Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | March 20, 2009

You Can Lead A Horse To Water…

…but you can’t make him think.  Quite a bit of the time that I spend thinking about stuff, I think about, “what about people who seem to truly just not care?”  Mindfulness and all that are great but the effects are non-transferable, as the airline tickets say.  A lot of people just don’t feel like making the effort, or something – so, can peace be accomplished when there are people who aren’t interested in peace?  Well, as long as your society has a strong culture of respecting the rule of law, and people at least keep their behavior under control because of it, there is the appearance of peace.  But there is also a constant underlying potential for violence.  To take just one example, Reuters reported Wednesday:

The head of AIG told the U.S. Congress on Wednesday he was reluctant to reveal the names of employees who took home bonuses because the troubled insurer has been receiving death threats.

“All the executives and their families should be executed with piano wire around their necks,” Edward Liddy, chief executive of American International Group Inc, read from one note.

“I’m looking for all the CEOs’ names, kids, where they live, etc.,” he read from another.

Their children?  Really??????  <shudder>

The people who wrote those notes sort of give the idea of the type of people I’m talking about here, although… not quite.  I think what I really wonder about, are the people who seem to just never really think about anything, at all.  These people are an impediment to true peace because they can be induced to do just about anything – or at least allow it to happen – and these people make up the majority, according to Becoming Evil by James Waller.  So what I’m really trying to solve is, how do you get people to care, enough to make the effort to think critically for themselves?  I know part of the answer goes back to development of conscience – people aren’t going to care about anyone else, if they don’t first care enough about themselves to want to know themselves, and knowing yourself is hard work, and takes a long time, so it’s really not too surprising that a lot of people don’t bother.

Is it the case, that so many people just lack curiosity?  I don’t think so.  Who ever met a little kid that wasn’t curious about everything?  I think it’s innately there – but it has to be nurtured.  I do think that too many people have that innate curiosity squashed when they’re young.  The question then becomes, is there a way that they can get it back? 

Maybe some people don’t feel that they are worth knowing – even to themselves.  Or, maybe they would rather not know, than take the chance of trying to “find themselves” and discovering nothing there.   But actually, the more you look, the more you find.

I don’t know the answer – yet.  But I feel that so much turmoil comes from the lack of these answers, I will certainly continue to try to solve this.

What do you think?



  1. Hey! Just stopping through!

    I love your thoughts…we seem to be treading similar lines….why are people so passive? Why do they submit to totalitarianism?

    This has been a tough question for freedom fighters throughout history.

    I had an awesome teacher from Argentina who told me there were three evolutions of mass participation.

    First, there was the “people”, to be represented by the “nation” (French revolution). This is bottom down.

    Next, came the “masses,” represented by a “leader” (Peron). This is bottom down.

    Then, and this is hopefully where we are going, the multitudes representing themselves (internet, spontaneous organization..see Evo Morales or even in a small sense Obama who is still a pol but at least rode a wave of grassroots support to topple the establishment’s pick). This is top up – dare I say the A word?

    So maybe if folks were more inspired to put more into the world, to interact with their community and society, to participate in shaping things. A much more tribal structure or at least sense of responsibility/belonging.

    But the forces that drive us are very strong. And as you mentioned perhaps what is squashed in many children is irrevocably gone. The younger generation is always the most important to work with/support.

    I think the generation of ’69 understood this and really pushed values such as self-esteem in society and their children. Today there are countless articles about how selfish, sensitive, and tough to manage the millennials in the workplace are…I think a whole generation of young adults hitting the labor force is finding out that their sense of pride and self-worth are incompatible with the status quo.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. I like the commonality between our blogs. They are just different versions of the same message. I don’t pretend to know for sure, but when I just read this post I came up with the following explanation (which is partial at best). It stems from the line of thought, “Is it the case, that so many people just lack curiosity? I don’t think so. Who ever met a little kid taht wasn’t curious about everything? I think it’s inantely there – but it has to be nutured.”

    I think that at least part the problem and are part of the solution is education; the current use/manifestation of education is the problem, yet if used properly it will teach people “to care enough to think critically for themselves.”

    The current education system is based to much on teaching facts and knowlegdge and then grading on retention. The reality is that when you grow up, you will have plenty of opportunities to learn facts and knowledge about the world, but when you are developing as a child is more important that you be taught how to think critically rather than what to think about. K-12 education seems to based on setting the tone for what educated people should think about, when in reality there is no one set of ideas that is complete (especially that can be taught in ~10 years).

    I am not advocating that we get rid of core cirricula in school, but I think that a more dynamic approach needs to be education that allows kids to discover and chose their educational paths much earlier than when they chose a major. For the first grader who like music, but only gets to go to music class for a couple of hours a week, give him the option to play more music. For the third grader who is good at math but doesn’t like reading… give him the chance to extra times tables and learn long division rather than forcing him to learn history. This is an incomplete thought, but I think it is along the right path.

    The true goal of education should be to have people think critically, not to have them know facts.

  3. Activephilosophy, you are right. And happily, I’ve learned there actually is just such a program as you envision! See my International Baccalaureate post.

  4. to expand on the point about people not finding themselves. I think a lot of that is the that the self has been marginalized in favor of things. this leads to less introspection and more outward thinking. you can thank corporate marketing for that.

    also, the internet and it’s technologies will mature an with it the people’s ability to use it ubiquitously for organization and decision making. think a wikipedia talk page being used to codify public policy. the people will get there. the barriers to participation just need to be lowered a bit more.

    on another note i find the idea that we should murder corrupt corporate heads and politicians altogether wonderful. i cannot think of a more expeditious way to skim the fat of the top of our society. if those in power do not fear us, they will show no regard for us.

    think of this like training a dog. when the dog knows that you are it’s master, it will behave as you want it to. if you are ambiguous about it’s role, the dog will inevitably do whatever it wants. watch dog whisperer if you don’t believe me.

    so we train people in power to behave appropriately or else because without consequences you get things like the last administration. if they had any respect for the people and our wishes we would not be in these wars. (among other things)

    • I’m horrified and a little frightened that you call the idea of murdering anyone “wonderful”, to be honest. We are and must remain a society of laws. If what they have done is illegal, prosecute. If it’s not illegal, then if what they have done is wrong, work to change the laws to prevent it from being done in the future. How could anyone accomplish anything, if they had to fear that someone, somewhere would feel free to decide what they had done was “wrong” enough in some way, that it justified murdering them? Our society has problems, to be sure, but what we need to do is work to solve those problems, not cause the collapse of the whole society. That would guarantee far more suffering, in total, than even currently exists.

      If we were to, as you call it, “train people in power to behave appropriately or else”, it wouldn’t even make sense to then refer to them as being “in power”. It sounds like what you are advocating is a full participatory democracy, rather than a democratic republic as we now have. That is appealing on some levels, in theory, but in practice? One of our ideals is that all people are equal, and one of our rights is freedom of expression, but these two together don’t mean that all ideas are equal. Some people know a lot more than others about certain things and it is best for everyone for those who are the most knowledgable to be the ones writing policy about those particular things. They should have the obligation to explain their policy to everyone, so that everyone understands it to the best of their ability, and opinions should be taken into serious consideration at that point. I don’t think it’s quite correct to say if they had any respect for our wishes that we wouldn’t be in these wars. At the time the US invaded Iraq (can’t say “declared war”, because we didn’t), public opinion was quite strongly in favor of doing so. Of course, that opinion was heavily influenced by things that weren’t actually true – and that is a HUGE issue. I would like to see Cheney in particular, and probably others, prosecuted for that, but certainly not murdered. I hope you’ll reconsider your position on that.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: