Monday, August 31, 2009

The Challenge of Human Thinking

Does society allow those with depression to properly heal themselves?

I think about all the Van Gogh's and Hemingway's of the world. Too often, we're not expected to worry about ourselves, but rather we're expected to conform to the pre-existing patterns, expectations, and stereotypes of our individual cultures.

I believe that part of what's lacking is an understanding that society benefits from an improvement in the individual composition of its members.

The proverb "charity begins at home" sort of sums up my larger idea. We can't help others until we help ourselves; we can't take good care of anyone else unless we can also take good care of ourselves.

Sometimes, it's hard to focus on the more abstract parts of our lives, and society often makes it difficult for us to do that, but I think those who are able (and have the leisure) to do this, provide a great benefit to everyone else through practical innovation and cultural benefits.

Just as society is basically a bunch of individuals, I think it reflects the judgments of each individual human being. As each human is pretty bad at thinking about anything but immediate and short-term causes and effects, society as a whole shares this same blindspot.

I think it is the duty of every generation to spend some effort contemplating "unconventional wisdom". I believe that we need the status quo to retain the efficiency of past generations, but I also believe that we need modification to improve the efficiency of the status quo. Someone has to knock down and rebuild or shift the partitions of human thinking to renovate and expand the library of human knowledge.

I relish living in a time during human history when innovation and creative thought are held in relatively high esteem.

Almost every successful leader in history that has made a profound impact on the world, has made their mark by seizing the inherent optimism and hope of human beings and then harnessing their combined faith to build new and remarkable institutions and empires. How much has the depression of a leader such as Abraham Lincoln contributed to the course of history? His melancholy may have helped save the Union, and given him empathy to hold together a fragile republic during a time of chaos.

It is up to us to recognize the impact that history and science have on the events which are unfolding now so that we can improve our lot. That's what a leader does. And yet, intellectualism is a crime and ignorance is a virtue in modern American politics. I am depressed already.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Society has never dealt well with mental illness. I believe it is a sickness as sure as cancer or diabetics. An interesting thought to ponder is what would a world without Poe or Lincoln would be like? (They were born a week apart by the way.)

Very nice essay.