As a race of beings – the human race – from birth to death we are taught daily what someone wants us to know. We are not encouraged to think our own thoughts, nor are we taught how to think. It’s a strange paradigm: we celebrate the free thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Ernest Hemingway, Galileo Galilei and others, but few encourage us to be free thinkers. Why is that?
I like to include artwork with my posts, whether drawings or photos, to help with the thinking process, and of course, for those that won’t read anything without pictures, but all humor aside: while I was searching for some pictures to include in this post, I noticed that there were many photos making fun of the “self-taught.” This has been a paradox for me since I was very young. Why do our societies belittle the self-taught? Somewhere, somehow, someone had a thought and made it become reality. We have computers today because someone thought of them, how to make them and how to make the existing electronic components do what they had in mind. Once they’ve been created, that same self-taught person had to teach someone so they could teach others. In religions, it was the same way; some people made some observations of their times, came to some conclusions and in their own ways, found God (or gods depending on the religion) in a way that makes sense for that person – then he/she taught others.
The harm I see in all of this is, in a question, why do we seek to narrow our thoughts, our views of life, our experiences in a way that separates us from others? Do we as humans deny ourselves the independence as individuals for the safety and comfort of like-minded thinkers? Is conformity worth the sacrifice of who you really are? Please don’t misunderstand this line of questions… of course we need to have social norms for each others safety, but beyond that?
"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." BERTRAND RUSSELL, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish
As a student, I was always uneasy with being taught fear (product of being made to go to religious schools). Now as an adult and having been a teacher not only in the U.S., but in Mexico and short stints in other countries, I still see others that exhibit the need to be followers – yes, followers! People seem to be comfortable when they’re in the company like-minded people. These are the people who are easily led, and will justify the beliefs of the whole, not their own. Is fear of being alone in their beliefs and thoughts so horrific that they’d rather relinquish their sovereignty to “belong”?
"Father, O father! what do we hereIn this land of unbelief and fear?" WILLIAM BLAKE, The Land of Dreams
Sovereignty? Sure! Let’s think of another issue, your inherited sovereignty. I’m willing to bet that you never thought of your life in this respect before. What do I mean by “inherited sovereignty”? In simple form, you were born on planet earth; no matter your belief to how we as a race of beings got here, this planet is our home. Who do we own for our existence?
"The concessions of the weak are the concessions of fear." EDMUND BURKE, speech on conciliation with America
We pay someone, some company to live, eat, drink… but this is OUR home. Why do we continually give our rights to others to exist? Companies seek to privatize everything we have – and given time, they’ll try to privatize the air we breathe. Companies have already tried to privatize water in the country of Bolivia – wonderfully, they lost that battle. In the U.S., there are few places that one can drink water from a stream, but I wouldn’t try to drink straight from any river these days. We pollute our water supplies so now the only way to get clean drinking water is through a company (State or private company) that has cleaned what they have either polluted or allowed to become polluted.
"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." NELSON MANDELA, Autobiography
I have one more thought for you, in the way of a question: why do we seek to repair a system of life that has shown us how it DOESN’T work? Just a thought I may explore in my next post.
- A Beautiful Mind (talesfromthespectrum.com)
- Galileo to Turing: The Historical Persecution of Scientists (wired.com)
- Quotes by Albert Einstein on Creative Thinking, Innovation, Problem-solving and Entrepreneurship (compassioninpolitics.wordpress.com)