I’ve been terrorized by criminals for as long as I can remember. Those who would seek to rob me of that which is mine. I’ve been a refugee on the run from those seeking to murder the very essence of me. Torture is the only way to adequately describe the treatment that I receive simply for being who I am. I feel it intensely and although I feel alone, I know that there are more out there just like me. I have seen them. I have spoken with them in secret; away from the prying eyes of our attackers. We must live double lives for fear of the relentless berating and mental beatings we will take if we expose ourselves. We walk casually and speak lowly. When our opinions are requested, we nod our heads and smile, repeating the oft-heard words of those who would seek to destroy us if they knew who we truly are.
It is a pained existence, but it is the only existence for the modern-day Thinker.
He who seeks evidence. He who craves proof. He who believes that consistent method, rather than emotion, should determine beliefs. He who scrolls past the two dozen pictures of the same incident for fear of being bombarded by the pain that comes with seeing his peers’ idiocy on full display. He who types 200 words to systematically take down a foolish opinion only to delete every character knowing that they would have been lost to the universe anyway. In our secret chambers, we send messages to one another. Often times the conversations are radically enlightening and insightful. Those are not for your eyes. The conversations that you should know about are the ones which we dread to start but we hold an even deeper fear of never having them. You see, sometimes we ask ourselves if we are the ones who are wrong, foolish, and backwards. Typically, when the latest news story breaks on Wednesday at 3:23pm and by 3:24pm, 3:25pm, or even Tuesday at noon we still have not come to a decisive conclusion, we take that as measured apprehension. We fear being wrong not because of any external embarrassment, but because of the deep intrinsic pain of holding a strong belief only to find it false. We watch for new evidence not with preconceived conclusions ready to cloud it, but with a vigorous curiosity. When we do establish ideas, we reach out and welcome opposing ideas that may tear ours down so that we can build stronger ones. Typically, we can do all this with the comfort of knowing that this is true thought and the way to find solutions to the problems we see around us.
But not today. I can surely say that those days are endangered and I can hesitantly say that they are dead. I realized this sad tragedy not when I saw all those around me succumb to the temptation of early judgment, confirmation bias, groupthink, and other logical fallacies. I could see these from a far and smile knowing that I held myself to a higher standard. Standards are, of course, made to be broken. I realized that we, Thinkers, were being targeted when the most insidious of attacks befell me. It was as if the savage horde of rash conclusion makers had launched a spear that bypassed all of my defenses, lodging itself deep within my cerebrum. As the pointed tip broke through my body, it made this horrendous sound:
“Maybe they’re right. I don’t need proof. I just need to believe.”
My mind’s eye shed a tear that I know without a shadow of a doubt has been shared by men and women like me worldwide. I know this because I’ve had compatriots (I shall not name them for fear of making them targets) that have asked me that question. They have wondered whether it is us who are the problem. That we do not, frivolously and without abundant proof and thought, throw our support behind movements, ideas, and arguments was once a hallmark of our kind. Now it is questioned as our “weakness.” That we would rather THINK about problems than FEEL them was once a part of our ethos; it now makes us “slow.” That we would dare to play the Devil’s Advocate, seeking to ensure the most comprehensive discussion, has now branded us the Devil.
As we are bombarded with more information in an hour than men and women of the 1800s would have witnessed in a lifetime, most choose to feel pressured by it. To us, it seems prudent to scrutinize it deeply. We see 5-10 internet memes each day, why not research the information that they are claiming to use for their conclusion? Instead, they rush to judgement understanding that their calls will have little real impact upon them. Their outward ignorance is proudly advertised on social networks accessible to billions. Yet, they are never attacked for it. Under the rare chance that they are, they have a million comrades in reserve ready to launch salvo after salvo of unmeasured stupidity.
I watch from the sidelines. I have received many an intellectual injury battling with fools. I am no longer a warrior. I can no longer fight as it seems that we are moving into an era where it is actually damaging to question popular opinion. With a simple ponderance, the legion casts you onto what they call “the wrong side of history.” To question one thing is to undyingly believe its opposite and to believe its opposite makes us not a simple intellectual adversary or challenger but evil.
The Thinkers, with our high ideals and minds toward solution, would normally withstand this outward siege, becoming stronger along the way. It seems, however, that the swarm is too great in number and their access to a web of one another spanning the wide world has multiplied their forces. It has driven us down. And now…at our lowest point… we question ourselves for questioning uncertainty. We bake our minds under the intense heat of self-awareness and identity. We now wonder WHO WE ARE if we don’t conform our thoughts to those of the masses.
We used to love that we thought differently, hoping that one day everyone would grow to love the art of thought. Instead, they only love their thoughts, predetermined and unwilling to change. And they love them deeply.
They love them so much that they would want nothing more than to see our people slaughtered in intellectual genocide. They would have us shut our mouths rather than duel us in the arena of thought. They would rather us be warned, fined, jailed, or killed than to even SAY.
So here we stand, beaten and bloodied. An endangered minority with no land to call our own. Hiding in the trenches of personal messages while bloody war is waged on the fields of public statuses. We sneak about in small rooms and have car ride conversations because we know that the microphone and the loudspeaker are tools that only THEY can use.
We hide to maintain our way of life. So we shall stay hidden. But you are not alone.