Saturday, 24 July 2010

A head full of sweetie mice.

There are various methodologies that we can employ to stop thinking authentically. To think authentically, means confronting issues in a critical manner that goes beyond our self interests. This can be a painful process.

(1) Labeling: There are many examples. "William is a nut!" "His head is full of sweetie mice!" "He lacks confidence."

Often when we label, we give ourselves permission to stop thinking on an issue. We employ a thought-stop. By labeling someone 'a nut,' we naturalize their behaviour, so that we can stop thinking about why they are behaving in a particular way. What we are effectively saying is this: "William's abnormal behaviour has nothing to do with how he has been treated - that is just the way he is."

(2) De-humanize.

In times of conflict, it is easy to take part in mass murder, if we de-humanize the enemy. We can do this by simplifying the characteristics of a whole nation. We deny depth, not meaning. So during World War Two, the allies might characterize the Germans for their 'cold efficiency.' Still, if we think at all, we know that not all Germans are cold or efficient. Likewise, individuals can change all the time. So why do we characterize and deny people their natural ability to grow?

When we characterize people as lazy or stupid, we are de-humanizing them somewhat, because change is more human than the stale caricatures we normally work with in our everyday lives.

Change in others can also be interpreted as an affront to our own stagnation.

(3) Escapism:

There are many means of 'escape.' The obvious ones are alcohol, drugs and computer games. We might even consider some of the major arts: literature, music, sculpture. There is a sense of rapture in such escape, a gorgeous release from the difficulties we encounter constantly. This can be a good thing, such as when a patient is given painkillers after surgery. If the patient gets addicted to painkillers, however, that is a different matter.

To keep an open mind: that is the thing.

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