Thursday, February 12, 2009
One of the most fascinating realities of human nature is our blind faith in individualism and human autonomy. The truth is we tend to make very few decisions based on facts, knowledge, and critical thinking. I was talking about this with a student/friend who has been slowly awakened the reality that he lives in a Left wing establishment in spite of all the anti-establishment talk and posturing from that same establishment. This has been slow for him because young Americans especially have a hard time "seeing" or realizing the reality they live in and continue to think exactly what our cultural establishment "tells" them to think.
In this regard, they are no different from their elders, because this is human nature. This is why people on the Left who vote democrat continue to insist in spite of the mountain of evidence against them that the republicans are more corrupt than the democrats. Why multiculturalism is good even though it is destroying Black America and now Hispanic America. In order to break out of this, they need to have an "ah ha!" moment that forces them to see something as it really is and forces them to understand their own humanity a little better.
I have discovered that a great way to get students and people turning this direction is to have them think about racism or slavery in American history. In my lectures on ontology and critical thinking I ask students to think about how many people were racists before the Civil Rights Movement. We talk about how a majority of people simply believed or ignored the truth of segregation and racism even though it was right in front of them every day of their lives. Rather than move on to the typical and predictable discussion 12 years of Establishment Left Wing Education has prepared them for, I then force them to confront their own humanity: "Given this reality, looking around the room of 20-30 people in it, our friends, fellow students, professor, is it not reasonable to conclude that if we were to time warp all of us back to the 50s that a majority of us would in fact be racists?" I then ask them if there is any way they can deny this. It ignites a great discussion and a lot of productive thinking. I ask them if there is any way any of them can guarantee that they would not have simply believed what their culture taught them to believe? No one ever raises their hand because the doubt is too clear, too obvious.
This is a great lecture, because it forces them to relate themselves to their "racists ancestors" in a way that is totally unpredicted and way too uncomfortable. It forces them to see just how easily deceived they can be by the cultural establishment. They realize that one of the great sorrows of human evil is that very often it is not intentional, it's just that we don't like seeing it, so we reinterpret it and create straw men to attack instead. It's Bush's fault, or it's a reaction to years of colonial imperialism. Some clever students even begin relating it to their immediate culture. "Are you saying that we have most of our values and beliefs installed in our minds in such way that we never know about it" Very disturbing and very enlightening. I have asked many of my students what this means for the world around them. Are they being fair when they interpret radical Muslims as neo-marxists who will suddenly not hate us when we give them their lands back and recognize their humanity? If it's understandable that the Palestinians hate and kill Israelis because Israel took their land would it be understandable if Native Americans suddenly started a terrorist campaign right here and now? (I have Native blood). How about if I decided to kill them? What if the Jews started blowing up targets all across Europe in response to thousands of years of anti-semitism? And here is the kicker- this was our last lecture last semester- what if the Iraq War turns Iraq into a stable democracy and and in turn destablizes Islamic radicalism and Arab despotism? One of my students who is a hard leftist, but has been thinking very honestly and openly, laughed. He said it would be traumatic, because Bush would end up being a great leader and visionary. He said what seems amazing is that it seems very possible...
There are a million directions such enlightening moments can take. I would advise letting the person take it where they need to take it. Because if real critical thinking has happened they are suddenly open to "seeing" reality for the first time. This can be painful and deeply disturbing as many of my students have told me. Doubt sets in on all sides. And that is good. Because the Left Wing Establishment has made it impossible for an open mind not to see their hypocrisy and corruption. Moreoever, the last thing we want to do is make the same failures my left wing colleagues have made and inadvertently indoctrinate our students and friends. If we are right, and people learn to think honestly, then as their minds are pried open they should begin to turn Right. If not, well, then they can help us correct our thinking. Free minds- that's what I aim for. it may seem contradictory given my opening argument, but I am not arguing for Utopia, just a little awareness. Those moments do happen. The Civil Rights Movement proves it.