Thinking is a Second Choice

bestI have already made the case that work is a distant second choice. Is thinking work? If thinking was not work, more people would enjoy doing math problems.The process of thinking is very tiresome. For people who don’t normally think, the mind tires very quickly. Attention wanders off into daydreams and fantasies. Just being awake and conscious is easy. Concentration is very taxing. Ask a human being to concentrate and he might leave the room, order another beer or smoke a joint. Chances are he will pretend to think as long as someone is watching. Thinking is very tiresome so it is much more preferential to let someone else do it.

The natural aversion to thinking is one of the reasons democracy is so hard to maintain. People vote their fantasies instead rather than come up with a rational choice. The brain grabs sound bites. The mind records them like a tape recorder. The human then adopts these notions as personal original thoughts. Voters almost never have any substance to their opinions. The opinion of a voter has about as much originality as a parrot babbling on a perch.

Back in the days when I drove a taxi cab I would always chat with passengers. This was during the Monica Lewinsky scandal so there was a lot to talk about. I would watch the news at home and hear talking points by one side or the other. Very frequently the phrase, “The American people want…………” would be spoken. The next day I would pick up passengers at the airport. It never failed, people would say “The American people want…….” whatever was said on the news the night before, would be repeated as if it was an original idea. These passengers were not day laborers. They were executives, attorneys, professors and other professionals. In their jobs, they probably relied on tired old dogma, conventional wisdom and manipulative skills to get by.

Thinking is very rare. Thinking is work. Those of us who engage in thinking have built up our mental stamina over many years. Thinking for about 30 seconds is all most minds can tolerate. Citizens line up behind candidates when their world view or some of their sensibilities appear to be supported. Usually political views reflect more of how a voter wants to appear to his peers. People believe they’re thinking. They seldom do. They copy.

There is a lot luck involved in electing a president. It appears that Americans have been terribly unlucky for most of history. Democracy was initiated with the belief that citizens would think and make the best choice, and then oversee the elected leaders’ performance in office. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen that way.

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