We ain’t as talented as we like to think. If we were we wouldn’t be stuck in a society where many do not have a perceptual understanding of the global map, of inter-relationships between countries and who do not enjoy a fundamental understanding of the purpose of taxes and government expenditures used for the common good.
People often believe things merely because many other people do. The effect is often called herd instinct. People tend to follow the crowd without examining the merits of a particular thing.
In a herd, each individual is choosing behaviour that corresponds to that of the majority of other members, possibly through imitation or possibly because all are responding to the same external circumstances.
A herd is by definition relatively unstructured. However, there may be one or a few animals which tend to be imitated by the rest of the members of the herd more than others. An animal taking this role is called a “control animal”, since its behaviour will predict that of the herd as a whole..
Herd behavior describes how individuals in a group can act together without planned direction. The term pertains to the behavior of animals in herds, flocks, and schools, and to human conduct during activities such as stock market bubbles and crashes, street demonstrations, sporting events, religious gatherings, episodes of mob violence and even everyday decision making, judgment and opinion forming.
As more people come to believe in something, others also “hop on the bandwagon” regardless of the underlying evidence. The tendency to follow the actions or beliefs of others can occur because individuals directly prefer to conform, or because individuals derive information from others. – Wikipedia
We live in two Americas.
One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system.
This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection.
This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.
Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. … even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence.
A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book. –Chris Hedges
What gets interesting about this lack of intellectual desire is the apparent contentment with the immediate satisfaction of fast-food entertainment. This is what corporate marketing is aimed at. We folks are an ever-increasing across-the-social-spectrum majority of easily distracted minds.
Like it or not, the “fundamentals” of our economy, the infrastructure of cash flow, investment and accumulation is based on emphasis marketing that targets the more incurious – the simple-minded consumer and voter base.
The United States voting base is all of us. We constitute the highest expression of citizenship: choosing leadership – but only if and as we vote.
Could we not make the case that where we are politically in this moment is a circumstance that was the result of campaigns in which both parties had to run their strategy in this context of mental illiteracy?
How did we respond to such dumbed-down campaigning? We were the targets of a simple strategy intended to,As Hedges put it,
… ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation … manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal.
Supporters of both candidates who live in the world of life-long self-inflicted illiteracy of thought truly are citizens who should know better, who should pay attention and focus critically on not blindly supporting slogans and narratives that constitute creations of spin doctors.
Hedges declared that we confuse how we feel with knowledge and he’s right. One unassailable proof of this is the angry-old-white-voter base that makes up the majority of sleepy slurpers watching Fox News.
And then of course there’s the god-talkers who speak as if the Almighty were Chairman of a conservative coalition.
If we are to live in a society where God has a permanent active place in our national political process, it must not be the God of right wing absolute fundamentalism – the God-talk that is always in the news promoting its “victim” and “oppositional” agenda .
That anti agenda is in fact the foundation of a Taliban society. It is that same intellectual and spiritual illiteracy that seeks immediate emotional gratification by being spoon-fed someone else’s notions rather than using one’s own personal utensil of discernment.
We must be curious … we must ask yourselves what sort of mental exercise we complete if we let someone else tell us what to think, when to think and when to act on silly thinking.
We of the baby boomer generation opened the flood gates for the sort of world in which our children find themselves. We were the first post-WWII targets of what might have been a less-sophisticated but still powerful focus on message management as a means of social manipulation.
Then, as we grew older, when religious evangelical fundamentalists were offered vocal help from political talk jocks, things got worse. There were those who knew all about building dumbed-down anger as necessary to building dumbed-down majorities. They set about converting our generation of rebellious thinking children of the sixties. Their goal has been to change us into the gullible parents and grandparents of the next two generations for whom critical thinking skills has not been a priority.
What is the significance of critical thinking and a sufficient degree of intellectual sophistication in the civic life of this nation?
How else do you think we’ve arrived at a point in our history where impeachment has become an absolute necessity.
We together – all of us – left, right, center need to take corrective action. We need to quit assigning blame or guilt to who voted for or against who.
We have a serious problem. We need to fix this … now.