Friday, December 30, 2011

Conscious Conscience

I'm afraid this post might annoy some people but that's what I do so I can't help myself.
My theme today will have to contradict one of my favorite people, Thomas Jefferson who is only one of the greatest thinkers EVER!

Sorry, Tommy.

And I really do think a lot of him. I carry my camera in a black leather bag that I bought at the Library of Congress in Washington. The inscription on the bag is one of my favorite Jefferson quotations: "I cannot live without books."

Apparently, he could for a little while at least. After the original Library of Congress was burned during the War of 1812 (thanks, Britain), Jefferson sold his entire library of 6,487 books to the United States to start a NEW Library of Congress.

It is no accident that the main building of the Library of Congress is called the Thomas Jefferson Building.

So it pains me to contradict one of Jefferson's most famous writings, that "... all men are created equal..." Sorry, but they're not. Not even if you throw women in there, too.

One cannot simply select someone at random and have them play linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Most people would be killed during the first play. Not just because of the missing years of experience and training, but they just wouldn't be physically capable of that kind of punishment. If it were me, it wouldn't be my helmet that comes off, it would be my head.

The same is true of advanced mathematical thinking. Some people can perform such specialized cognitive leaps and stretches and others... can't. One branch of humanity is not necessarily better than the other, just different. But certainly not equal.

You can't just pluck someone out of a crowd and make them the leader. I've actually seen that tried and the results are usually a dismal failure. To be a good leader, you need empathy, strength and well... for lack of a better word, leadership. Arrogance, bluster and bullcrap can get you by for a while (I proved that), but you can't fool everyone forever.

But before some of you gentle readers respond by saying, "But Jefferson was saying men are equal under the law." Yeah, right. That's why some people can steal ten million dollars and get six months of house arrest and another person can steal groceries for their starving family and get thirty years of hard time. Give me a break.

We know enough
about genetics now that we know our DNA has an awfully lot to say about what we're going to be like. Eye color, propensity toward certain diseases, muscle density, etc.

But I believe the most important differentiating factor among humans is their level of conscious development. Are we conscious of what is going on around us? Are we conscious of the future results of our actions? Are we conscious of the impact that our words and deeds have on the lives of others?

I'm convinced that there have been times in my life when I have been completely unconscious. Living, working, sure, but living life like a goldfish. Three minutes at a time, with nothing in the past and looking barely beyond my footsteps.

I like to think that I've improved, but who knows. I like to think that my consciousness breakthrough came when I finally realized I was unconscious, but perhaps I'm still not conscious.

For the sake of honesty, Jefferson must have known he was exceptional. He must have seen instances in his life where others thought to present themselves as his equal and known that they weren't. I have seen these pretenders, those wishing they were something they are not, annoyed by the success of others in doing things they could not.

Jefferson could have shot such men down with an offhand turn of phrase, but instead, he chose to embrace them. He included them and all of the rest of us. We are all equal because we can all exploit the gifts we have as long as we are conscious of those gifts we have and those we do not. By such writing, Jefferson proved that he was more than equal.

See? I told you this post would annoy you. Yay!

1 comment:

Leah Kleylein said...

I'm not annoyed! But I do think it's fascinating how people's brains work.