Our thinking, even in the various so-called truth movements, isn’t clear and it certainly isn’t leading us to wisdom. Here’s why, in my view.
People come to question reality and mainstream narratives for many different reasons. The first time most people encounter this impulse is sometime in their teens to mid 20s. They start getting some autonomy, they look around and observe the state of the world, and they rightly conclude this is a bunch of BS.
Their predictable and patterned response to this is to engage in some level of non-conformity. It’s the starter mindset of anyone who encounters the paradoxes and hypocrisies of human civilization.
It’s a clumsy, crude first attempt to respond to the the unthinking conformity they see displayed by their parents and societal institutions. The simple answer, they conclude, is just reject whatever they do, think, or say.
Sociologically, this right of passage is almost necessary for an advanced civilization. If new generations never questioned the old, you’d quickly have a stagnant and eventually a failed civilization.
After a few years of this, many go one of three directions.
- Join the Crowd – This group begins to invest their selfhood in some version of the popular culture, they forget their rebellious ways, and they join what they used to call the unthinking conformist masses.
- Reform the Status Quo – This group begins to recognize that blanket non-conformity is as pointless and really as conformist as the unthinking conformity they rejected. They begin to nuance their rejection and live in a world where they believe, working around the edges, they can improve the status quo by infusing with some different thinking.
- Question Everything – This group sees the system, as it exists, as beyond redemption. They believe there must a fundamental awakening or destruction and a reset to fix things. They believe anything the institutions or the mainstream is pushing is probably related to some agenda – profit, power, etc. – and should be roundly questioned at every step. They view people – the other two groups – as “asleep” or even as “sheep” just buying whatever they’re told. This group is not right or left. It’s not really homogenous at all. It’s an array of people who have been brought to this point of view by a major event that lacks transparency or long-term demonstrable mainstream lie the other two groups refuse to question.
It’s this last group I want to talk about. It’s the group I have mostly fit into for my adult life and really even going back to my childhood. I never quite saw things in the cookie-cutter, us vs. them ways of thinking the mainstream culture tends to push.
However, I believe this group can be divided into two distinct strains. I’ll call the first the Question Everything group and the second the Rejectionist group. So, what’s the difference.
Both groups start from the same place. They both believe that pretty much everything coming from the mainstream is false, tainted, tilted in a way distorts reality and should be summarily questioned.
To me, legitimate science actually falls into the Question Everything group. A good scientist is one that does question everything and puts it to the test before accepting it. Where most science diverges from the rest of this group is in what conclusions are possible. Science wants to stay with the physical, the provable to establish what’s true.
Most other Question Everything types are willing to go to the unconventional, non-physical. Often they are driven my a personal experience or experiences that are unexplainable by conventional means.
The very episode of The X-Files beautifully drew this distinction between Mulder and Sculley at their first meeting.
What both the scientific and non-scientific Question Everything people have in common is they are not necessarily dogmatic in their conclusions. They continue to follow the changes in the facts and they adapt their positions based on those facts.
They don’t leave or lose their Question Everything framework, but they adapt to the changing facts.
The Rejectionist group is somewhat different. They also start from the Question Everything perspective. However, they have largely decided from the start that their questions will lead the conclusion that truly backs this ideology – that anything and everything “THEY” “THE SYSTEM” “THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA” “THE SHEEP” say, think, or do is based on a lie and they are too smart to fall for it.
It’s really kind of a hodgepodge mindset that combines Question Everything with that that juvenile non-conformity stripe. It’s a mindset that feeds on itself. Never, ever trusting anyone or anything is a lonely place to live.
Eventually, even those you hold up as heroes of your cause fall, because the end-game of this path is that no one really knows or understands this stuff like you do. There’s only one way to see these topics and the moment you don’t, you’re in league with “THEM.”
It’s angry. It’s paranoid. It’s fearful. It gives people that big psychological enemy to see as mystically controlling every turn and leading us to disaster.
After 9/11, I teetered in this world off and on for much of the next 10 years. It’s seductive to think that you and your group alone know things that all those other people out there are just too blind to see.
My grounding that kept me from falling in and drowning in was I’d spent previously spent a couple decades studying personal development and spiritual traditions from around the world.
My goal is exposing myself to this information was to glean data I could use to strive for greater enlightenment, freedom, and wisdom. My ultimate goal has always been to help people see how they absolutely are manipulated constantly so they can free themselves and we can create the human civilization we are capable of and deserve.
There came a point, though, where I could not square all the negativity this mindset generates with humanity’s highest aspirations. The mindsets it produces are not really conducive to personal development or the betterment of a civilization.
Now, none of this is to say there aren’t legitimately powerful interests on this planet working towards ends that don’t serve ordinary people. There absolutely are. Some call that a conspiracy theory. The facts are there.
Facts change, but the Rejectionist sees every new fact through the prism of “they’re lying to me” “they’re cheating me.” Therefore, new facts never really change the dynamic.
Question Everything people adjust with the facts. They still usually see a very different set of facts than the two groups above, but they are willing to adapt as new information becomes available. They put everything through their “trust but verify” prism.
You’ll find both these groups in the UFO community, paranormal communities, right and left-wing political communities. They often get caught up niche topics like 9/11 or this current vaccine because they are questioning things most people won’t.
The Question Everything person, especially the non-scientific variety, is wiling to delve into “out there” topics, evaluate the evidence, and reach a conclusion. They still wind up holding many non-mainstream views after that process.
My evaluation and experience long ago concluded UFOs were real. I didn’t need the Pentagon or a scientist to confirm this for me.
The Rejectionist tends to see everything, literally everything, as a ploy a powerful hand to manipulate them.
It’s not surprising that this mistrustful attitude spills over into the way these folks see the world and humanity. You will often easily recognize them because they are the ones who will immediately tell you humanity is crap and that the world is headed for a dumpster fire. What other conclusion could they reach but that one, given their mindset?
My interest in any knowledge mainstream or non-mainstream is to reach some semblance of truth and wisdom that can be used as a foundation to build a better human civilization on this planet and beyond.
That will involve transparency, trust, collaboration, and the belief we are capable of doing that. The Rejectionist cannot get there. They see only pending doom because so many people just won’t see how bad it truly is.
Here’s my challenge to you, if you recognize yourself in the Rejectionist profile I’m describing. Question everything including your belief that nothing good is possible in the future. Question everything including that every word that doesn’t square with this worldview must be from someone who has “sold out” or is uninformed.
Wisdom is about balance. It’s about accepting good information from any source including those you disagree with and rejecting bad information any source including those you like.
It’s one thing to know a lot of things that all those other people out there don’t know, and many Rejectionists definitely. Your decision has to be whether you will transform that knowledge into something that build’s humanity’s future or contributes, through the power of collective minds, to lead it toward destruction?
Wishing anyone reading this peace, joy, and wisdom!