Sunday, 20 September 2009

The importance of reading the writing on the wall (Part 2 of 2)


How have we become so blind? Which invisible force makes us dismiss uncomfortable evidence? What leads men to push aside all prudence and disregard patent signals of danger? Can we not see the destruction that arises from overeating, excessive drinking, and profligate spending? What moves us to close our eyes instead of reading the writing on the wall?

The answer is hard to accept, but it's all about conformity. Such lethal errors, such fundamental mistakes are never made innocently. Our darkest ambitions push us towards places that we know we should avoid. We willingly follow wrong signals and fool ourselves with the excuse that everybody does it.

Conformity comes from the fear to stand out as individuals and speak out our mind. The desire to belong to a community turns from positive to negative from the moment that it makes us ignore obvious signs of trouble. Without our overwhelming faith in the stories we are told, we would easily remark details that don't match and figures that don't add up.

At school, we are seldom encouraged to think independently. Exams frequently consist of repeating theories learned by heart. Research projects are often rated on the basis of a student's ability to quote other people's opinions. Original ideas are not welcome. We are taught that it is safer to repeat bromides than to draw our own conclusions.

Most movies tend to reinforce the idea that, when it comes to making decisions, one should first search for answers by looking at what others are doing. Individual inquiry leads to trouble, we are shown. Unpopular statements, no matter how true, are better left unsaid. Even when movie heroes get to read the writing on the wall, this is always presented as a case of last resort.

In this way, if we want to blame someone for our blindness, we never lack good candidates. Every time that we close our eyes to problems and embrace a wrong solution, we can contend that we saw it on television. Every time that we place our trust in patently unworkable schemes, we can argue that we heard them on the radio.

Such excuses, nevertheless, will never bring us peace of mind, since inside, we know the truth only too well. We can all be cheated for a while, but no force in the world can make a man ignore reality day after day. Inconsistencies won't let you sleep when you pretend to believe what in practice cannot be achieved. The present is consistent with the past. The future is consistent with the present. The writing on the wall is there all the time to remind us to think for ourselves.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Wolfgang Staudt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The importance of reading the writing on the wall (Part 2 of 2)


How have we become so blind? Which invisible force makes us dismiss uncomfortable evidence? What leads men to push aside all prudence and disregard patent signals of danger? Can we not see the destruction that arises from overeating, excessive drinking, and profligate spending? What moves us to close our eyes instead of reading the writing on the wall?

The answer is hard to accept, but it's all about conformity. Such lethal errors, such fundamental mistakes are never made innocently. Our darkest ambitions push us towards places that we know we should avoid. We willingly follow wrong signals and fool ourselves with the excuse that everybody does it.

Conformity comes from the fear to stand out as individuals and speak out our mind. The desire to belong to a community turns from positive to negative from the moment that it makes us ignore obvious signs of trouble. Without our overwhelming faith in the stories we are told, we would easily remark details that don't match and figures that don't add up.

At school, we are seldom encouraged to think independently. Exams frequently consist of repeating theories learned by heart. Research projects are often rated on the basis of a student's ability to quote other people's opinions. Original ideas are not welcome. We are taught that it is safer to repeat bromides than to draw our own conclusions.

Most movies tend to reinforce the idea that, when it comes to making decisions, one should first search for answers by looking at what others are doing. Individual inquiry leads to trouble, we are shown. Unpopular statements, no matter how true, are better left unsaid. Even when movie heroes get to read the writing on the wall, this is always presented as a case of last resort.

In this way, if we want to blame someone for our blindness, we never lack good candidates. Every time that we close our eyes to problems and embrace a wrong solution, we can contend that we saw it on television. Every time that we place our trust in patently unworkable schemes, we can argue that we heard them on the radio.

Such excuses, nevertheless, will never bring us peace of mind, since inside, we know the truth only too well. We can all be cheated for a while, but no force in the world can make a man ignore reality day after day. Inconsistencies won't let you sleep when you pretend to believe what in practice cannot be achieved. The present is consistent with the past. The future is consistent with the present. The writing on the wall is there all the time to remind us to think for ourselves.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Wolfgang Staudt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]