Thoughts on thinking: Summer ramblings from northern pastures

By Scott Carpenter
web posted August 7, 2000

A short while back I wrote an article suggesting that 'group think' was one of the main mechanisms responsible for the spread of collectivism in our age. I also suggested that the main way in which 'group think' grows and spreads is through the refusal to think.

Shortly after this article was published a friend wrote to me and suggested that the problem was not a refusal to think but rather "group think" was the result of 'wrong thinking' (say that ten times real fast!). Being to busy to sit and think the matter through carefully I let the issue slide and politely agreed to disagree on the subject.

But as June came to a smashing halt and my annual summer hibernation from politicking and writing began I soon found myself thinking (of all things), rather seriously, about this seemingly insignificant disagreement. Slowly I began to realize that this disagreement - although at first seemingly semantic - was far from nothing.

While there are those who do refuse to think and are thus easily led by those who do, the main mechanism by which collectivism and group think spreads is through 'wrong thinking' or a refusal to use reason (logic) as one's main premise and guide for any future thought or action.

Thinking (about pretty much anything) should always start from the beginning. What is the beginning you may ask? Well... how about this: reality - it exists. Period. Simple, eh? But, regardless of this truth, reality has come to mean something quite different than what it should while 'real' (it's root) has, quite amazingly, retained it's original definition.

Being 'real' is to exist but reality has come to be interrupted as something that each of us defines independently of our environment and each other.

We are told from the time we are quite young that each one of us experiences his own 'reality'. Sorry to say this 'teach' but you got it wrong. There is only one reality - it exists independent of our own existence - what happens is that our experiences within that one, sole reality are different. That's it.

In short: we are all subject to the same natural laws - especially the law of causality. How we choose to live within this reality will bear different results for each of us. We all reap the rewards or suffer the consequences of our actions. Reality can neither be shaped nor avoided. It simply is.

And therein lies the reason that collectivism has taken such a strong foot hold in what used to be the freest continent on the face of the planet. People have forgotten that their actions and yes, even their thoughts, can have consequences that were not intended. It seems the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Indeed, the demise of Liberty has not been ushered in by gun control, socialized medicine, increasing taxation or the growth of the police state but rather by our own inability to think correctly. How simple yet how incredibly complex a problem.

I was alerted to the tremendously large scope of this dilemma a few weeks ago when I received an alert from one of Canada's leading pro-firearms organizations which debased the federal Liberals for destroying Canada's 'democracy' through gun control legislation and the degradation of our "Health Care System". The contradiction was so blatantly obvious I wondered how anyone could have missed it. To state that one has a right to the ownership of one's own property (i.e. firearms) but not to their own life or the means (i.e. money) to keep it healthy was a contradiction to the tenth power. We are suffering the consequences of this wrong thinking now - the growth of the nanny state and the zealotry of the masses in supporting it has become, at times, a seemingly unstoppable leviathan.

I am thus reminded of the scene in front of the Alberta legislature shortly before Premier Kline tried to ram through his controversial 'Bill 11' [A law that would legalize the establishment and use of private health care clinics across the province]. Hundreds - maybe thousands - of raging, screaming statists gathered in front of the legislature crying absolute bloody murder - all because they believe they have the right to each others (and mine and yours) hard earned dollars for the purpose of: "Continuing a standard of health care access that has been a part of the Canadian culture for almost a century."

Yikes.

Yet these same folks will stand there and tell you to your face - without cracking a grin - that it is immoral to steal from your neighbor or anyone else. If this is not a glaring contradiction I don't know what is. So how does one combat this growth?

The good (and frightening) thing is that all of our actions have consequences. In the end we cannot go on in this manner without suffering a fate worse than death. Perhaps that is why sporadic voices of reason do appear out nowhere in the main stream press more now than in the past.

Perhaps we, as a nation and as individuals, are feeling the pain of our own silliness. People are hurting financially and physically because of the choices they've made and the thought patterns they've adhered to and now they are looking for a way out.

Listen to the voices around you; Canadians complain bitterly, on a daily basis, that taxes are too high, the government is too nosy and too big, and that life is becoming increasingly difficult to live for abundance of red tape and bureaucracy. As professor Pierre Lemieux wrote in his article "Democratic Disagreement and Liberty" we are "fast approaching" a time in our history where we will have to choose between one of two systems - tyranny or freedom. This naturally implies that we must choose to either think properly on issues that effect the lives of ourselves and others or to continue to keep our heads buried firmly in the sand while refusing to connect the dots.

In the end - whether we like it or not - the only two choices we have are between think properly and survive' or 'think improperly and self-destruct'. The more I think about it the more I think Liberty is a finicky little bitch that will not be trifled with. But I'd rather obey reality and sleep with Liberty than ignore existence and live with tyranny. What remains to be seen is how much hardship the general population is willing to endure. When will enough be enough?

Scott Carpenter is the web master of Liberty Free Press.

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