Think on these things By Robert Wheeler
“Let me exhort everyone to do their utmost to think outside and beyond our current circle of ideas. For every idea gained is a hundred years of slavery remitted.” (Richard Jefferies, 1883, The Story of My Heart)
World affairs and our domestic culture seem to be locked into a power struggle among its leaders with emphasis on consumerism, violence, and self-interest. The benefits of religion and patriotism have decreased while depression, anxiety, and suicide has increased for individuals, and the lethality of conflict and terrorism has increased for nations. For the sake of both individuals and nations, thinking outside of our current circle of ideas is urgently needed.
For most of us, thinking is not something we spend much concern about. It takes effort and a lot of energy. Furthermore, we are well occupied with thinking about immediate activities to avoid using that energy for less demanding activities. It is easy for us to stay within our own circle of ideas and avoid going “outside the box.” However, most of us sometimes reach out for new ideas and answers to deeper questions because there seems to be more to life than just our daily struggles for existence. I remember that first time I was camping out in the back yard, saw the moon at night and had deep thoughts about what else was out there that I could not see. And I still have such deep thoughts despite the knowledge I have now acquired about astronomy and cosmology. Most of us at some time are confronted with questions such as why we are here, where we came from, and where we are going?
Built into each of us is a need to pursue these deep concerns that require deep thinking. For some it is ameliorated by religion or other belief systems that have been a driving force behind the advance of our species, culture, and civilization. For some it is a quest referred to frequently as spirituality; however, for most of us it is pushed into the background because of the demands of daily life. This push is magnified by what we see on TV, hear on radio, and read in newspapers and magazines that emphasize consumerism, politics, power, violence, crime, etc. For all of us, though, providing for ultimate concerns requires thinking outside and beyond the current circle of ideas.
Consider how different our world (and local community) would be if our media, leaders, educators, and politicians emphasized the fundamental human need for “more” that has been so effectively pushed into the background. It would reduce the discontent, depression, and anxiety for individuals, and it would increase cooperation and tolerance for nations.
“Whatsoever things are true,
Whatsoever things are honest,
Whatsoever thing are just,
Whatsoever thing are pure,
Whatsoever thing are lovely,
Whatsoever thing are of good report;
If there be any virtue,
And if there be any praise,
Think on these things.”