“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.
And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.
This is what I am and what I am about.”
“when you follow two separate chains of thought you will find some point of intersection which should approximate to the truth.
“Once to every person and nation come the moment to decide. In the conflict of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side.”
James Russell Lowell
“It takes courage to lead a life. Any life.”
Maybe cowardly is too harsh. It is definitely lazy and often cloaked in a multi layered cloth of frustration, anger & emotion.
Suffice it to say … both debating & thinking takes some courage in that it forces you to face some things that maybe you do not want to face <and change how and what you think>.
But debating takes even more courage because ideas, when let out into the open, are pretty helpless. They cannot live without some protection. This means whether you feel courageous or not, whether you feel competent in expressing your ideas let alone defending your ideas, you step up to the plate and take some swings.
The cowardly way is to simply sit back and enjoy the comfort of the unsaid opinion & idea.
It is even more cowardly to simply boo or shout down someone who not only wants to share their thinking & ideas but one who is willing to listen, debate & discuss your ideas and thinking.
It is even slightly cowardly to simply rely on ‘groupthink’ <which, by the way, is different than being a sheep and following the crowd>.
I had the fortune to go to graduate school with a case study driven curriculum.
We didn’t follow some syllabus with textbooks and lesson plans … we debated business cases. We quickly learned that cause & effect is rare, solutions are rarely simple and that “one right answer” was the rarest animal of all.
But this was learned by listening and debating and discussing <with some random shouting included>.
We quickly discovered that the glib one-liners <or tweets> actually made little ripple on the surface of the discussion.
Words were demanded by the idea itself to ‘lead’. That means you were demanded to deliver words being in front of your idea, pointing to a direction, saying ‘this way’ and using words to step out into the unknown of a debate in which you knew, at best, your idea was but one of the ‘right answers & solutions.’
You find out quickly … too quickly in fact … theory, it seems, is always easier than practice.
And that is what an idea that remains in your head unspoken is … simply a theory.
If it cannot stand the gauntlet of debate & discussion it remains simply a theory <or opinion> you have and will never go into practice. I believe it was Harry Eckstein <Case Study and Theory in Political Science 1975> who stated that case studies “are valuable at all stages of the theory-building process, but most valuable at that stage of theory building where least value is generally attached to them: the stage at which candidate theories are tested.”
“Censorship is an almost irresistible impulse when you know you are right.
But when we look back at all that used to be seen as the truth, we know that we must keep a free market of ideas open.
The best test of truth is the ability to get accepted in the market.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes Supreme Court Justice
Booing is actually the cowardly form of censorship of ideas … a lazy way of curbing the freedom of the mind.
And, maybe worse, booing someone is a cowardly way of actually caging the mind from exploring new directions.
I will admit.
Booing and shouting someone down and not listening seems weird to me. Weird in that half the battle in Life is simply showing up. So you have shown up <which puts you ahead of a shitload of people> and then you choose to simply show dissatisfaction and offer no solutions … or listen to offered solutions.
I know what I am suggesting isn’t always easy. And that is where courage steps in.
Freedom of mind means leaving what you think behind for a while. It doesn’t mean you can’t ‘come home’ again … but
We live in a weird world these days … alternatively dominated by groupthink and, alternatively, individual opinions are as important as facts, it is a weird world in which feelings seem more important that facts.
In this weird world of ours it is becoming almost impossible to stand against what feels like and inevitable tide and when you do try you can expect a strong wave of cynicism, sarcasm & … well … screaming.
In this weird world of ours if you truly do think for yourself and break free of the herd to think independently about a subject of great importance to you and to the greater world you are demanded to do something other than ‘boo’ or show up and shout.
That last one isn’t weird.
It is what normal people do with good normal ideas when they disagree with someone who has an idea you may not agree with.
I imagine it takes some moral courage to not just boo. And you have to have some courage to understand that it is less important whether you are right or wrong … what matters is that you stand up and challenged what you most likely see as misguided institutionalized groupthink.
“I realize that if you ask people to account for facts they usually spend more time finding reasons for them than finding out whether they are true.
They skip over facts but carefully deduce inferences.
They normally begin thus: “how does this come about?”
But does it so?
That is what they ought to be asking.”
I don’t agree with many things going in in the world today and I certainly don’t agree with many things the Trump administration is suggesting they will do.
But if I am going to express my discomfort in their ideas I want to hear their discomfort in my ideas. And while I am under no illusion that we will end up comfortable in some place … I do find comfort in the belief the discourse is more likely to produce a good result then simply shouting or booing.
Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
John F. Kennedy
I love the fact that people are showing up and speaking out.
And I absolutely understand that many of us are scared to have the debate & discussion because we fear losing that discussion and there is a shitload at risk.
And I absolutely understand that “there are few things more destructive than an unsound idea persuasively expressed” <Bill Bernbach>.
So you know what?
Keep showing up.
Keep expressing your discomfort with ideas you are hearing.
But find a spokesperson.
Find someone you trust to express your ideas & your thinking better than you can. And have that person open the debate. Words matter and words used well matter.
Shouting is not only cowardly but, even worse, it cheats words from being able to matter.
Shouting and booing is almost as destructive to a good idea as silence.
Please stop shouting.
Please stop not … well … not talking.
The only way out of the weird place it seems like the world is in these days is to talk our way out of it <and beget some doing we can agree on>.
Booing & shouting is not only not productive it is only going to hurt our ears as it only echoes in the hole we are all in … and doesn’t offer us any way out of the fucking hole.
The only way out of any hole is to embrace our god-given gift of the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.