I spent a lifetime trying to help young people take possession of their own minds, helping them think and ask fundamental questions. I often wondered if mine was a futile and perhaps even a wrong-headed task. But then I came up with thoughts like the following which I posted about six years ago and which still ring true.
I sometimes I wish I could join the ranks of the ignorant, because I am told that ignorance is bliss — and I would believe it. I would also believe:
• that global warming is a fiction invented by liberal (and therefore “wrong-headed”) scientists and our planet is not under threat by greedy capitalists.
• that elected officials are smarter than I and are only concerned about the common good. And mine.
• that the armed forces are comprised of dedicated young men and women who have devoted their lives to protecting my freedom — and not the interests of Big Oil.
• that Big Oil is devoted to developing better and cheaper ways to make my life more comfortable, and not, as some insist, to increasing their already massive profits.
• that the continued use of torture and drones will eventually win the war on terror — and not simply label this country as morally bankrupt and increase by tenfold the numbers of would-be terrorists who hate me and my country (and everything we stand for).
• that Wall Street provides the paradigm of success by which we should all guide our lives.
• that corporate CEOs are devoted to improving their company’s products and the lot of their employees rather than cutting corners and pocketing more than 400 times what the folks who work for them make.
• that Christmas was about “Peace on Earth” and not materialism and profits for retailers.
• that the money the very wealthy spend backing selected politicians will produce the best and brightest leaders in Congress who will transcend party loyalties and work together for the common good.
• that our democracy is a government of, by, and for the people and not of, by, and for the few who control the vast majority of wealth in this country.
• that the more people who carry guns the safer the world would be.
• that the players on my favorite sports teams aren’t taking PEDs and that the Mafia never gets involved in fixing sporting events — at any level.
• that everything I hear and see on Fox News is the truth.
(I would only add that I would now think the coronavirus will be over by Easter because our president has willed it to be so. But I know better.)
As I say, I wish I could believe these things because I suspect I would be more at peace and better able to sleep soundly at night, confident that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds (as Pangloss would have it). But then I would be delusional, and I don’t think I want to be that. So I will continue to read and think and attempt to make sense of the little I know while I try to be as realistic as possible about the things going on around me — bearing in mind the words of the very wise Socrates who said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”