What were they thinking?

IMG_0222In England they put blue plaques on the outside walls of places important or at least significant people used to live. ‘Orson Wells lived here once’ sort of thing. A friend posted a thought provoking and mildly ironic photo taken outside somewhere George Orwell used to live. Bolted to the wall below his blue plaque is a large CCTV camera. The picture is actually a fake but someone clearly thought it was worth the effort. A pointed reference of course for anyone who is familiar with one of the key tenets in Orwell’s famous book, 1984, about the frightening development in his future imagined world of ‘thought police’ and ‘thought crime’.

In his grim future world, we would be pursued, tried and convicted for thinking the wrong thing. Sent to Room 101 for re-education in the right way of thinking, along the party lines, whoever the party happened to be and what the acceptable thoughts were at the time. The world famous book and generally impressive movie were relentlessly depressing. Imagine being controlled and persecuted for thinking the wrong thing?

Thankfully the nearest real life manifestation of this horrendous subjugation of the general public came and went with the rise and fall of Soviet Russia and the somewhat lightening of at least the obvious widespread repression in Communist China. The last proper bastion of thought police in apparent public practice is in North Korea.

And in our homes.

In our homes? Yes, every day, we judge and categorize people for what they think. We deem them worthy of our attention, adoration or opprobrium based on what they think. Simply according to if we find what they think acceptable or not. We form opinions of people, life long ones, on the way they think. With the arrival of social media, we can now take our own thought policing to a far more public platform. We can judge everyone, not just the people we know. If anyone on the internet is wrong, we can publically scold, humiliate and correct them with our opinion which is the correct one. Reading any comment section on any online newspaper story that allows comments reduces my faith in humanity. It’s amazing. People took time to log in, and compose that stuff. I digress…

It’s like this. You know people you have some sort of interaction with every day; you will treat them convivially should you share a common thought process or with barely concealed or outwardly displayed contempt because you disapprove of how they think. In that case you might have otherwise liked them very much, but they consistently and stupidly fail to see your point of view on something important to you. They dare to even think the opposite; therefore they are a complete ignoramus and lower form of life than you. Because they think differently to you. You also think differently to them but they maybe feel less strongly about it than you. Losers.

One of the great causes of explosive personal conflict is the argument over a strongly held difference of opinion, which is simply two opposing thought processes. The less articulate will come to blows rather than being prepared to accept someone might be a worthy person in general but unfortunately takes a particular view on a particular touch point, thus negating any other redeeming features. The falling out is often total, the judgement of character intense and destructive, because of an unacceptable train of thought by the other person.

It doesn’t have to be as extreme as religion although that’s certainly the most public, global and historic example of people killing each other in the 100’s of millions over the centuries for thinking the wrong imaginary friend created the universe. It could simply be politics which is ingrained into children by their parents. Children grow up having the family political view enforced upon them until they gain the educational wherewithal to form their own opinions about which political ideals they might have themselves. Most just vote for who their parents voted for, or threw petrol bombs at when rioting for democracy, depending on where they were born

Here’s a revolutionary idea. You know you could just ask that individual you are so contemptuous of to explain in detail why they hold such ridiculous beliefs, so alien to your own. Get some perspective and understanding rather than berating, belittling and briefing against people until they change their core beliefs to match yours, thus giving you a victory over them. It’s called broadening the mind, broadening your understanding of the world. Be a bigger person and have some understanding of what it is that people seem so intransigent about, you know, like you are?

Because someone thinks differently to you, doesn’t make them a lesser being. Frankly the world would be a frightfully Stepford place if this was the case. A planet of nodding automatons agreeing with each other about everything all day. Healthy debate is fun and invigorating, you learn things, chief among the things you learn if you debate rather than argue is understanding. When we have understanding we are able to agree, even if we agree to differ. When we agree on the principles but differ in the detail or vice versa we can achieve a compromise and in compromise we avoid conflict.

Some people vote left and some vote right, some people fix cars and some people make them. Some are good at sums and others can’t count to save their lives but can string an agreeable sentence together. Belittling a worthwhile contribution a person makes to their corner of humanity because they also believe in fairies is actually making you the smaller person. If you disagree with a train of thought, deal with the thought, don’t just insult the person. Show you bothered to understand what you disagree with, not simply that you don’t like it because it’s a view other than your own.

We see this a lot in politics, the uninformed party faithful on one side or another will often simply resort to personal abuse of each other rather than offering any sort of alternative political case. This is most widely demonstrated on social media because it’s the easiest platform to be ignorant before the masses. Sadly, far too many take and use that opportunity.

Be informed about stuff; don’t let anyone catch you out for an ignorant ill informed opinion. Every argument has two sides, both are right to those arguing. Articulate a point of view, don’t just shout the odds as that simply makes you look silly. So debate an issue instead, get some understanding of what motivates other people, what causes them to think as they do, you never know, maybe it’s you who is in the wrong. Now that would be a thing.

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