There's a scene in Oliver Twist where he attacks another boy, an older boy. His "owners" can't figure out why it happened and they call the man they got Oliver from to find out and, maybe, return him. This man blames Oliver's behavior on meat. If they'd just kept Oliver on a nice diet of gruel, he wouldn't be acting so independently.
Now, hold onto that thought. We'll be coming back to it.
Mankind, in general, has never been that big on thinking. Most of us are quite content to sit back and let other people do the thinking for us. It's so much easier to let other people do the thinking, make the decisions, and tell us what to do. And, when we do what we're told, we're saved from any responsibility, and that's good, too, right? "It wasn't my fault; I was just following orders."
Not that everyone is like that or that it's always this way. There have been times when, culturally, we have been more intent on thought and thinking, which is not to say that everyone thought, but, certainly, more of us did. This, unfortunately, is not one of those times. We are in the grips of a mass abdication of thinking. We're more intent on entertainment and a free ride than we are in thinking and, having thought, doing.
Or maybe it's always been this way. The same small number of thinkers with the mass of humanity just following along. Actually, I know that's true, but it sure doesn't feel that way. It's feels worse now. Maybe it's because no one is calling attention to it. There is no Emerson or Thoreau out there telling us to "think!" And not just to think but to follow our thoughts into action.
It's so endemic that we have at least one presidential candidate out there specifically catering to non-thinkers and non-doers. A candidate who spends his time pointing at the other one saying, "It's his fault," rather than talking about what he's going to do. What he thinks. I'm pretty sure the problem is that he doesn't think. He has none of his own opinions, and, if you look at his voting record, I'm pretty sure you can see the evidence right there. The message here is "you should elect me because I'm not him," not "you should elect me because I can do a better job and here's how."
But this isn't meant as a political statement. It's just an example as to how much we don't think in our society. Often, even our leaders don't do it. I'm sure that's not confined to one party or the other, either.
This lack of thought, lack of promotion of thinking, is in our TV. It's in our movies. And, sadly, it's in our books. You can see it clearly by looking at the things that currently have mass popularity: 50 Shades of Not Thinking and Twilight of Our Minds. Really, it all makes me sad. Traditionally, books have been a place for thoughts, but it seems that that is becoming less and less true.
This is funny: My daughter has this Barbie video in which one of the girl's mothers accuses her of reading too much because it puts thoughts in her head. The mother is a bad guy. Person. Villain. Books should be for thoughts and giving thoughts!
Studies show that TV is almost always bad for thinking. It turns our brains off. Movies, also, are mostly bad for thinking, although we do somewhat engage with them. Books, though, that's where our minds turn on and we think. We think! But we seem determined to drive all thought from books, too. Unless they're fantasizing type thoughts about sparkly chests. Or something.
And all of this brings us back to Oliver Twist, because the rise of obesity in America is just another sign of the lack of thought that's going on and the trend toward more not thinking. What? Yeah, you heard me. Eating too much sugar and carbs not only makes you fat, it turns your brain off. It makes it harder to think and to focus. It makes us all nice, docile little followers that are content to sit around on our lard butts all the time just following along with our consumerist, entertainment culture.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Put down your chocolate and your muffins or whatever it is you're eating and go do some thinking. Or some reading that will make you think. Don't be content with mere popcorn literature. Read something challenging that will engage your mind. Think! And, then, go write something that will make others think, too!