Homo sapiens can properly attribute its advancement over the ages to its natural predilection for inquiry. Whether conducted by the (trial and error) method [still valuable] or the more modern, sophisticated process of academic research and experimentation, man’s quest for rational comprehension of himself and his environment, has shown success and yielded societal treasure.
Inarguably, the most valuable and precious gift to man by the evolutionary process, was an advanced brain, and secondarily, an opposable thumb. His capacity for thought enabled him to experience an awareness and understanding of himself and others, and as well, to utilize his evolved hand in techniques for survival, and in effecting alterations to his environment as necessary.
When man began living in society, interdependence and mutual defense left him time to develop an awareness of himself in relation to other individuals and to his environment, by providing further opportunity for the exercise of his innate capability to reason. Societies developed into larger groups, later city states and still later, into nations. Life was increasingly becoming more specialized and more interdependent, which resulted in still more leisure time and opportunity to explore man’s desired understanding of life and the world around him.
Such desire for advancement historically, and predictably, came into conflict with the population of each age who, customarily, would find it preferable to cling like lichen to their traditional, superstitious and atavistic folkways [the latter human inclination, often encouraged by the Church]. It took centuries, heretical prosecutions, imprisonment and even public executions, before the permissible acceptance of the heliocentric theory, viz. that the earth travels around the sun, rather than the other way around. Remarkably, there are those today, who persistently continue to deny evolution, despite archeological, biological, serologic, geological, and empirical proofs; they would instead prefer to charge believers in evolution with religious blasphemy [shades of the Scopes case]. Obviously, the benefits and enrichment of man’s life on earth, derived from legitimate breakthroughs in knowledge, are dependent upon their general acceptance by society. A well-known, abhorrent, remark says it all, “My mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.”
In an early post, we remorsefully remarked on the failure of the optimistic expectations of our founders, that citizens of good will would amicably and constructively debate their disparate views and that the outcome of such useful debates would inform the operations of government; thus attaining the idealized and intended, “government, for and by the people”. In another past writing, “The Death of Civic Amity,” we observed that, instead, an unforeseen and devastating result ensued. Rather than dedicated and informed citizens, dutifully and constructively, debating disparate views, the experience was the formation of insular, opposing cliques, composed of people, each professing mutually identical opinions; in hostile relationships with other like groups, sharing the divergent views. This unproductive and divisive phenomenon has been lately exacerbated by the appearance of the hotly contested issues of abortion, gun control, immigration policy and amazingly, climate change.
The etiology of such insular interest groups, as we are able to comprehend, is as follows: There are, within our diversely educated nation, substantial numbers of disaffected citizens, seemingly, lacking perspective and insight as to the root causes of their discontent and who feel ignored by those in authority, feeling powerless and frustrated. Many have received less than adequate education and lack the sophistication and confidence to make their grievances (real, and perceived) heard. This population furnishes the bulk of the raw material for such divisive groups. Acceptance of the individual by the group, and his adoption of its views, results in the cessation of isolated, sullen existence, and instead, offers the social brotherhood of shared opinion. It fills a vital gap, for those with a neurotic and unfulfilled need for acceptance and confirmed identity. Such priceless acquisition may well be purchased at the cost of one’s own (abandoned) views, but the social and psychological benefits, for such people are deemed, by them, to be worth it. Consistent and predictable “group think” now conveniently, and comfortably, supplants any need for assertive confidence and averts the dreaded specter of error or confusion. The member enjoys the relief from personal responsibility and potential vulnerability; his views are reliably in sync with, and safely submerged in, the mutually shared accord of the group.
Our appreciation of this dynamic, explains a great deal of much otherwise mind-boggling phenomena. We had been confused as to the glaring inconsistencies between the steadfast and “written in stone” principles of certain dedicated, even militant, interest groups, which appear to be belied by the empirical facts which are contrary to, and inconsistent with, their fixed and inflexible raison d’etre. We had been in a quandary as to why, for example, the[ falsely named], “Right to Life” adherents would go to the extent of committing homicide to “protect the fetus,” but uniformly oppose, vitally needed life- sustaining assistance to the needy child following the birth, or why such self-professed defenders of life, logically, can be opponents of all efforts toward reasonable gun control, and support capital punishment, how, on the other hand, the fervent supporters of the unlimited right to own or deal in guns including automatic military weapons,[ especially in light of the recent instances of mass shootings of innocent people, including young children] can be overt supporters of “Right to Life”, how traditionally minded family people, can countenance an immigration policy which includes the Nazi-style separation of babies and young children from their mothers, how the religious wing of the Republican party (especially the fundamentalists and Evangelicals) can still stand behind a President, a proven serial liar and egotist who boasts about his own illicit sexual behavior, and personal acts of sexual abuse, how the poor and needy can continue to be Trump supporters, despite his unfulfilled demagogic promises of assistance, and how the Republican faithful, (the” base”) can continue to support a President who expressly and falsely, represented that he would undertake to “drain the swamp,” but in fact, enlarged it to the proportions of a foul- smelling, Louisiana bayou.
We can see only one plausible explanation viz., the “Life” people are not interested in the fetus (or life) at all; the family people are not interested in the issue of guns; the immigration policy of separating children from parents is not the focus of attention for family supporters and the religious Republicans are not hot and bothered, by the sexual peccadillos of the [current embarrassment we are constrained by the, evidently precarious, Election Law, to recognize as] President of the United States.
The neurotic desire to be accepted by, and to please, co-members of the respective interest group, seems completely to override any need for the exercise of individual thought. The practice of thinking independently for oneself, would entail the unacceptable risk of incurring the displeasure of other members of the group, upon whom, so much [in terms of previously sought acceptance, and newly acquired self- identity] depends. This” existential” concern of such insecure individuals, thus seems, as well, to emphatically override, as convenient and necessary, the recognition of factual truth. These useless citizens are veritable potholes in America’s dedicated, Century’s old, road trip to an historically sought destination: the attainment of an exemplary democracy.