By Pat Pillar
Being part of this writing staff has many perks. One is the rational and intellectual discussions among members – even civilized discourse.
Since this is my first writing in this the first week, I want to explain the thought process in the articles to be offered.. While it is true that we can write our opinions, we have to fact check them. Even when the facts don’t match the article, we can submit it as sarcasm or a spoof.
During this process of fact checking I came to understand myself better. Our editor-in-chief does not get upset as the rest of us do. He practiced as a neuropsychologist for 31 years and showed the benefit of rational emotive thinking and experimental design.
I found that none of my ideas fact checked. I am a liberal and hold fast to my beliefs. In my writing here I came across information that has turned my world upside down. The conservative writers have the same problem.
So while I come to grips with my awakening I had to find something to write about that met the guidelines of our writing experiment. We write articles that we discuss from both a philosophical view and a literary angle. We experiment with writing techniques that will be presented later.
I decided to write about a long discussion we (the staff) had on thinking and emotions. I saw an article that mentioned how the human heart sends out electrical impulses under certain stimuli. I made the comment that I think with my heart. I was asked to give an example of “heart thinking.” I couldn’t do it. As I said the things that defended my statement I knew they made no sense and were not verifiable.
We think with our brain. We extrapolate and say that a kind or kinder thought comes from the heart – but it doesn’t. I associate with many people who believe that the heart, the muscle that pumps blood, has a mind of its own. These people tend to be females who think that men also have a penis that thinks.
We laugh but that logic is observed by people, some who realize how inappropriate that thinking is. I saw an article on a recent former Saudi king who not only believed the world was flat but ordered you put to death if you disagreed.
My colleagues likened my thinking as no different that the Saudi king. The discussion morphed into being right and being wrong. This proved very enlightening because being wrong, in our culture, comes down to a feeling. Facts, rational, measured bits of knowledge no longer matter.
For example if someone lies to me I get upset. When presented with not one but numerous lies by a candidate I support, I did not give all the lies the weight it deserved as a lie my neighbor told. At this juncture it was no longer a discussion, it was therapy.
Then the therapy addressed my being upset. Of course I was upset. Most people would be upset finding out that their life had a major thinking flaw at the center. This led to the statement that “all feelings come from your thoughts.Irr ational thoughts irrational feelings”. There were exceptions like feeling gas or abdominal feelings which were autonomic responses. But I understood. I had a flash of insight.
“When somebody calls you a bigot or a racist, doesn’t that upset you?” I asked one staff member.
“Initially it did. But since I know I am neither I had to ask why my opinion on a subject leads that person to say that. That’s when you see that one’s thoughts lead to one’s feelings. This person, who preached love, thinking with the heart, acceptance of another viewpoint, lied. They lied to me and worse to themselves. Their thinking is no different that the world is flat and if you don’t see that then you are a racist and a bigot.”
“So how come so many people support this person?” I asked feeling justified.
“That’s the sad part of any culture at its very root.. The irrational becomes the norm and nothing you say, no facts you offer will change that.”
“What about a comment that someone makes that is inappropriate?”
“Good example, let’s take a political candidate or talk show host that you don’t like. Let’s agree that we all don’t like this person. But he says something that offends our belief in what we want to accomplish. But what he says is accurate and to the point. Our dislike for the person overwhelms the validity of the statement let alone his right to say it.”
“But I read a study that said his facts were wrong,” I said.
“If it’s a fact it is neither right nor wrong, it just is. You then put that fact into a thought process that will make that thought acceptable to what you believe. But then you have to decide whether your belief is warranted.”
At this stage I wanted to know. Maybe there is a reason I can’t sleep at night, maybe my thinking is wrong. Heck, I eat well, I pray, I wish nice things for people and I volunteer. That should prove my thinking is right.
“If psychologists or medical doctors can prove with a high degree of accuracy that dogs from Mexico that come across the border carry a virulent disease that will kill with impunity anyone who comes in contact with that very specific dog, what would you do?”
“That’s not fair. You are comparing an apple to an orange.” I replied.
“Okay let’s make it simpler. They are bringing apples and oranges across the border. And we know that one of these fruits harbors a death sentence. But we don’t know if it is the apple or the orange but it is certain.”
“You’re being ridiculous”
“That’s how I can resist getting angry. No matter how the argument is presented I am wrong, I am a bigot and a racist. I ask a simple question about fruit that any rational person can answer, but you won’t because following that logic you know the rational answer to the next question. And that answer does not match your belief system or your agenda.”
“So my side wins.”
“If you call that winning, unless I get enough racists, bigots and rational thinkers to counteract your logic. You see I do not have the beliefs you think I have so I have to allow the real bigots and racists into my camp to vote for what is rational.”
I must admit I got angry at this discussion. The group seemed to not care. When I got home I sat down, thought about what we shared and wrote this article. There is a saying in my country of origin, “If enough people beat their head against the wall –the wall will fall down.”
By Pat Pillar