Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Feeling Thoughtful

Feeling vs. thinking in today’s world.
I’m feeling thoughtful today, so I thought I’d give you my thoughts on both.

I know that the thoughts I am about to write constitute a convoluted, thorny, and entangled topic, but, oh well.
Notice I said the ‘thoughts’ I am about to write, rather than the ‘feelings’ I am about to express.

First let me say, “A significant percentage of any population is psychologically damaged in some way or another.”
That’s right.

I don’t have any numbers in front of me because they’d be impossible to quantify, but there are an inordinate number of people who’s thinking is unduly influenced by the damage they have incurred in their lives; damage that can go all the way back to childhood, or which could have occurred much more recently.
By ‘unduly influenced’ I mean inhibited, restricted, stunted, compromised, and subjugated to one’s own feelings. That’s right, subjugated to one’s feelings.
What we are subject to we are dominated by, whether we are able to see it for ourselves or not. Unless the damage is acknowledged, and dealt with responsibly, it will continue to enable our feelings and repress our ability to reason.

The restricted development of one’s intellectual capacity enables the further cultivation of, and reliance upon, feelings above everything else. How one feels becomes the primary motivation in one’s life, determining relationships, social constructs, careers, spiritual paths, and even one’s politics.

Damage to one’s soul, or psyche almost always affects one’s emotional well being, invariably stunting the intellectual growth of the individual. When the emotional quotient of a person rises to a level of dominance over thoughtfulness the person can very easily become stuck in his, or her, pain (feelings). It can lead them on a lasting search for ways to feel better, to feel good, and often ends up with the individual embracing an extremely skewed relationship with reality. It becomes an ‘us’ (the wounded) vs. ‘them’ (the dominant) world. The individual will see things in black and white (good vs. bad, the privileged vs. the disadvantaged, the sensitive vs. the uncaring. Everyone in jail is innocent, rich people are evil, poor people are righteous, minorities are special). These convoluted feelings solidify themselves as enlightened thinking, and ultimately become the adopted politics of the wounded.

Feelings are good to have. They are what keep us from becoming cardboard cutouts of actual human beings. But the ability to think for ourselves, and to reason, is what allows us to navigate our way into, and through, beneficial situations; and away from, or out of, circumstances, belief systems, and ideologies, that would set us back or do us harm.

Many people are locked into the feeling that what they do feel is the most accurate indicator of how things actually are. But that application of feelings invariably trumps logic and reason for the individual much like suicide trumps the continuation of life. Being locked into one’s feelings is the life equivalent of being stuck in the mud. Eventually one has to think and reason their way out of the swamp. Feelings will only keep a person stuck there (It’s not fair that I’m stuck in the mud).

The cause of psychic damage, which ultimately provokes people to embrace their feelings over a more general thoughtfulness, is as varied as the kind of weeds you’d find growing in an old vacant lot. It can include such circumstances as an abusive, or domineering, parent, divorce, an immoral, or exploitive teacher or caregiver, and drug or alcohol abuse. It can take shape in someone who has been the recipient of violence, unforeseen tragedy, lack of control over circumstances, religious indoctrination, poverty, and, yes, even privilege. The change-over from thinking to feeling most naturally occurs in, or around, adolescence, as young people experience rejection, isolation, alienation etc., but it can find its way into the DNA of just about anybody, at any age, who ultimately chooses to regard their feelings as more important than someone else’s capacity for reason.

Ironically, young people fall back on feelings just as they’ve begun to become more adept at deductive reasoning. Feelings charge in and take over like a bad disease. Adolescents have already learned that the world is a pretty scary place, that it is a major challenge to navigate, and that it requires some knowledge and experience to establish, embrace, strengthen, or maintain, one’s own position on any given matter.

But feelings, well, they require no proof, no tangible experience, no conclusive arguments, and no logic whatsoever. Feelings can be used as weapons to disarm an adversary, as barricades to hide behind, and as substitutes for actual wisdom in almost any situation. They can give the holder a sense of power and control. Feelings cannot be questioned, they cannot be challenged, and they cannot be denied. Logic cannot do battle against them, and reason cannot root itself in their shallow soil.

It is understandable for the young to become feelings oriented. And it is even understandable for them to get stuck there for a while. It is, however, disconcerting, when one grows into adulthood but still maintains a feelings-based orientation. By then it has become seriously inhibitive to the persons development. As it becomes more culturally acceptable to hang onto such an orientation, society eventually becomes as dysfunctional as the individual adolescent.
Just look around.

It is dangerous for one’s politics to emerge from such an immature foundation. It is dangerous, and it is lazy. It is certainly not logic and reason that prompts many of us to elect our representatives in Congress, and in the White House. It is feelings. The savvy political manipulator’s know that (Change we can believe in).
Unfortunately, thinking is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
As I’ve said, “Just look around”.

Feelings are not something to take pride in, to trumpet, to celebrate, to hold as conclusive, to wallow in, or to foist upon anybody else.
They are, however sadly, a very safe place for the stunted, for the compromised, and for the immature to reside until they can find their way out of such profound, and prolonged, subjugation.

For the mature adult, feelings are something to be managed with skill, and with every good intention.
They are never to be scattered like rice at a wedding.