A while ago, I did something a little weird (ok, a lot weird and annoying, lol). I got on this post on TNC about fellatio and pretty much spoiled the fun for everyone. Did I know what I was doing? Yeah. I often find it hard to deal with how adults find it hard to appreciate that other adults can do certain things deliberately and that therefore they should be wiser in their interrogation of their behaviors. Many of the people who commented on my behavior on that post spoke like they couldn’t conceive of the idea that I did what I did deliberately, that is, in full recognition of the impact of my comments on the enjoyment of other readers and on my own public perception.

Now, that’s not really as surprising to me as you might think. I understand selfishness. It prevents people from seeing things and other people as other than extensions of themselves and their will. Many people take issue with me because I spoil the fun for them, not because I really do anything wrong (nor is spoiling the fun necessarily anything wrong although I think that it can be wrong sometimes). And I have done the same several enough times in my own life to other people. As I have said a few times, I have lived this reality of being called the buzzkill for a long time. It’s not new to me even if I still find it rather painful and unfortunate. So, I’ve known for a while now that many times people respond to me in the manner I experienced on that post – and have experienced on other posts too – it is really because in their minds, they are the center of all existence and their convenience and comfort is the most important reality for all things and all people with whom they interact. Only in so far as they can’t impose their will on some external force will they allow any violation of that convenience and comfort – and many times, not even then.

But what does this mean for this world, for life, for relationship, for community, for society?

How does the world grow? How do human communities develop? How do we approach perfection and a state of existence where everything is good and there is no harm and nothing that causes any kind of damage in the world?

Before you engage any cynicism you may have, consider that it is impossible to endure the demands and rigors of life if you didn’t believe in the ideal of a perfect day when there will be no hurt or harm. This is because the whole point of trying to get something better than what you had a moment ago is because you are, consciously or not, approximating to that perfection you might claim does not exist or cannot exist. When we humans create new technology and propose new philosophies or design new models of life in one form or another, it is always in our quest for evolution into a perfect state of existence. Without that pursuit, we would not even bother with clothes and caves. We would be mindless beasts for whom living or dying is all the same thing.

Thought then is how we grow and make the world better. The quality of our thoughts determines the quality of the life we make with our decisions. This is the proposition of intellectualism. It is also a deep inlay of the foundation of Christianity. Jesus Christ said that a man is what he thinks in his heart. Paul says that humans need to be changed in the way they think in order to do different things than they did. Christianity lays great emphasis on intellectual redemption and development. But, even if you cared nothing for Christianity, it is extremely difficult, in fact, I dare say that it is impossible for anyone to do anything independent of their specific thought patterns. You simply cannot separate the quality of your life from the quality of the decisions you make and that latter is determined by the way you choose to think about life.

But then, thought is not something totally individual. Contrary to the philosophy of Individualism which I think was popularized by the West (The United States of America, specifically), the human race functions very much like a hive mind. We humans do not individually survive well cut off from society. Social isolation tends to affect human individuals in very unpleasant ways right up to impairing immune functions in us. Perhaps there are exceptions but the vast majority of humans need community to survive, to say nothing of thriving. And our interactions are all decision-based. That means that society is essentially a constant intellectual transaction between all participating individuals. Our ideas and moral values are then in constant negotiation. The goal is, as I already said, a perfect state of existence.

This means that at all times, people’s conversations or interactions bring their values and moral judgments to the fore. People with like values will find it easier to cohere while those with disparate values are likely to disagree, sometimes violently too.

But it is much easier to find disagreement than agreement because every human being is a complex quantity. Subscription to a particular philosophy usually happens with heavy editing for each individual. In other words, two people claiming to hold the same beliefs soon find that they disagree on some of those beliefs.

How do we deal with these disagreements and disparities? By discussion and debate. Communities and societies survive because of the possibility of debate and compromise. People table their preferences and then, ideally, debate which is the most reasonable and then hold that one up as the ideal to which everyone is obliged to conform. But that ideal is not always the case. The debates are not always seeking to be reasonable. For a number of people, they are just contests of popularity. So, if logic and reason are not allies to a position, humans tend to employ coercion, force, threats, subterfuge and emotional manipulation to win their position.

The result of this is often retrogression in the human pursuit of utopia. This is why in the long term, it’s not popular with people. After suffering the effects of anti-intellectualism, people tend to get impatient with emotional appeals and less concerned about threats. But, very often, by that time, the damage is done.

Anti-intellectualism is the rejection of the intellect. It happens when people would rather not be prevailed upon to think about things. There is the “you’re over-thinking it” accusation; there is the “you’re too serious (or intense)” accusation as well; there is the “you’re no fun” accusation too when someone demands intellectual scrutiny of something people would rather take for granted because, as they claim, it’s just innocent fun.

But, is it really true that anything can be just innocent fun, completely unanswerable to logic and reason? Take some time and think about it. Is there any stone so small that when it is dropped into the ocean of human life and time, it makes no ripple?

