makes the top 10 best sellers lists these days at the bookstore, it doesn't take long to get a quick peak at the breadth of modern day thinking.

So, where is all this taking us? I would suggest that civilization's meeting with mathematical destiny is sooner than we think. I don't think we are facing a "Nostradamus" quick end to the world...but I do think the world as we know it will experience some cataclysmic upheavals that will revolutionize life as we know it. Someday the accountant shows up along with the banker and says "pay up or move out". If you believe in right and wrong, you realize that someday the givers are going to revolt against the takers and say enough is enough. We are seeing this now in certain regions of the world...and this will continue in reaction to new ways of thinking by the masses.

One of the few hopes I see coming through modernity is futurist Ray Kurtzweil's theory that technology and artificial intelligence will come to our rescue in the near future. When man's mind and the modern computer meld to bring singularity of mind and reason...maybe then we have a chance at true objective thinking.

Until then it seems we are stuck with our very limited brains, short relative existence, and the challenge to make the most out of what little brainpower and understanding we really have. In the meantime, many of us need to question or "rethink" the way we think...as a matter of survival.


David B. McDonagh JD/MBA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave McDonagh said...

I agree with your article, we all have to rethink our perspective and then act on our beliefs. You point out that we then need to take action on our beliefs to hopefully change our world for the better. You have given some suggestions on how we can start to do that. To modify what you have suggested I propose that we create social change through simple living. Any social movement of people helps to bring about desired changes in our society.
I hope that you started the ball rolling by writing this article and it will inspire all that read it to change and to rethink our perspective on life, community and relationships. I feel that your goal is to foster a community which focuses on positive change and how we can help others.
The problem that we encounter in fostering change through what are consider “normal channels” are connected to the economy and government, which in many ways creates a disconnect between individuals. The first premise we all need to understand is that we are all connected and vehicles that are not altruistic in nature tend to cause disharmony and eventually a disconnect from the original intent.
We all need to take time to, as you propose, to “rethink our thinking” and to examine situations from a holistic perspective. Many of us are micro-thinkers and we need to turn in to macro-thinkers in order rethink our perspectives and consider an issue’s effect on a broader scale. We all live within a community, be it work, our job, the people whom we are associated. How we “rethink our thinking” will have an impact not only within our circle of influence, but also on society.
Anyone who has taken time to read your article and possibly read my post has access to resources that can open each of us up to rethinking our thinking. The questions I would pose are: What is each of us going to do with that opportunity? How are we going to improve society by rethinking our thinking?

edward said...

Thanks for your comments Dave. While ideally I would like to think that a "community" of thinkers and doers would be able to unify and change...I get more pessimistic as I age about the capacity of humans to evolve and change. It seems a majority stay in whatever mind set or attitude they grew up in with little impetus to grow. That leaves it up to us individually to lead and live by example, not necessarily waiting for the community's approval or concurrence. This is a painful, hard thing to do if you are not a strong individual.

At least I know you and I can start thing rolling:).