On Thinking

by Donald R. Barbera

Thinking is important as breathing.
Without thinking, deaths awaits
as surely as we stopped breathing.
Too often, we accept blindly
the way it has always been,
but inconvenience is no excuse
for not seeking the truth.

Searching hones the mind
and opens new pathways to thought.
We cannot take things literally
or on the word of someone else;
occasionally, it is important to veer off course
and explore the truth for our selves.

It is too convenient and comforting
to believe all think in the same manner as ourselves;
when reality tells us conceptions
are as varied as grains of sand
and just as numerous.
Literal thinking is the refuge
of the unchallenged mind
willing to accept
without listening to realty's call.

It is a form of intellectual dishonesty
to ignore the world's reality
and substitute fiction
to have a comfortable mind.
Sometimes the degree of difference
in fact and fiction is infinitesimally small
as the proverbial mustard seed
but as the mustard seed grows,
so does the chasm of difference
in reality from individual to individual.

Unwillingness to honestly assess
an opinion or belief different
from ours is mental in-breeding
that prevents accumulation of knowledge
and thus, ultimately, the gaining of wisdom.
Simply, wisdom is nothing more than understanding
that every story has a beginning, a middle and end;
and, that every story has a perspective
that is dependent upon who is telling the story,
who is listening and how the story is understood.
If understood, excuses for narrow-mindedness,
bigotry and intolerance become void
and is solely the choice
of those receiving the message
who alter its intent to fit their needs and biases.

If we are to understand,
then we must listen.
Understanding is an active process.
It requires activity from those who wish to be understood
It also requires attention from those who wish to understand.
Those who do not seek to understand
by necessity are ignorant, intolerant and superficial,
as well as cowardly, depthless and dangerous.
Condemnation without understanding is tyranny.
Perfection is the only true measure of man
anything less is not a true instrument.
Though it may be an unachievable goal
the quest must be undertaken to live in truth
and strive toward perfection through knowledge.

Searching and understanding
opens the world for people.
Often, searching for truth
raises the ire of the status quo
especially when that search
leads to frontiers reaching far away
from what one has been taught.
However, that doesn't make knowledge invalid;
instead, it should make the searcher curious
and more willing to go further into the question
to refute erroneous and misleading information;
otherwise an argument based on sand
is an argument that will not hold water.

Each day we are fed misinformation
by the very leaders that we love and trust.
It is not out of hostility they do this,
rather, it is misunderstanding
and their own unwillingness to test the waters of reality.
It is easy to deceive ourselves,
especially when we have no experience,
contact or knowledge of anything
other than our own closed environments;
making us the equivalent of blind men
trying to describe the tiger's stripe
through our sense of touch.
Not only is it impossible to do,
any attempt is premeditated dishonesty
and intellectual avoidance of reality.

The mere thought of intellectual activity
is frightening and often considered subversive.
Intellectuals frighten people
because they have the temerity to ask why,
but we were all intellectuals at one time.
When we were children,
"why" was a favorite word
in our young vocabularies.
We wanted to know everything.
Instinctively, we knew
if the answer was not apparent
then we must ask.
Some say we are not meant to know everything
but that is hearsay and more of a medieval excuse
 that avoids honest assessment
and the search for knowledge.
Still, that is no reason not to seek an answer
to a valid question motivating one to seek the truth.

I search because I am always seeking answers.
Sometimes my search is disheartening and futile
and other times it is enlightening and instructive.
Never take answers as they are,
find the truth for yourself
and the answer will greet reality.
Searching is fuel that powers thinking,
and thinking brings knowledge
and through knowledge we gain wisdom,
which is the ultimate reality.

On Thinking by Donald R. Barbera

© Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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