I have decided, ironically after much thought, that the problem with “western” society (by which i really mean North America) is that we think too much.
I know this sounds counter-intuitive. Americans have been accused of not being aware of anything outside their borders, and some of my experiences in the US certainly support that idea. But seriously, there are a lot of Americans I have met that are indistinguishable from Canadians in their liberalism, anti-Americanism and world view.
But I’m not talking about all that stuff. I’m talking about thinking too much. We over-think and over-analyze everything. We agonize over what to have to for breakfast. We contemplate whether to wear the green trousers or the blue as if it were important. We ponder the mysteries of our friends’ lives and develop complex solutions to their problems. We think and we think and we think and we think.
And not a damn lick of it makes us any happier.
So I propose we stop thinking quite so much. We should start living more in the moment, instead of constantly seeking to apply the past to the future. Relax. Enjoy life. Go for a bike ride. Pick up a guitar. Something.
99% of the crap we fill our minds with is just making us feel bad anyway. Maybe once we get all the garbage out of our minds we can start thinking about the things that really matter.
I don’t know that I’d say we think too much, but I would agree that we tend to think too much about unimportant things. All the thoughts that you mention are thoughts that I agree people can spend too much time on.
But on issues of life, fairness, justice, religion, etc, I think—as you suggest—we’re prone to thinking far too little. We tend to leave what’s really important in life and in society to others, while thinking endlessly about things that don’t matter.
So I don’t think we should think less, but we should think more constructively. We should stop worrying about life and enjoy it. But we should think as much as we ever have, maybe more, about—as you say—“the things that really matter.”
I imagine it might not be the quantity of thinking done, but, at some point, it’s quality. That’s kind of an easy notion, though, I admit; and there’s nothing wrong with thinking both more and more soundly. Maybe, also, I’m just redefining the terms a little, and saying what’s already been said.
But people can still spend a lot of time pondering “the things that matter” and do so really poorly. Maybe they’ll luck onto some kind of critical level of thinking traffic, where it collapses on itself and becomes both denser and more illuminating. I doubt it, though; they’ll just go on thinking really hard about why they’re saved, why everyone should be saved, and what they’re going to do in their idyllic eternity. That’s kind of a cheap shot, but I’m a little lazy right now.