The End of Isms (Part Two): What ISMs Do To Your Mind

To summarize Part One, we talked about how ideologies, or “isms”:

  • masquerade as ideas or beliefs, but are actually a mental technique–a way of directing your mind such that identifying with a camp or label takes precedence over your perception of the world (which we called “Camp Thinking”)
  • despite what we are taught to believe, are not necessary to engage in the act of thinking (since people can, with enough effort and time, step back from their identities and alter them, as history and introspection shows)
  • are a positive hindrance to enlightenment (since, by definition, they constitute the decision to constrain oneself to a narrow perception of the world)
  • consist mainly of stories, or fictions, about who we are supposed to be (our roles) and who we are supposed to hate (i.e., Us and Them thinking)
  • are restricted not just to politics, but also religion, nationalism, racism, language groups, science, nutritional philosophy, gangs, etc. (Any time you identify yourself with a group (Us), and distinguish yourself from non-members (Them))

Continue reading The End of Isms (Part Two): What ISMs Do To Your Mind

The End of Isms (Part One)

Cartman: Wait… Isn’t everybody at war over atheism?
Shvek: Atheism? No. We’ve learned to get rid of all the isms in our time.
Medic: Yes. Long ago we realized isms are great for those who are rational, but in the hands of irrational people, isms always lead to violence.
Cartman: So there is no war now in the future.
Blavius: Of course there’s war! The stupid French-Chinese think they have a right to Hawaii.
All: Yeah!!
-South Park, Episode 10.13: Go God Go XII

I sure thought that put a nail in it. I cheered at the TV and went happily to bed thinking that Matt and Trey had struck at the heart of human idiocy and we would wake up to a new and wiser world.

Alas, apparently no one watches South Park.

Or if they do, they don’t understand it.

Isms, you see, continued right on the next morning. Sorry Matt and Trey, you tried. As powerful a force for change as Cartman is, isms have been around a lot longer.

So long, in fact, that the modern world is drowning in its own philosophies.

It is choking to death on ideology.

Thinking people intuitively know this. They cringe as they hear politicians speak of “sides” Continue reading The End of Isms (Part One)

The Bedtime Story Behind Every Election

No matter the outcome of the election tomorrow, one thing is clear: millions will proclaim the gleaming triumph of hope and millions will declare the end of the world.

This happens every election.

People fall for it, every single time. The story that politicians tell us is that there are sides, and only one side has the answers and the other side are villains and harbingers of destruction. They pit us against one another, claiming that my interests are not your interests. That they, your heroes and saviors, and only they, will represent your interests.

And people swallow the story whole, every time. Continue reading The Bedtime Story Behind Every Election

2012: Is it the End of the World?

"Castle Romeo" atmospheric nuclear test - March 1954

Ah, hysteria. Omnipresent in any age. Doubly so in ours. Think of it: a couple of millennia ago, hysteria had to plod along from mouth to mouth. A traveling merchant, say, would have a conversation with a shepherd about trouble brewing in Rome. The shepherd, after thinking on the problem for a few days, mentioned it to his wife. She mulled it over for a few days, then mentioned it to another wife at the village marketplace. Someone overheard it at the market… and so on.

Now, hysteria reaches us over morning coffee.

But you and I are thoughtful people, so rather than just giving in blindly to hysteria let’s stop and think about things, shall we? After all, as we well know, December 21st, 2012 is not the first time the world has “ended”…

Continue reading 2012: Is it the End of the World?

Why Elections Don’t Make a Difference (and What Does)

TOBY: I think anything tactical makes us look bad.
SAM: Well, we should get used to it. We go on TV, we do a better job at selling it then the other guy. And we win the bigger argument… I also think it’s the right thing to do.

                                        –The West Wing, Season 3, Ep. 64: “We Killed Yamamoto”

This article asked: How can any American not care?

Well, I’ll tell you. Do you know why people (even intelligent, thinking people) show apathy toward politics and elections?

Because the thinking mind shrinks from absurdity. Continue reading Why Elections Don’t Make a Difference (and What Does)