Friday, August 17, 2007

Simple Thinking

I am currently reading a book called "The Road Less Travelled By, and Beyond" by M. Scott Peck, M.D. It is very good. In the current chapter I am reading, Dr. Peck is speaking about the epidemic of simplistic thinking. He claims, and I agree with him, that most people deliberately shy away from doing any real thinking in their lives. They prefer to live with simple, straight forward beliefs, even if those beliefs are based on lies.

We see this rampant in racist as well as religious fundamentalist groups of today. People en mass choose to believe simple lies because they are easier to live with than a complicated truth. This stems from mental as well as spiritual laziness. It is the sin of indifference that we are speaking about here. The belief that the world can be black and white because that is the most convenient answer for me.

The problem with this way of thinking, or lack of, is that it allows large groups of people to be easily manipulated by media, government, and charismatic individuals. This is why fashion and fashion icons have such a hold on our population. People are content in simply aping whatever they see on TV as opposed to actually exploring who they are and what they like. It is harder to be original than to be conformist; harder to lead than to follow; harder to do the right thing than the wrong.

Dr. Peck is telling us that we need to begin to think critically again. We need to wake ourselves out of the sleep of mental and spiritual laziness and observe the world for ourselves, instead of allowing others to do it for us. Only in this way can we ever hope to reach our full potential as human beings. One statement in this chapter that really struck me is, "Our laziness, our natural idolatry of ease and comfort, makes us co-conspirators with the mass media." This sums up our complacency in the events around us that we complain about everyday but never do anything about. We complain about government but we forget that the government is run by people. We complain about the Church but are not willing to change ourselves so that we may change others. We want others to change first so that we can follow, or worse yet, hide in the shadow of their accomplishments and ride the coat tails of those who are braver than we.

I think that we need to take our lives by the reigns and begin bettering ourselves. We must read more, converse more, question more, and love more. Only in this way will we ever escape Plato's cave, in which we willfully remain chained, veiwing life only as shadows on a wall cast by those who would like nothing more than to manipulate us.


Roland said...

Hey Theo,

Nice post. I'd like to get my hands on that book. If you don't mind, I might use your post as an online reading for my intro to philosophy course.

One addendum though: It's Plato's cave.

Roland said...

I've given one introductory lecture at the university entitled "What is Philosophy?". Already I've had to calm one person down who was afraid that the class might be challenging their faith. I mean damn... can't I at least get to the scandalous stuff first?