Thinking, and thinking about thinking, has long been a subject of fascination for me. Keeping this series to just four parts was actually pretty difficult, because there's just so much more I could have said. Nothing that would really matter, though, if you understand what I was saying in part three. For the most part, nothing I say here is going to change anyone's mind. About anything. Not that I'm actually trying to change anyone's mind. The point is just to think. To evoke thought.
That's been something I've tried to do all along on this blog, though, not just in this series of posts. Thinking is important. Stopping to think about things is important. Being deliberate in your thought processes is important. And most people... well, most people just don't ever bother to stop and do it. At all.
Most people just spend their lives reacting. Like B. F. Skinner's pigeons. Stimulus. Response. Stimulus. Response. But here's the thing: That's it for the pigeons. The pigeon can not stop and think, "Hey, why am I pecking this button? Why am I spinning in a circle three times and walking up this ramp and pecking this button?" It does what it's been trained to do. People, though, do have the ability to stop and think. They can look at their actions and say, "Why am I doing this?" They just don't. People don't stop to think. [And, if you read part one of this series, you will know that we, as a culture, don't like people to stop and think. We want them to "take charge!" "be decisive!" "take control of the situation!"] That, to me, is the sad thing. People do not stop to think. And, mostly, they don't want to.
Businesses count on it, in fact. So do politicians. Get people to react. Stimulate us and get us to give them the response they want. Appeal to us on an emotional level, because (at least) 80% of us won't bother to consider anything; we'll just react. That's why we, as a culture, buy so much crap. Emotionally, we believe we need it. We don't have any idea of want; we believe we need it. It's emotional.
As I mentioned, it is possibly possible that thinking can be taught. Maybe. I had classes on thinking when I was in 5th and 6th grades, or, I mean, we covered it in class, but, then, I didn't have the normal schooling experience. This is really part of the nature vs nurture debate about whether we can be taught or teach ourselves to think. I think we can. If we stop long enough to do it. If we care enough about doing that. We don't have to be simply a reactionary culture. Not that I think we'll change. Because I don't think that, and I don't think that because we do not believe in it emotionally. If we did, we would already be doing it.
However, there is hope that we could, at some point, have it in the future. Have children or grandchildren that stop to think. It will mean big changes to the education system, changes I don't think we're ready to make yet, but maybe we'll be ready to make them one day. It's just so much harder to teach kids to think and to keep thinking than it is to teach them to just accept the answers that they've been given. Right now, our system actively teaches kids not to think. We're not willing to invest the resources into anything else. But maybe one day...
I hope that one day we are ready to be a people, not just us here in the Western World (where I am) but an entire people, a Race, that is willing to put down its guns and prejudices and its -isms and be a people that think. A people that dream. A people that will look at the data and be willing to see the truth about any given situation. A people willing to put aside individual wants and desires for the sake of the overriding good of the people. A planet where we really do view all humankind as created equal.
But we're not there yet.
Right now, we're too invested in being "right." Even when we are totally and completely wrong. Like my dad (from the story in part 3 of this series). We're a culture about taking sides instead of coming together. You're not like me, so I don't want you near me. You crack your egg on the big end, so you need to be dropped in the river. See, these things are not new. But... but...
IF! we ever stopped to think about it, stopped to look at the data, stopped to see that people really are pretty much the same with only a few variations... yeah, probably wishful thinking, but, still, I like to have those thoughts, because the way we draw lines just makes me sad. But, really, I digress.
The point is that we are a people capable of thought. We are capable of thought. We are capable of thought. And thinking. And deciding. And weighing. And measuring. And listening. And understanding. Of sympathizing... and empathizing. What are you going to think about today?
I have an interview going on today over at Melissa Lemon's place. Stop by and check it out.]