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Why is Thinking Important?

October 20, 2009

Why is Thinking Important?

Emotions are a wonderful thing that add reason and delight to the existence of a human life. Without emotions can we fully enjoy music, art or nature? We live with others because we share something that cannot be explained. Words cannot defend our passions as much as we are willing to defend our passions. You may believe that living in a dream of sensations and impulses is the ultimate lifestyle.


Yet there are emotions and the results of those emotions? To judge everything through the emotional glaze is emotionalism. ‘If it feels good, do it.’ The obvious question that must be asked is ‘if it doesn’t feel good do you not do it?’ What if it feels good to do something wrong, do you still do it? What if a sadist thinks of harming others to feel good? Should a sadist be allowed express his feelings freely? Or should we think about the logical consequences of his actions? Answering any of these questions requires the ability to think.


Thinking is harder than feeling because it requires mastery over impulsive emotions and strong desires. Perceptions alone can lead to prejudice in the true sense (the pre-judging a subject before hearing the evidence). How often do we hear important subjects that have been called an emotional debate? Suddenly the spectacle of the passions is more important than a rational debate over its merits. The subject of a person’s comments is no longer about the comments but about whom they have upset. Have you ever watched a public debate that descends into a screaming match? Or a heard a parliamentary sessions where personal insults fly across the chamber to upset a member? Have you ever heard terms used like: radical, hard line, right wing, left wing, extreme policies, mad, dangerous, liberal or reactionary? These are not terms that are designed to make you think. Rather they are designed to do anything to prevent you from being able to think. Words of raw passion are sometimes being used to inflame the heart in order to dull the thinking. Words of fear are designed to create panic. Panic is encouraged to the point of hatred. Hate is the perfect way to fester divisions.


When something is called a wedge issue, it is usually considered to be an issue that is designed to divide people rather than unite them. A leader that constantly appeals to the heart may be doing so because the logic of his argument is so weak. They may also be looking at people as if they are stupid and need to be told what to do. They may be looking at a congregation as a means to an unscrupulous ends. Wedge issues are designed to confuse thinking. Thinking is counter productive to creating an obedient and mindless mob. A lynch mob could not exist if the individual people stopped to think about what they were doing? Thinking could divide the crowd and they may even question the motives of the leader.


Rarely will you hear words of rational thought come in times of war. The wilder the claim the more they are designed to bypass the head. We are told to imagine the worst possible nightmare as being an immediate threat. We are told that the strange feelings of hate that we harbor are the very same feelings of hate that our enemy harbors. Yet our feelings of hate are noble because they support our victory. We are being taught a mixture of hate, fear and panic to numb the brain and justify any crime. In a perverse way we are also being told to hate for the sake of love. ‘A person who does not hate the enemy with a passion obviously does not love their country.’ A leader may ask: ‘Do you love your children enough to hate the enemy for their sake?’ It is an illogical question that pre-empts the answer in its asking. If the intention was deliberate it is an unscrupulous manipulation.


Only by thinking do emotional manipulations and emotional blackmails become obvious. An impending natural disaster will not go away after a passionate speech unless there is a rational plan to avoid the impact. Few countries that are aggrieved or insulted go to war unless they have reason to think that they can win. Even a political leader who is a master of emotional manipulation will weigh up the likelihood of success before choosing a side in a controversial debate. They will choose the winning side so as to appear successful to the largest group. When making an unpopular decision, a leader may go to great pains to explain how hard it was for them to make this decision. ‘I feel your pain,’ they may say, as if they love us even though they make us suffer. Questioning the rational of the decision becomes a question of questioning the leader love for his suffering people, rather than his incompetence. If we think of reasons to stay out of fight we are called a coward. Perhaps we should be thinking about what the opponent has to gain by fighting us. If a new rule is created that appears to discriminate against one group in society, is it not logical to apply the same rule to all people. ‘This rule is because this mob has said something I don’t like,’ was the answer given by a female politician in a recent television debate. A thinking person would ask, ‘why don’t you tackle the words that offend you rather than promote a point of discrimination?’


We live in a soup of information and stimulus. Sometimes we hear and see things that touch the hearts more than the minds. In such times it is easy to become a prisoner to your own emotional reaction. You could act in a way that is outside you normal behavior and do things that you never dream of doing. Passions can drive a nation to be generous in times of natural disaster but they can also drive a nation to create its own unnatural disasters like riots. Only by thinking can we choose between the two. Only by thinking to can we understand when to enjoy our emotions and when to control them.

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