Limit the options and dull the minds


“It’s not easy because your heart is closed off, but yes, you must move into the future.”

Random bits – the bits that piqued my interest and kept me reading anyway – from the sort of New Age book as I finally close it up and move on to something else…

“Arrested personal growth serves industrial ‘growth’. By suppressing the nature dimension of human development (through educational systems, social values, advertising, nature-eclipsing vocations and pastimes, city and suburb design, denatured medical and psychological practices, and other means), industrial growth society engenders an immature citizenry unable to imagine a life beyond consumerism and soul-suppressing jobs.”


“…there are two important questions in life, and it is essential not to get them in the wrong order. The first is “Where am I going?” and the second is “Who will go with me?”


“They have not learned what Alan Watts called ‘the wisdom of insecurity’– that life is a hazardous adventure (which is what makes it interesting and joyous), that an artificially secure life is a dull one, and that significant security is impossible because change is unavoidable, illness and injury are common, and death inevitable.”


“For over one hundred years, mainstream American education has been systematically tuned to produce, on the one hand, blue-collar workers, and soldiers, and on the other, white-collar scientists, technologists, military officer, business managers, and career professionals. The idea has been to ‘keep America strong’, which means more successful than other nations in competing for Earth’s limited resources, on which all human economies are grounded. This has been accomplished in the United States and other Western societies by creating a large workforce of wage slaves and soldiers and a sizable cadre of sharp and ambitious minds capable of managing that workforce and creating technological advances for the mark of military-economic ‘progress’. Consequently, we have a bifurcated educational system successfully designed to limit the options and dull the minds and aspirations of the first group while both sharpening and narrowing the minds of the second. The education emphasis for the professional class is on thinking, but thinking in rather shallow and constricted modes. Independent, critical thinking and any kind of feeling, imagining, and sensing are minimized, marginalized, or discouraged because they are deemed irrelevant or detrimental to industrial development or personal fulfillment. Another reason these innate human capacities are suppressed in Western societies (and must be) is because they easily expose the egocentric idea of ‘progress’ for the self-destructive and world-devastating fantasy that it is.”


“In our society, the late teens and early twenties are often thought of as our one chance in life to sow wild oats. This way of thinking belies an unconscious co-optation of our innate wildness — our true, abiding, and sustainable vitality. Something in us is truly wild and wants to stay that way through our entire life. It is the source of our deepest creativity and freedom. When we say about youth, ‘Let them have their day, their wildness, their fun; soon enough they’ll settle down like we all do,’ we’re betraying the fact that we’ve made our human world too small for soul. We’ve abdicated a critically important part of our human nature.

Even the phrase ‘sow wild oats’ suggests that, like oats, our wildness is doomed to domestication. Egocentric society believes these human oats (and their sowers) are not meant to remain wild. Young people might briefly be allowed their ‘freedom’, but it’s rare that they are encouraged to uncover, celebrate and claim their full wildness for a lifetime.”

All quotes in blocks from Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World by Bill Plotkin, 2008.