We Americans have had many wars. I don’t just mean the obvious historical ones, like Civil War, Korean War, World Wars (one and two), Vietnam, Desert storm, and the ones going on right now (that we know about) in the middle east. I am talking about how we use the word “war” for everything. The “war” on drugs (that worked out brilliantly), the “war” on homosexuality (total success-just ask Pence), the “war” on terror, are just a few. But how often do we hear and even use the word “war” in our everyday lives? From my observations over the last few months- A LOT. “So I told him, look if you cannot help with this project, the entire staff is going to be at WAR with you.” a woman in a navy pinstriped skirt-suit says into her cellphone while waiting for coffee. “You may have won the battle, but I am going to win the WAR.” a father ribs his son after a quick game of one on one. And of course, the current POTUS (trying actively to avoid typing his name) repeatedly declaring his WAR on the media.
Of all of the wars that are on our collective hearts, minds and tongues in the united states, the one that seems to be never ending, getting stronger with each passing decade, and is gaining momentum by the day since the election is the war on intelligence. Not the CIA, FBI, Secret service intelligence. (Although this too, is being waged war on) I am referring to the war on our ability to have and form thoughts, share our opinions, create action and then give ourselves permission to, stay with me, change our opinions, thoughts, and actions based on new information and data. I am referring to the human instinct deep within us all to thirst for knowledge, and the drive to not only help ensure our own survival, but to empower and rise up others with our visions, words and actions. Why does it seem that people all around us are consistently choosing comfort over compassion, possessions over progress, loathing over loving, and ignorance over intelligence?
Students in Cancun, Mexico celebrating spring break were filmed chanting “Build that Wall!”, and many supporters of our current president STILL don’t know that Obamacare IS the affordable care act, and they will soon be losing their health insurance. Let’s face it, America. WE.ARE.STUPID. But why are we so proud of it? And why, when faced with the correct facts of a subject we hold a particular stance on, do we hold on to our disproved opinion as if it the last lifeboat on the Titanic? Why is our pride so strong and motivated, but our mind so weak and complacent? I am assuming that the parts of us that are strong have only gotten this way with regular practice. And when you grow up around people who do not value intelligence, but instead value cheap, easily accessed entertainment, who do not value different, but value conformity, who do not value verbal debate, but value physical confrontations, and who do not value making peace with those around them, but value making WAR, this is the result.
But although many a country looks to us as a tragic joke, (who could fault them?) I am confident in my feeling that there are many in the US who still have that human instinctual desire for knowledge and learning. Who, even in the daily atrocities that are being committed in the name of ignorance, hatred, racism, misogyny, greed, and most of all FEAR are choosing to release their pride and bigotry and strengthen their knowledge and understanding. Who, when told to fall in line or be punished, choose not to save their lucrative career like Ben Carson, but to put their comfort and security on the line like Colin Kaepernick. Who make choices based on facts and morality, not fear and conformity.
It may seem that all is lost, in these times, intellectuals. Do not lose heart, but practice with mind. For this is the knowledge that NOTHING is ever as it seems.