There are many many fora on and off the Internet where human beings negotiate their values and morals. In my experience, the greatest value and, in fact, the most central and necessary to the survival or usefulness of such fora is the possibility of no-holds-barred debate. If people cannot be allowed to think and challenge and hold to a code that they must permit themselves to be intellectually challenged as well, the quality of ideas that they produce will decline and so will our life as a race as well. The truth of this is evidenced many times over in the vast number of poor economies in existence in our world today, not least in our own Nigeria where any display of intelligence and actual concern for life and corporate existence – whether deliberate or not – tends to be considered rude.

Life changes as our thoughts change. I think that it is immediately evident then that we should be very much invested in driving intellectual development and concern for even the smallest things in life. Increased responsibility and investment in life this way will mean better inventions and greater discoveries and more effective policies and plans as well as much much better personal decisions.

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Od

A Christian.
Comments
  • Avatar
    Toni

    Keeping hold of the thread you weave through your argument isn’t a walk in the park, but right down to it I agree with the gist. One’s attempt to stifle differing opinions in a debate is an attempt to thwart progress, because our existence in the human society is only bettered when we have broken with the norm. Think of the “pioneers” in any field you know; the very title “pioneer” denotes that they held unpopular, much contested views until they were proven right, hence pioneering new advances in that area.

    @Od people with opinions that are away from the popular/accepted often have a unique perspective on issues and should be given fair hearing, no matter who’s feathers get ruffled. And it is near foolishness that such people are usually not heeded until it is too late or the person passes away; then we’d begin to call them “visionary,” “ahead of the times”

    If only we’d learn to listen now when it matters most…

    September 9, 2016
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    Sparks & Tingles

    Welcome back OD, I thought we had lost you.

    September 9, 2016
    • Avatar
      Exclusive

      I thought the same. I’m glad we didn’t. 🙂

      Now, back to reading the post. @Od just likes long things sha.

      September 9, 2016
  • Avatar
    Fola

    Didn’t know I missed you that much until I saw your name and realized how much I did.
    The world isn’t always black and white, at times it’s red… Kidding…at times it’s gray, so there’s room for innocent fun,entertainment etc that might not necessarily be answerable to logic or reason.

    September 9, 2016
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    Lanre

    I thoroughly enjoyed this! I am of the opinion that there are complexities and angles unseen with even the tiniest things, maybe because I love critical thinking. Well penned @Od, well penned.

    September 10, 2016
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    Priscilla Joy

    Omg I love this, you see I’ve been thinking about anti-intellectualism lately and how our immediate instinct to squash anything that remotely challenges the status quo is seen as radicalism and rudeness, especially in the larger setting. The thing is when it comes down to it; it’s an issue of power, oppression and lack of imagination. Power on the part of those who love the status quo, the people who are being served by it (even if sometimes they may not recognize that the water they refuse to stir or allow to be stirred keep some people in a state of oppression) and then lack of imagination on the part of those who aren’t being served by the way things currently are but can’t think of a better way things could be.
    I read something once that said “What the world does to you, if the world does it to you long and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself. You become a collaborator, an accomplice of your own oppressors, because you believe the same things they do”, this might be extreme but it’s a sad truth because we’re born into this already established institutions, cultures and traditions where we’re required to adapt, conform and work with what we’re given and not have any independent thought or questions whatsoever. Most people in most places, in most times are seen as inferior, the poor always vastly outnumber the rich, the powerful are fewer than those they hold power over and adult men hold superior status in almost all societies, though they are always outnumbered by women and children. And most people, even now, consider this state of affairs or certain elements of it as natural, necessary, and unchangeable, it is the way it has always been and therefore the way it must be and this is often displayed in the form of convictions which if looked at closely enough you’ll see the foundation of those convictions are based on ignorance.
    We all have good reason to be cautious, to be quiet, not to rock the boat because a lot of peace and comfort is at stake and we might just loose favour with people especially when we have this “how dare you have an opinion” “who is this one” and the likes. But the question still remains, can we go on from what we know now, or does what we know now keep us from opening our minds and learning what we need to know? One of the most powerful tools we can employ is the imagination, it’s the ability and willingness to imagine alternatives to reality as we know it, which is often the first step towards making different and better realities possible and this can be done through storytelling, that is why art is so so important. By offering an imagined but persuasive alternative reality the reader’s mind can be dislodged from the lazy habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live. The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, universal and is unnecessary.

    But we’re making progress, I believe we are.

    September 10, 2016
    • Avatar

      What a superb and insightful contribution! Nice one 🙂

      September 14, 2016
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    Don Flowers

    This is a beautiful write up and it is brilliantly put across. That having been said, I disagree that certain things in life must have a logical and intellectual foundation. I should think that the very definition of entertainment connotes a relaxed informal non intellectual communication.

    There is no absolute theory in this respect.

    Further, an intellectual discuss is only interesting when both party seek to learn as against setting out to force feed their pre existing conceptions and biases on all without a willingness to admit that slightest merit in the postulations of the opposition.

    September 10, 2016
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    Iyanu

    I couldn’t get the point. Felt like I was reading a GMAT textbook and my brain was getting hot.

    September 11, 2016
    • Avatar
      Anonymous Aboki

      awww, your poor brain..

      September 14, 2016
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    Kad

    @od you have been greatly missed.Oh and your post was thoughtful and long as always, giving your internet provider a run for their money,lol.

    September 14, 2016
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