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The Daily Paradox

Putting Our Mind to Work

Why not just call it thinking? That’s what we do when we put our mind to work, isn’t it? An irate boss once said to me “Think about it”  after we had had a misunderstanding (= row). I did, but what I thought about was how much simpler I had to be when explaining things to my boss. What I didn’t think about was my possible problem in explaining things, perhaps not only to my boss but to others as well.

The trouble with ‘thinking’ is that it means different things to different people.

The consequence of this is that we regard all thinking as somehow equal. Put like that, of course we realise it isn’t. We still shovel all kinds of rubbish into our minds forgetting that in one hundred years we only have 876,000 hours thinking time. And nearly 300,000 of those will be used for sleeping. Subtract all the other time you are ‘processing without thinking’ – or without thinking creatively – and you soon realise that you have very little time left to put your mind to work. That limited time is going to decide, as far as you are concerned, the way the world works, the future of the human race and what the priorities are for educating the kids.

What are we responsible for in this world? Many religions say that we are responsible for saving our souls. I agree, but may have a rather different definition of soul from most of them. Our soul is surely what we give to other people. I have met poor people who have nothing but who give a lot to those in trouble. They have big, generous souls. I have known very blessed people who give very little, not just of their money but of themselves.They are poor souls.

So how are we to give usefully?

By thinking about it. Here are two questions we all have to answer sooner or later. “Am I the person I want to be? If not, who do I want to be?” We don’t want to spend our lives studying our navels but an occasional self-appraisal is essential if we are not to get stuck in the doldrums with no wind in our sails and no destination in view. Take the current United States electorate gearing themselves up to vote in the coming Presidential election. Are they individually or collectively thinking about who they want to be? It rather looks like not, doesn’t it?

Now consider Alexei Navalny who just died in Russian custody. It would seem that he was very clear about who he wanted to be. You may say that it lost him his life but it won him his self-respect. No compromise is worth the loss of that. Do these two somewhat extreme cases mean that we should be devoting all our time to the world’s politics? Certainly not. We have lives and families and jobs to get on with. But unless we have a view about what is happening in the world we are abdicating our opportunity to make it better and neglecting our responsibility for leaving behind an improved society when we go.

Humans have reached a point where all our views and actions have immediate and wide meaning. We have worked hard to get here. Now we must work hard to see that our amazing successes in making this possible are used to make it fruitful too.

These are big questions and we are tempted to put them off until we have cleared out of the way all the minutiae of life. We should do the opposite. The little things can wait.

The impending holocaust of humanity can’t.

Can we please think about it today?

Good morning
John Bittleston

What do you think? We’d love to hear from you at [email protected].

17 February 2024