Sunday, 29 July 2012

Invasion of the Mind Snatchers

I ended the last blog by saying that one’s mental excellence might be enhanced by giving up some of the things one most enjoys.  This seems a perfectly logical thing to conclude, given that the harder one strives for mental excellence the less one finds oneself partaking in those activities that are generally thought to be simplistically ‘enjoyable’.  I was going to list all the ways that give exhibition to this truth – but here is a much less time consuming way to say the same thing.  A somewhat extreme illustration will serve to make the point clearer. 

Suppose a highly advanced alien race informed our planet that we all must strive for the highest mental excellence in the next five years, after which only the top one million figures of mental excellence would survive and be snatched away from earth to enjoy an existence much better than our current existence.  I don’t imagine many of the people would remain obsessed with sport, nor binge drinking, nor watching soaps and reality TV, nor drug taking, nor celebrity worship, nor going to the bookies, nor chasing financial riches in a greedy way, nor involved in gangs or street crime, nor the vanity of being obsessed with how they look.  They would be studying information, pursuing knowledge, learning to enhance their mental acuity, augmenting their capacity for intelligence, and striving to link all this together in the shape of wisdom.

Moreover, understanding that mental excellence is not just about knowledge and intelligence, they would strive for excellence in morality; they would try their hardest to master love, grace, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, understanding, patience, compassion and solicitude. Given this fact, if we believe the height of human potential to be the sorts of things that we have continually raised above the bar throughout human history (things related to the power of the mind that I just described) then it could be said that a lot of our human activity involves selling ourselves short. 

Perhaps, instead of Invasion of the Body Snatchers we should hope for Invasion of the Mind Snatchers!