By Joe Rector
Polls show that more and more Americans believe in the theory that the government is being influenced by “the deep state.” Those same polls show that nearly 3 out of 4 individuals don’t know what “the deep state” actually is. The situation is just another example of citizens surrendering their God-given ability to think. That failure to think can have serious consequences.
Most of us have simply become lazy. Instead of researching a topic through reading and exploration, we allow all sorts of electronic media to do our thinking for us. How many of us are guilty of watching 24-hour news stations and blindly accepting what its commentators, whether liberal or conservative, say? If a person is a Fox Network fan, he isn’t about to listen to a different point of view that airs on CNN. The same holds true for those who choose CNN as their news deliverer.
Social media delivers too many individuals’ news. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all shotgun news bites and ads and links with information we might find interesting. Of late, the discovery that Russians and even some political factions in our own country have corrupted those outlets with misleading stories has come to light. Still, too many people take the bait and swallow made-up lies as gospel.
Even more of us unquestioningly accept information from the Internet. I’ve heard so many times individuals say that something is a fact. When I ask how they know that, folks reply, “It says so on the Internet.” People have assigned the same divine qualities to the Internet that they give to the Bible or the Koran.
The simple truth is that too many of us have grown intellectually lazy. We don’t have the desire to discover for ourselves. Reading isn’t on the top ten list of activities. As children, most of us found great joy and entertainment as we delved into a topic to find as much information as possible. As little ones, we made buttercup flowers from egg cartons and painted them a beautiful yellow to celebrate spring and the coming of Easter. In fourth grade, we students worked in groups to build replicas of the Matterhorn and report on Switzerland and the Alps. In 6th grade, Mr. Fowler instructed all of us to make a scrapbook of the events of John Kennedy’s assassination, which had occurred in the fall of that year. I still have pieces of that project in a drawer somewhere.
The safeguards against foreign intrusions and subversion are continued pursuit of the truth. That comes when people invest in reading and examining information for themselves; they never merely take the word of a third-party source. At the same time, a well-informed person listens to both sides of an argument and finds the salient points from both.
Our country is more polarized each day. Folks buy into the side they like and close their minds to anything the opposition proffers. Such single-mindedness leads to a loss of moderation, and in the end, paralyzes leaders from acting in the best interest of the entire country. The time has come for each of us to reclaim our intellectual curiosity so that we no longer can be blindly lead to believe that only one answer is the right one. We owe this to ourselves and to our children. Otherwise, an authoritarian form of government will take over because of our laziness and lead us far from the democratic principles that Americans love.