If I can direct what you think, I can control your conclusion.
It is like blinkers on a horse. A horse able to see only in one direction is less likely to stray.
Whether I say “Think of a pineapple” or I say “Don’t think of a pineapple” I can guarantee that the image in your mind is that of a pineapple. The dissent is an illusion.
Today, we have become so comfortable with blinkers, that we are uncomfortable with unlimited possibility. We need one aspect to evaluate and we need to arrive at a clear conclusion. Multiple perspectives bother us, particularly if they don’t lead to same conclusions. Conclusions that need a trade off bother us – we have been conditioned to feel humiliated by less than perfection.
Government distributed bubblewrap instead of blankets to save money and prevent sale for money leading to people still shivering in the cold. People saw it as an insult to the poor to be given a cheap alternative. Questions about where the tax money goes, insults to the government about wrapping them in bubblewrap, etc. Predictable.
But there are actually a gazillion things to consider before deeming this appropriate or inappropriate. Does it work? Will it last the winter or how often will it need replacing – too frequent replacing will mean no savings or possibly greater expense? What about the environment (plastic)? What about windy conditions? What about younger people who may suffocate? And so on. An overall conclusion needs much thought.
This is a relatively low impact conclusion. The recent debate on the FDI in Retail is one where the debate was clearly on one track – economic opportunity. Dissent was about lack of opportunity. But what about social implications, political implications? Impact on rich poor divide, unemployment, lack of accountability in privatization, abdication of reform, quality control, examples of the impact of big retails in other places….?
The nuclear reactor protests, dam protests, whatever. Most debates follow one established track, form opposing camps, get flatlined by stalemate.
Creative solutions are the need of the hour. And creative solutions don’t happen from banging head on wall. There is an art in knowing when to flow around obstacles, when to compromise, and when to pick a battle to fight. That art lives in an agile mind, free to think in diverse ways, interested in thinking “unapproved” thoughts with unknown results. Such a mind is quick to abandon something with high resistance and approach from a direction of common interest, low resistance and constructive solutions.
Part of the corruption in the country is a corruption of thoughts. Stupid people suit exploitative leaders. If I can bring up something I want done in a way that guarantees you measure it based on aspects I am prepared to defend, all the dissent in the world is actually my plan for getting my idea passed. At the very least I can make the dissent look uncivilized and against public interest and override it.
It is instinct that makes us oppose something. We register aspects in diverse ways, but if our thinking is limited, we are not able to express them in the blinkered view. Our arguments look stupid, and we are set up to fail. Yet, we cannot abandon them, because we experience their importance, even if we can’t convey it.
Result? Stalemate. Lack of progress, sabotage of change, attacks on people threatening the status quo.
We have crises on every aspect a country can be in trouble in – economy, health, energy, human rights, security, agriculture, unemployment, education, media, censorship, terrorism, intelligence…. and more.
Our country is entering a dark, dark phase. And it is not just the economy, it is democracy itself. With diversity dead, democracy is rendered meaningless. Unless we are able to work functionally with diversity, we are going to stagnate to our death. It is a make or break time, and this is the great struggle facing all citizens of the country – how to break free of the limited perspectives and deprivation oriented defensive stands and really engage with all stakeholders to create solutions rather than victories at the cost of others.
For that, we need to take off the blinkers. I think this is urgent and important.