(Adolph Hitler )

The daughter of poet Wallace Stevens talks about her father sitting in a dark part of the house in silence. She approached his chair and asked what he was doing. “Thinking” he answered.

The art of thinking has become somewhat passé in today’s world. A few people use meditation as a means of clearing the mind, but I’m not sure if this would be considered thinking. I asked my daughter Vicki, before she became addicted to the internet and other gadgets, her definition of thinking and meditation and received the following reply: “While thinking I try to use my mental facilities to figure something out, but in meditating I release my mind from the thing process, allowing feelings and enlightenment from my subconscious flow into my conscious mind. In thinking I do a lot of talking to myself. While meditating I do more listening.”

How can people think with all the distractions in the world? People driving cars or walking down the street with either a cell phone to their ear or wearing a head set with blaring music. These are times when a person could be thinking. Music is everywhere; in elevators, cars, restaurants, health clubs, etc. One of my objectives today is the sounds of silence. Since acquiring a hearing aid, with an on and off switch I have found more time to have moments of peace and quiet and have time to think.

At home there’s TV, stereos, radios, computers, and other technological distractions that inhibit thinking. There may be positive results from not thinking, because they say that “ignorance is bliss.” If you wish to reach this state of bliss, follow the philosophy of the “The hanging Judge, Roy Bean” who listened only to one side of a case. Listening to the prosecution and defense made things too confusing. Watching Fox News while reading The New York times with an open mind could be a harrowing experience. One might be forced to think under these conditions.

Most Americans have other people do their thinking for them. They listen to biased radio and TV commentators doing their thinking for them. Some are so proud they call themselves “Ditto Heads” After a speech or debate, talking heads tell us what we heard and what to think. Thomas Edison said, “There is no expedient to which man will go to avoid the labor of thinking.”

Fundamentalist’s entrepreneurs such as Falwell, Dobson, Robertson, and Ralph Reed do the thinking for their flocks. They are much more concerned about other people’s sex lives and a tiny cell in a Petrie Dish than the maiming and slaughter of thousands of innocent Mid Easterners and American soldiers.

Their major goal is setting up a Theocracy. If they are successful I wonder if I’ll be able to have a concubine like Abraham and his descendents, as in The Old Testament. HL Mencken said “The curse of man and the cause of all his woes is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible”.

Fruitful thinking requires some advanced groundwork. My definition of intelligence is the ability to thoroughly look at both sides of a problem and then come to a conclusion. The test of first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and examine both with an open mind.

In politics most people can’t be bothered to think deeply about real issues. Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, did a study of the uninformed electorate .He found 3 out of 5 people confessed they knew nothing or not much about the Patriot Act. 65% didn’t know Congress had banned partial birth abortion and 70% were unaware of the new Medicare drug benefits. Two thirds of the public couldn’t name their own Congress persons. 50% of the population still believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 bombing. What’s the value of registering more voters if they don’t know what they’re voting for? Thomas Jefferson once warned that a nation could not be both ignorant and free.

Fellow Americans: Take a half hour or so every few days, sit in a darkened room with no distractions, and put on your “Thinking Caps”.


5 responses to “Potpouri

  1. I wonder if we avoid thinking because it might make us face ourselves more honestly. With the aid of Google and various commentators we can quickly get the “facts” and act as though we thought it through. Doesn’t make life too interesting, but we can appear like we know more then we really do.

  2. Vicki Sue McKinnis

    Such an excellent article, and point well made! I wish everyone in the USA would read and reflect upon this well delivered message…in fact, it hit home with me, and has given me pause to see where I can improve.

  3. In the past I have felt guilty stopping and thinking. There is so much to do to keep up with life and make enough money to survive I would feel like I was shirking my responsibilities. Now, I see being able to think as a great luxury. It needs to be done, it should be done ….thanks for the reminder of what is important.

  4. Dear Mr. Cooks:
    I have nothing intelligent to add to your inspiring article.
    However, I intend to make some time to meditate in the near future!
    Thank you very much, Sherri Brawn

  5. Jennifer "Doree" Starr

    I agree whole heartedly, we do not spend enough time with our “Thinking Caps” on. There is so much mental stimulation in the world today, music, billboards,television, cell phones that vie for our attention. I teach Nursing Assistants who find it very difficult to stop texting during class, they yearn for that “instant connection” that fills their mind in place of thinking.

    Our religion advises that we read and then ponder the scriptures, the time pondering should match the time reading. I believe the world would be a better place if we all spent more time pondering.

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