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Getting Inside The American Head:

Howell Hurst Uncategorized

Americans do not much take to heart the practice of self-examination. You don’t find them often sitting cross-legged in the posture of meditation, allowing their minds to calm them from the habitually frantic pace of acquiring money and things, in order to listen to the thoughts their minds are obsessed with.

Inner reflection is considered feminine by many men, trained since childhood for exhibiting machoism. Diplomatic sensitivity is not nurtured by self-styled gladiators, who thrill to the experience of watching eleven men spend their afternoon bludgeoning one another on a football field, or two men pummeling each other’s heads to pulp in a boxing ring.

The conscious development of knowledge over its opposite, ideological habit, is frowned upon by bare-knuckle-admiring guys or profit-motivated personalities. No intellectual reward quite stands up to putting money in the bank, no matter how much sweat and blood required to earn it. The same amount of effort expended on discovering a truth cannot equal the simple thrills of battle and gain. The most stringent judgment one may place upon good god-fearing American male is to accuse him of being an intellectual, or one who simply likes books.

Ideas and concepts, unless spliced to the goal of financial gain or the feeling of masculine dominance, do not readily take root in the typical male brain. About women regarding this phenomenon, I cannot describe as readily what goes on there, since I am not one of these amazing creatures myself.

I never cease to be astounded by the shallowness of serious contemplation Americans allow to occur when seeking the solution to problems. The initial place one usually looks to is the prevailingly accepted norm of society, when it is clear that the norm itself invariably turns out to be the cause of the problem.

The American mind will plant its head in the sands of habit and established order before taking the chance of inspecting more closely the scaffolding holding together the cohesive planks of a problem. Analysis is not our strong point. Instead, we tend to scour the known accepted historical solutions rather than entering the mental fray of chaos where problems’ real answers live.

We are far more at home with dogma than digging to the bottom of a problem. Burrowing into our misconceptions about an insoluble puzzle is more attractive to us than attempting to untie all of the tangled parts of it. We will go ignorantly to our grave, rather than encourage real intellectual enlightenment. And we damn as a fool anyone who dares to refute this beloved American trait.

People often cast the queerest look out of the corner of their eye at others who protest this trait by favoring a more cerebral peek at problems. Intimidating others down to our own level of ignorance is almost a national pastime. Pretending to knowledge, on the other hand, is a highly admired practice. Some of our most touted accolades are reserved for this dubious achievement.

The biggest dollars are awarded for the ability to grovel someone to their knees by bullying them into a well-established position that time has proved is false and utterly and convincingly inaccurate. We give to such experts the bloody beaks, ears, and tails of many a cock and bull idea they have forced o another through thoroughly illogical argument. We vote for leaders who propose ideas detrimental to our own needs.

Will Rogers, our once famous wit and social commentator, was known for his allegedly having said that, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Now, I do not wish to seriously disparage Mr. Rogers. I like his writing very much. As a boy in school, I was called upon to play him in stage productions. Having read much of his writing, however, I suspect this was far more a savvy public relations ploy on his part rather than a deeply felt conviction. Will was too smart to turn off his audience admitting to less than perfect empathy for his fellow man.

I am confident that Will would have admitted (he actually did so often, but in more diplomatic words) that another famous saying of Americans, “BS walks and money talks,” is patently admired by our nationality. He made particular mention often of the disorganization of Democrats, who at this time were the favored party of people of my home state of Oklahoma, but who have since departed its ranks for allegiance to far right conservative Republicans.

I am also convinced that Will’s innate sense of goodwill and good taste would have dictated he advise every one of us of the benefits of going inside ourselves to reexamine what we believe and admire, before rewarding those aspiring to high office with success in acquiring that distinction. Will was funny, but he was immensely bright. He was a keen intelligence. He had a sharp mind.

He he was not an angry, mean, or shallow man. His humor may have camouflaged the depth of his thinking, but one does not achieve the fame he did without a brilliance of mind that comes only from introspection, the knowledge of one’s self. Few of our politicians have such knowledge. If you want to determine who they might be, you might want to pull up an old rug and sit on it a few minutes a day, and listen to what is rumbling about in your own mind.

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