Without being aware of it anyone who claims that they do not play chess or do not know how to play the game of chess is a liar. It may not be an intentional lie, but it is a lie nonetheless. For each one of us the game of chess begins the moment that we take that very first breath of air. Over the years as we get older through an education that we receive we are able to gain more knowledge and better equip ourselves for this game that will never end until the day that we take our last breath. If it was not for the game of chess then the media would not be able to be bias and try to tell so many of us what we are supposed to think and feel. In an earlier article that I had written “Knowledge is Power And It Gets Abused” followed by “Knowledge Is Power And It Gets Abused Part II” I spoke of this game that those in power like to play with us. Today I am going to speak more in depth regarding an important part of this game that some call life or as I have taken to calling it, chess.
A topic that is often discussed is the division of our country. These discussions usually feature things being said like David Hogg said this or that, or protestors did this or that over in such and such a city. There are also discussions about how bias the media is. I’m honest enough to admit that I am guilty of all of the above. That’s because like so many others throughout this great country of ours I sometimes allow my thoughts to be influenced by what I see or read in the news, or by acquaintances, friends, and family who speak to me about various topics. Some people call this tribalism, others call it an allegiance, as for me? I say it doesn’t matter what label you slap on it. Regardless of the label it is only a description of the problem but it doesn’t really define the problem itself. Instead of describing the problem what we should really be asking is what makes our us any more or less tribalistic? That is the million dollar question.
One of the biggest factors that has caused such division and tension in this great country of ours is intellectual conformity. It hasn’t just occurred in one small rural neighborhood in some state in the heartland of America, or even one or two states. Instead like a cancer intellectual conformity has occurred all over this country. In one of my earlier articles I mentioned how the right word here or the wrong word there can make you think or feel whatever it is that the writer is trying to get across if they do their job well enough. Right now, right this very moment as you sit here reading this your thoughts are conforming to the message I am delivering in this writing if I do my job well enough. Don’t let that happen. I don’t want that power over you. Instead I want the power to make you stop and think for yourself because by allowing you to think for yourself I am giving you the greatest freedom that I ever could. No other media source is going to ask you to not let them influence you but instead think for yourself.
What is intellectual conformity? It’s bending to peer pressure. We tell our children don’t smoke just because their friends are smoking. We tell our children not to drink just because their friends are drinking. We hope that our daughters won’t let themselves be pressured into sex. We try to tell our children to think for themselves and make their own decisions. Why the hell should they when you won’t even do that yourself? You’re a hypocrite. Rather than thinking for yourself about any given issue it is just so much easier to adopt the ideas and thoughts of others as your own. When you don’t have the balls and the backbone to challenge the thoughts of others then why should your own children? I will be honest. I used to be more heavily involved with a group of people who didn’t think too highly of my publishers Halsey English and Stefanie Nicholas. If I had not decided to get to know Halsey and Stefanie for myself I would have missed out on knowing two of the best people I’ve ever met on the internet. This is what being strong enough to think for yourself allows you. It allows you to form your own thoughts and opinions instead of just saying I’m this label so I must back this.
When we are weak and we allow ourselves to become intellectually conformed to the thoughts of others we often find ourselves in groups of people who think and act like we believe we need to think and act. Over time we lose track of things like principles, ideas, values, and we become more committed to the group of people that we have found ourselves in. Instead of being loyal to our own individual values and beliefs and letting that be a starting point for why we feel or don’t feel a certain way we put our emotions into things like policy positions. Our views stop having so much to do with independent thinking and more about group affiliation. I will use my publisher and friend Halsey English for the sake of an example here. When we first started talking I knew for a fact that he didn’t think too highly of certain people I was associated with. One of the things that I made clear to Halsey is that I do my own thinking and wouldn’t allow myself to be manipulated by either side in a tug o war game between his dislike for some of those who I was friends with and their dislike for him. He could have shot me down right there. If he had then it would have been his lost as a person because he never would have gotten to know me and what I’m about. Instead of shooting me down this man who I am proud to call a friend today respected the hell out of me for that. Things have changed since then. Since I became friends with Halsey and Stefanie some of the friends I had on the other side have made the decision to pull back from me. Not all of them, but some. Those who chose to pull back from me will either wake up one day and see what they’ve lost while renewing the friendships that we once shared or they’ll just go on their way. Either way I maintained my freedom and let it be known that I make my own judgment.
What this should show is that if we sit down and talk to others that we may or may not agree with, or that our group that we are associated with may or may not agree with, if we really listen to them and hear their principles and ideas, we might actually build a genuine respect for them. You might even be blessed like I am and find an angel or two of your own like I did with Halsey and Stefanie. Not only did I find Halsey and Stefanie because I opened communications to the other side of a disagreement I was also able to find Justin as well. Since I haven’t really mentioned him before he’s a young man in college but when I listened to what he has to say he’s smart as hell and has some interesting things to say. But through open communication you place the building blocks for a respect to be formed between you and them and you will find that you are less inclined to hate the other side. They stop being the enemy and just become someone who thinks differently than you do.
But this isn’t what the weak minded intellectual conformist does. The social justice warriors and the left aren’t interested in seeing things from our point of view. Some where in the middle of all of that craziness they have invested their emotions into hard specifics. It’s like the Pink Floyd song “Another brick in the wall.” There is a good chance that for most Americans the policy positions that they have taken didn’t come independent thinking, questioning, and discussions. If this were the case then they would not be so inflexible and intolerant of others who do not agree with them. It is my belief that there would be room for compromise if someone’s policy position had been determined by thinking that they had done for themselves instead of bowing down to peer pressure.
It is conformist thinking that leads to a broken down troubled society. This kind of thinking really isn’t all that different from other kinds of herd behavior that have caused issues for this great country of ours. For an example of conformist thinking and herd behavior the easiest example that can be pointed to is the holocaust. Over 2/3 of the Jews in Europe lost their lives because people didn’t think for themselves and went along with whatever Hitler spoon fed them. If more Germans had thought for themselves then perhaps a lower number of Jews would have had to be killed in the holocaust.
Being a free society does not get rid of our natural instinct to want to fit in. The need to conform is both psychological and biological. It’s just the way our minds are made. This is in no way a get out of jail free card that relieves people of responsibility. There is no excuse for allowing ourselves to be overcome with the need and desire to fit in when herd behavior and intellectual conformity that we are a part of are the very things that are destroying society.
The greatest thing about this country is the freedom that we have and enjoy. Out of all of the freedoms that being an American allows us to possess the greatest of those freedoms is the ability to think for ourselves. Through independent thought we are able to break the chains that the media and society would place upon us and try to steer society in the general direction that we feel it needs to go. An America full of citizens who refuse to use this freedom is no better than the collective that is known as the Borg on Star Trek.