We Must “Think Again”

I’m very concerned the white middle class in this country will continue to ignore the fundamental injustices of the colonial capitalist economic system. It will be in their self-interest to work on alternatives now since capitalism is collapsing.

We will increasingly experience the collapse of systems taken for granted. Increasing destruction from environmental degradation will overwhelm economic and political systems. What surprised me is the current collapse of the political system not directly related to environmental collapse.

Those things and the COVID pandemic have exposed to white people how fragile these systems are. Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) are not surprised because these systems never worked for them.

For years the white middle class lived in relative comfort. Many felt they could ignore the injustices experienced by those who weren’t like them. But now, millions of the white middle class find themselves facing the same problems BIPOC people always have.

I greatly fear white people will not be able to adapt to these changing circumstances. Will continue to ignore the deep injustices of the capitalist economic system. Will not be able to “rethink and unlearn” as Adam Grant writes below.

When people reflect on what it takes to be mentally fit , the first idea that comes to mind is usually intelligence . The smarter you are , the more complex the problems you can solve — and the faster you can solve them . Intelligence is traditionally viewed as the ability to think and learn . Yet in a turbulent world , there’s another set of cognitive skills that might matter more : the ability to rethink and unlearn .

But recent studies point to a different explanation : it’s not so much changing your answer that improves your score as considering whether you should change it . We don’t just hesitate to rethink our answers . We hesitate at the very idea of rethinking . Take an experiment where hundreds of college students were randomly assigned to learn about the first – instinct fallacy . The speaker taught them about the value of changing their minds and gave them advice about when it made sense to do so . On their next two tests , they still weren’t any more likely to revise their answers . Part of the problem is cognitive laziness . Some psychologists point out that we’re mental misers : we often prefer the ease of hanging on to old views over the difficulty of grappling with new ones . Yet there are also deeper forces behind our resistance to rethinking . Questioning ourselves makes the world more unpredictable . It requires us to admit that the facts may have changed , that what was once right may now be wrong . Reconsidering something we believe deeply can threaten our identities , making it feel as if we’re losing a part of ourselves .

We favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt, and we let our beliefs get brittle long before our bones. We laugh at people who still use Windows 95, yet we still cling to opinions that we formed in 1995. We listen to views that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

My entire life I’ve experienced this unwillingness of people to rethink the transportation system. Refuse to consider the grave environmental destruction created as a result of nearly every family, even every adult in the family, having a personal automobile. I tried to provide an example by not having a car most of my adult life. I don’t think I persuaded a single other person to give up cars.

I appreciate what Adam Grant wrote above about resistance to rethinking. People in recent generations grew up in families that had cars. As they came of age, it was a given they would also need a car. Unfortunately the sprawling way our cities were built require mass transit or personal automobile.

Cities would not have been built that way if not for the ubiquitousness of cars. Those who could afford a car acquired one since mass transit systems often didn’t access where many people lived, and where they worked. There were the inconveniences of the need to plan around the bus schedule.

The impact of the car culture extends well beyond the fossil fuels burned. There are all the materials used to build cars. And the graveyards of discarded cars. There are the vast highway systems. The parking lots and garages. The gas stations and repair shops.

I am deeply disappointed that members of my Quaker faith community chose convenience over care of Mother Earth. The consequences of which we are seeing increasingly now. We are supposed to have a testimony of living simply.

There are moral questions. What right do we have to extract resources at an unsustainable rate? What right do we have to steal resources from others? What right do we have to destroy our children’s futures? What right do we have to assert white supremacy?

In a similar way I’m having trouble getting people to rethink the capitalist economic system. As I’ve been writing, Mutual Aid is the alternative. I hope we can “rethink and unlearn” colonial capitalism. And embrace Mutual Aid. “mutual aid” | Search Results | Quakers, social justice and revolution (jeffkisling.com)


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