Friday, June 5, 2009


Stupid is as stupid does.

And stupid seems to be doing a lot these days.

People are catching idiocy at least five hundred times more often than they catch the swine flu. Yet, I don't see a natural outcry over this pandemic. Nope, folks are blithely going about their lives like this ticking time bomb doesn't even exist.

Frankly, it's scary.

We're at the end of our discussion of six corrupting agents in the black community, church and world in general. So far we've covered secularism, humanism, materialism, relativism and pragmatism. Now let's discuss mindlessness.

Some folks probably saw this on my original list and wondered exactly what I meant. Everybody has a mind, so what does it mean to be "mindless?" And why is that big problem for black folks or anybody else?

It's a crying shame when people have talent,or potential, and fail to use them. I know, I've often been one of those people. It's even worse when people purposely dumb themselves down, and fail to think or reason just because it seems to make their lives easier.

That what I see when I picture "mindlessness." I see scores of people refusing to use their God-given ability to think because they'd rather just relax. I see people clinging to tradition because they don't want to exert the energy to see if a break from tradition might benefit everyone. I see people using slopping reasoning because anything else would require too much work. Lastly, I see folks following the herd because being an outcast seems too painful.

The lure of mindlessness is strong. I know many days I've wondered if life might not be easier if I didn't think so much about my own motives and the motives of others. I have a friend whose said that her life was much easier when she didn't think about race and how it affected her life. Things were simpler then, more clear cut.

Nuance breeds complexity, which it turn births tribulation.

Didn't Adam and Eve learn that acquiring the same sort of knowledge as God had a terrible cost? Haven't we seen throughout the history of mankind that when people challenge the common orthodoxy, when they attempt to pull back the wool from their own eyes and grant others their sight, life becomes truly difficult?

What was Malcolm X doing if not railing against a mindlessness in the black and white communities that rationalized and accepted heinous acts as just being the way things were? What was Martin Luther King doing if he wasn't challenging us to use our brains to see the absurdity of the relationship between Christian blacks and whites?

The examples are endless. It's obvious that being a mindless, conforming drone can make your path smoother, but it's also clear, at least to me, that the price of that ease is much too high. Sacrificing your ability to think for the false elixir of dullness, is a slow death. Ultimately, you are like the servant with the one talent, who instead of working to earn more, hid his master's money in the ground. Destruction will surely be your reward.

I could talk about this topic more, but I won't. I'll just say that all of us must challenge ourselves to truly think about the world we live in, the beliefs we cling to. None of us should become so secure in our mindsets that we don't realize that the two constants in life are God and change. If we forget that truth, we will succumb to mindlessness.

Wasting our brains away.


older_not_wiser said...

A solid wrap-up to a thoughtful series, Big Man. Excuse my bigotry for admitting this isn't the sort of thing I expect from a Christian. Religion does have a reputation for not encouraging independent thought, and to me, a non-theist, one of its primary attractions seems to be exactly that: Accept the dogma, follow the rituals and don't ask too many questions.

But, I don't know. Maybe it's the inspiration of our president's recent efforts to reach across seemingly unbridgeable chasms, or maybe it's just an old man's weariness with endless discord and violence that begets nothing but more of the same. At its best, religion, like any other philosophy, has many more questions than answers. I guess it's not so strange that at least some Christians are not content simply to coast on the often-self-serving imperatives of authority.

We all need to constantly challenge our assumptions and push against the comfortable boundaries of habit. The particular goad we use to disturb our complacency is not so important.

Thordaddy said...

older but not wiser,

You need to ask yourself whether you believe in absolute truth or not? When you've answered this question truthfully then it should become clear that some religious "dogma" is just plain truth that neither you or I can ever change.

For instance, you wouldn't claim that those who go around preaching that you should not spill innocent blood were spewing dogma. You would ADMIT they were preaching the truth.

But because you claim to be a non-theist then it is assumed that you prefer to take the "scientific" worldview that nothing can be known for certain. Yet, it is not clear whether you recognize the consequence of adopting a belief system that says there are no absolute truths, but only uncertainty.

