How often are we told to think this way or that because of an opposing groups beliefs. We are told to let in refugees out of compassion, or keep them out to ensure safety. We are told to ban guns to reduce murders, and also to allow guns to keep us protected from murders. We are told to give to the poor out of love, but also increase our suspicion of them in case of panhandlers or druggies. We are told to go to war against a known evil, but also withhold war due to unforeseen consequences.
How utterly confusing it is to live in a world where everyone promotes a moral absolute for every issue under the sun. Whether a side is right or wrong, a lot of times they prescribe one virtue over another while labeling the other side as heartless or unreasonable. Is it reasonable for us to sacrifice compassion for our fellow human beings that are displaced, for the practicality of keeping our nation secure? Is it heartless to close our borders to hard working people, to keep away drugs and protect jobs. Neither side is promoting virtues that are inherently vile, uneducated, or immoral. Both are trying to weigh the pros and cons on a scale. What I see as vile, uneducated, and immoral, however, is when people only use one side of the scale. This one side may in fact contain virtues, good intentions, compassion, and a college degree, but that does not mean this a good or best choice. Whatever side you’re on, we all understand that using one side of a scale is wrong. It makes us lose sleep, yell at our computer screen, type out angry responses, and post blogs about it…
Mastering the usage of this scale is actually one of the hardest skills to even become proficient in. Think about the scales and measurement tools we use in science labs. It involves precise measurements, correct calibrations, and enough patience to endure and correct air bubbles, over and under estimations, and human error. However, finishing these labs is only the beginning of the process. Even if we are completely accurate in our measurements, we still have post-lab reports. We all know the horrors of lab reports and the endless work it requires. We analyze our data, go over our methods, and make sure everything is reasonable, accurate, and error free.
If we use the scales in science labs the same way we use the scales to weigh arguments, political issues, and morality in life, the lab professor would probably take off his safety goggles, rub his eyes with hydrochloric acid, and drink a beaker of ammonia to remove the vile taste of disgust that he has for his students.
I believe weighing arguments on a scale is one of the hardest skills to learn, especially today where we are bombarded with biased news, political agendas, and the opinions of every single person on earth. It takes double the effort to look at both sides, but only half or even none the satisfaction of being right. No one wants to stay overnight to accurately do a lab report. We would rather copy the answers that our classmates got, without making sure they did it correctly. The only thing we measure when we do this is the classmates grade in the class. If they have an A, then perfect! We don’t think twice about copying their work since we are sure they know the answers. This is exactly what we do for the pressing issues of today. We are lazy with our research and arguments. We don’t want to put in the extra effort, but rather we rely on the answers of people we think are smart. We assume they accurately did the research and are providing us with true facts. We may conclude “scientifically” that If they help us get an A on the first, second, and third report, that they will always dispense the same results. So we stop thinking and weighing the evidences ourselves. We forget how to use these tools given to us and soon they become rusty, old and forgotten.
When this happens, we are at the mercy of the perceived “smart person”. Our senses and faculties become so dulled that we don’t know how to use any of it. When the A lab student figures out what is going on, he might give you answers for a history exam for a chemistry test, but we would be so ignorant of chemistry and so shamelessly in love with his answers that we blindly take them without question. Copying answers or relying on other people for answers do not make us smarter or more skilled. I’ve flunked many classes because I choose to take the easy route and get answers from friends or Google. I may have gotten right answers, but if you ask me to explain my reasoning, I can only give you a bunch of bull shit.
So we have a choice. We either put in the effort to use these tools in our disposal in order to find answers for ourselves and weigh the evidences for both sides. From this we become liberated from the fetters that bind our minds and restrict circulation to our brain. Or we become pawns to the people with power and lose our ability to think for ourselves. Literally pawns! We do the biddings of the people we admire as important or wise to promote their agenda, while living in the fleeting illusion that one day this admiration will allow us to become rooks, knights, bishops or queens, with more ability to move and contribute.