Thursday, January 27, 2011

Are We Automatons?

Rush Limbaugh said something a few days ago that struck me: We are happy to be automatons.

I looked this unusual word up in the dictionary and it is as follows: au·tom·a·ton   [aw-tom-uh-ton, -tn] –noun, plural - a person or animal that acts in a monotonous, routinemanner, without active intelligence.
Wow! This word is definitely worthy of pondering!

All of us as a culture and a generation have the ability to become automatic of things we are accustomed to in our regular lives. It doesn't matter what generation we exist in, every part of life has "rote functions". We put the toast in the toaster without thinking; we mindlessly button our shirts while going through our to do list; we buckle our seatbelt while starting the ignition; we brush our teeth, pump the gas, and write our name in monotonous, routine manner. These functions along with others have become a part of our DNA and to not do them would cause us to stop our rhythm.  There is nothing wrong with some mindless activities, as long as it doesn't happen all the time and as a regular way of life. 

I think Mr. Limbaugh's point addresses something bigger about our culture. As citizens of a great and free land, we take our generous liberty for granted, forgetting that it has a price tag. Unconsciously we adopt messages spoken to us through media, professors, co-workers we trust and embrace them as truth without considering the other side of the story. And we often 'drink the cool aid' of our respective political parties without logically thinking through the implications of the messages and choices they expound. And because we have removed our mental capacity from these dialogs, we are naturally assuming that those leading us know what's best. And with the absence of critical thinking, oftentimes we are being led down the wrong path. Away from truth. Away from God's very best for us as individuals, as communities and as a nation.

Do we understand our leaders' worldviews (or lens) from which they espouse their views? Do we take a breath to even think there might be another side to the story that we should know before an opinion is formed? Do we believe a sound bite message, ignoring that the real truth might be everything outside of the soundbite? Do we know the intentions of our leaders? Do their philosophies line up with what kind of world we want our children to live in?

Are we operating as intelligent Americans, being good stewards of the gift of freedom God has bestowed on us? Or are we - myself included - being people who simply consume the point of view, message, vision of those we've deemed trustworthy without doing further investigation to validate their points.

I do not think that we need to abandon our trust of every leader, news story or advertising sign and I do not mean to imply that no one is telling the truth. What I do mean, is to challenge both you and me to better use the mind that God gave us. I believe the future of our nation might depend on us giving up the comfort of an automatons lifestyle, pursuing the ability to listen to the Holy Spirit's voice of discernment and being willing to step outside the group-think our country oftentimes resides in.

Perhaps with an inquisitive and critical thinking mind, we can use the same fortitude, creativity, intelligence and wisdom our Founding Fathers utilized to build this country, and help make it great again. May today be the last day that Americans can ever be called automatons again.