For most liberals, this embrace of uncertainty and rejection of absolute truth is necessary for pure freedom. You alluded to as much when you suggest that religion makes you "follow the rituals." But there can be freedom in following rituals if those rituals are actual truth.

But the ugly side of this anti-religious freedom is that you have no idea what to do with it. Because you know no absolute truths then you are completely helpless in orienting your life in any way other than an uncertain way.

That's why I say your nom de plume fits like a glove.

Imhotep said...

Big Man,, I hear what you're saying, but I don't agree.

My point of departure is where you say that the only constant are God and change. I don't think God and change can occupy the same space for very long, one will have to reign supreme. If God (the belief in) is a constant, can we honestly say that change has occurred? If change is to live up to its name, then God cannot be a constant.

Further, by your own definition, believing in God is an example of mindless. You wrote "The lure of mindlessness is strong" and "I see folks following the herd because being an outcast seems too painful."

I think we can agree that the majority of earth's population believe in one form of God or another. Would this behavior not be an example of the lure of mindlessness? or following the herd?

I hesitate to get into what is / not mindlessness, it seems like a judgmental exercise. That said, I think the inability or more to the point, the unwillingness to separate belief from fact is a sign of mindlessness, IMO.

Thordaddy said...


You only "see" change because of the unchanging nature of God. It can be no other way.

The materialist's primary assertion is to claim that change is constant. It doesn't dawn on said materialist that such a stance acknowledges the primacy of constancy or the state of no change.

The materialist, much like the atheist who acknowledges God before he rejects him, must acknowledge an unchanging backdrop onto which change can occur and be witnessed.

Further, when one accedes to the notion of constant change then "facts" become increasingly harder to identify as facts are those things that very often don't change. And if it then becomes the materialist's stance that even "facts" are constantly changing then he must explain his inexplicable and irrational dismissal of belief and faith.

Lisa J said...

Thought provoking as always. This one is definitely one that applies to ALL Americans. So much foolish anti-intellectualism not only runs rampant but is praised and rewarded in all communities, ie., Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, et al. It is SCARY and in this case I think that black folks mindlessness is more likely to hurt us more than anyone else, but these other folks mindlessness is affecting us all and is poisoining the mindset of our nation. It seems like so many truly sick people are just slithering out from the woodwork and from underneath rocks these days, and it is accpeted way to much and seems to go unchallenged, unless you count the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert and those are just comedy shows, the odd NYT article or op-ed, and a few non-corporate media outlets that hardly anyone listens to,watches, reads or knows about. And the tiny bit of push back from say a Rachel Maddow or someone of that ilk barely gets noticed compared to those fools. Though I am not religious, a very well educated person who I respect who is religious likened it to demons and a part of me thinks he may be right. Oh and I know you can't do politics but don't get me started on the first VP in modern history (perhaps all of US history) to go on an offensive against a sitting administration and barely getting called on it and getting more attentionall the time. THe man is mostly silent for 8 years and now he can't pipe down! I think this stuff is making my blood pressure go up!

Big Man said...

Thanks for all the comments everyone.


Well, I'm happy to have challenged your prejudice about religious folks. My experience has been that the religious and non-religious think about life about the same amount. Everybody is trying to figure out the best way to live.


Interesting point on change and God. I think that both can co-exist. For humans, change can be constant, just as God can be constant. It isn't until we leave this plane, that change no longer becomes a factor.


Thanks for being a loyal reader and commenter. And I agree on Cheney.

My pops once told me that if you're really a man, you don't have to go around proclaiming to the world that you're a man. People will be able to tell just by watching you.

The same thing hold true for being right. If you're right, you don't have to convince everybody you are right. Eventually, the truth will be known.

Deacon Blue said...

Nice wrap-up, sir. I'm amazed that as science advances, I see so many people around me who not only seem to get stupider but revel in their attacks on intellectual pursuits and wallow in their ignorance.

Why such things would be a source of pride for anyone, I will never comprehend.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Man, I would have to say mindlessness is so dangerous. That's why I general am attracted to people who want to grow and change themselves (thus the world).

I'm glad I had some time to stop by and catch this series. Good stuff. I would have commented on all but really on have a little time before I head out!


Raving Black Lunatic