“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid … Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.”Bertrand Russell
A number of things rush to mind an I probably haven’t time to articulate them all (nor would you want me to I suspect –haha!)… but Russell’s words are ‘food for thought’ — to coin a phrase!… Here then are just some ‘tidbits’ scraped from the plate of my own thoughts and originally forming a response on a well-known social media platform:
I tend to wonder if it is true that ‘men fear thought’… At least either in the respect that it might better be stated that ‘men ought to fear thought’ — in the sense that it is our thoughts (deriving from experiences and consequent ideation) that can either imprison us or free us… many people being caught up in a constrictive and complex web created within our own minds, that we cannot easily break free from unless, and until, we take the higher position of realizing we are, in fact, the observer of our own thoughts and hence have entire control over them and therefore their impact upon us (this premise you might surmise, if already familiar with him, comes from Michael A Singer’s work)… In this instance thoughts are then ‘nothing to fear’ as long as we realize we are the ‘all powerful God’ of our own thoughts are we not only create them, but can also either allow negative thoughts to become an ongoing bane to our existence by ‘holding on to them’ or we can choose to let them to ‘pass through’, leaving us more insightful but also at peace!
On the other hand if by ‘men fear thought’ Russell had particular ‘groups’ of men in mind (and I admit I have not looked up the context of the quote) — then in respect of those ‘men’ who would wish to rule over others… Yes, ‘they’ must surely ‘fear thought’ when it is the ability of informed and educated others to think freely and deem such would be ‘leaders’: Presidents/Kings/Emperors/Chiefs/’Führers’ etc. to be incompetent or wrong and therefore to be toppled or replaced! Which I suppose is why so much efforts now goes into cultivating/manipulating/modifying/controlling ‘thoughts’ likely to occur in the minds of the masses…
In the last century, and in particular since the days of Joseph Goebels and emergence of powerful forms of propaganda… and the only seemingly more ‘benign’ proliferation of ‘Marketing’ through the 50’s and onward… and now in today’s world under the impact of the double-edged sword of social media and so-called ‘social influencers’ /celebrities and other sources of mis-/dis-/ and partial information such as politically partisan mainstream media … it may well be the case that Bertrand Russell’s words ring truer than ever… and that we should all be increasingly fearful both of the thoughts arising in the minds of those who have the power to mandate and impose controls upon the rest of us — as well as in those thoughts that emanate from the minds of the partially and/or erroneously informed who manage to achieve positions/platforms from which they can project their thoughts like an infection to too many ‘unquestioning’ followers!
It is one of my personal philosophical cornerstones that ‘ideas’ may be a more dangerous threat than any microorganism can ever be to the future of humanity… and this has been exacerbated by the fact that ‘social media’ can spread a ‘bad idea’ like a ‘virus that infects the mind’ …unless we all take care to keep our ‘natural mental immunity’ as well supplemented and boosted as we might/should do with respect to our physical immune system in these challenging times!
If you are interested to know how you might ‘boost your mental immune system’ than please feel free to get in touch.