The Great Purge


Sometimes I feel the need to start from scratch. Relearn. Recalibrate. I don’t know where to begin though. I do not mean I am looking to abandon my beliefs, my fundamental principles. I do not think one should. I would like to know, though, how I discovered them and why I subscribe to them. Why do my intellectual instincts go toward one direction but not the other?

There is quote I like. To whom it belongs, I’m not sure. I don’t want to bother to look it up because I’m busy at the moment. But it goes something like this. “A strong mind is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts at the same time and still think.” That’s the quote, or thereabouts.

Notice he didn’t say “and think correctly.” He just said “and still think.”

I used to think politics was the key. That it was the place for debate and big ideas. How stupid and foolish of me to ever consider that to be true. Politics is a variant of pop-culture — A giant, stinky city dump where ideas and civility go to rot and wither away under the sun. It is a cheap imitation of the real.

I am tempted to say, at least in our times that is. That would be wrong and naïve for me to say. It has always been that way.

No the foundation, I’m speaking the foundation of us all, lies at the heart of philosophy and reason. What philosophy exactly, I’m not sure. Whose reason, I’m afraid I can’t answer. But we must be bigger than petty issues. We have to be or we are all doomed.

Is there no room for original thought? Why do we study the philosophers and great minds? Is it because it has become a dead science? Have we become unable to produce any of our own? I’m afraid so. We group-think, that is what we do.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll stick to the tried and true opposed to the untried and unverified. There is wisdom in that, I think. That is why I draw the line with intellectuals. Too many of them think that ideas are more important than people. People precede ideas.

Sometimes it is a curse to be interested. To learn is a burden. Knowledge in one subject leads one to uncertainty in a hundred others. And that is exactly why many of us stop just short of thinking. Sure we approach its boundaries. We may even peer over its walls. But its vastness is a little unsettling. The mountains are so high. The thought of not having neighbors is frightening.

Instead we settle. We find the crowded camp we belong, stake our tents and chant and recite.

I could be mayor of such a camp town.


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