Whatever the benefits or horrors, I was brought up to think. Not that I was ever a perfected specimen of the realm, but the habit was instilled ... to make some effort to set aside the screaming desire to be "right" and consider the aspects and possibilities, to follow the Yellow Brick Road, even when it turned out to be a dead end, to collect evidence and add things up irrespective of ... well, irrespective of my own leanings or what the applause-o-meter or sages said.
Did this instilled capacity work? Don't be ridiculous. Bozos R Us. It's not a question of whether, it's just a question of to what degree ... and that's a question that can never be answered ... except of course by unrepentant bozos.
Yes, I'd like to think that I can think, that I can and am willing consider the aspects and plumb the in's and out's ... and then I realize there are some things are too huge or too offensive or too exhausting and I fall back in the La-Z-Boy of conclusion and explanation and agreement and belief ... even when the facts and facets twinkle and shine right in front of my thinking-capacity's nose.
Maybe all this applies to spiritual endeavor as well, but yesterday it was brought to my attention again when, for reasons I don't really know, I re-watched a part of a movie called "9/11 Mysteries." (Apologies, but I can't find a version that does not contain Scandinavian subtitles. The English voiceover is perfectly clear and the subtitles are a small annoyance but all English-only versions seem to be inaccessible).
OK, I hear the groans in the peanut gallery. "Another conspiracy theory," "another conspiracy nut," "another looney-tunes wing-nut." But I was taught to think and the movie is a perfectly good example of thoughtful thinking. It doesn't ask you to agree ... it asks you to consider, or, in other words, just to think.
So much of our latter-day thinking is premised in or founded on the events of September 11, 2001, when, among other things, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York were struck by two passenger jets and subsequently collapsed. "Terrorism" has become part and parcel of the language of political life, whether in America or elsewhere. Like "love," "terrorism" is never carefully defined because ... well, because "everyone knows what it means." The Department of Homeland Security spends millions in an effort to fend off similar crazy-guy attacks. The facets and aspects of a horrific event that claimed some 3,000 lives twinkle and glimmer to this day. 911 has become an assumption of the mind. In this, it is not much different from other painful and pleasant aspects of history: "The colonists beat the British ... want another beer?" No one is morally obligated to think, but where thinking is a possibility ....
The reason I only watched a part of "9/11 Mysteries" was not that I was offended by "conspiracy-theory-wing-nut" arguments ... which, in general, I find too self-serving. The reason seemed to lie in the recognition that where I was trained to think, the movie provided too much to think about. The movie provided science -- the buildings, according to its architects, were built to withstand an airplane strike; steel cannot be set afire by jet fuel and yet burning steel was found three weeks after the attack; eye witness after eye witness reported hearing or being knocked down by explosions in the basements that were 10's of stories below where the planes hit; an $8 billion insurance payout on buildings with a serious asbestos problem .... All this and more like it was the kind of evidence a thinking person would normally weigh.
And weigh I did, for as long as I could stand it. Every thinking bone in my body was tuned in, weighing the evidence, not with an eye to being right, but with an eye to being something less than my glowing capacity for bozo-dom. What was offered might be considered "best evidence" i.e. evidence from the scene, evidence from mature scientific understanding ... best evidence. Believing it and not believing it were not so much the point. Facts were the point ... the kind of inescapable stuff that thinking gathers and collates and ....
And this was the point I lacked the courage to address. If the horrific tragedy had been so horrific as to allow itself to be easily explained by government or media, if the scientific and other best evidence had been set aside in favor of relief and closure and assumptions yet to be made ... what then?
The thinking mind likes to think it thinks, but this thinking extends to answers -- the means of collecting all the facts and making them coherent when related to a given event. But as the "best evidence" heaped up in my mind, I realized that the alternatives to a La-Z-Boy understanding and explanation were more horrific than the actual tragedy. The implications were beyond heinous. They were grotesque and filthy ... and I really, really didn't want to go there. They would require a kind of determined thinking whose outcome was bound to be profoundly dirty ... the kind of dirty I did not want to get. "Evil" is too kind a word.
I turned the movie off. I did not want to know. I did not want to think. I wanted to think I was thoughtful but please don't ask me to do the thinking.
"9/11 Mysteries" was not a perfectly-rounded, conspiracy nut's wet dream of a movie. Its observations made no La-Z-Boy assertions. It just observed and adduced ... as any thinking mind might. It asked ... as any thinking mind might. It turned the faceted gem of horror this way and that in the light. It was a bit like journalism before journalism was bought off. It did not lay claim to "best evidence," but rather gave what evidence it thought a thinking mind might find relevant ... or at any rate curious.
Well, it's all history now ... morphed into conclusions that find ready agreement in public expenditure and peace of mind.
Maybe, when there is enough leisure time, some thinking mind will examine this bit of history and iron its wrinkles in some more credible fashion. True, it's not easy and it's huge-huge-r-huge-st, but who knows, maybe bushy-tailed thinker will take a shot at it.
Me, I'm too lazy and afraid to get out of my La-Z-Boy.