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 bondage remitted.” (Richard Jefferies, 1883, The Story of My Heart)
The whole world and particularly the United states seem to be locked into a power struggle that emphases consumerism, violence, power, and self-interest. The influence of patriotism and religion have decreased while depression, anxiety, and suicide have increased for individuals; and crime, conflict, and terrorism have increased for societies. For the sake of both individuals and societies, thinking outside of our current circle of ideas is urgently needed. Something more is needed to restore respect, responsibility, and decency.
Most of us spend little time thinking about what is causing the world’s problems. It takes effort and a lot of energy. We are to occupied with thinking about activities to meet immediate needs than to use that energy for less demanding matters. It is easy for us to stay within our own circle of ideas and avoid going “outside the box.” However, most of us at some time 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. Somewhere in each of us are questions such as why we are here, where we came from, and where we are going; or more directly what am I doing and why am I doing it? If enough of us could get out of our current boxed circle of ideas and think more about these deeper questions, decency, respect, and responsibility would increase.
Despite the pressure to meet immediate daily needs, built into each of us is a need to pursue these deeper concerns. 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. Religion and culture still provide answers for some people, but their stabilizing influence has decreased. Providing for these ultimate concerns now 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 to think more about what is really going on. It would reduce the discontent, depression, and anxiety for individuals, and it would increase cooperation and tolerance for societies.
“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.”