What does it mean to be reasonable? So many people have told me over the years that I am too idealistic and that I need to be reasonable. The funny thing is that most people who suggest that you “be reasonable” are not actually being reasonable themselves.
Reasonable: a) having the faculty of reason; b) possessing sound judgment. (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary)
OK, so in order to be reasonable, you need to have the faculty of reason. What is reason?
Reason: a) the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways;
b) intelligence: proper exercise of the mind; c) sanity. (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary)
A parable: Let us say that you live in an isolated village. There is a well that is the source for the drinking water for the village. For convenience sake, a public toilet was built and the waste was dumped into the well. Out of sight and out of mind. One day, a child says, “We should stop shitting in our drinking water. It makes no sense.” The village people reply, “We can’t move our toilet. It has been there for years. It has worked this way since before you were born. It is too much effort to move it now. Be reasonable. Let’s just stay the course.” Reason says that eventually everyone in the village will die of cholera. Being reasonable would mean moving the toilet. You suspect the child may have a point, but don’t want to upset the village elders or question the common consensus. In the end, everyone, including you, dies of cholera.
Just the other day, I was involved in a conversation about current events. I was expressing the opinion that we human beings need to radically rethink the way we go about living on this planet; that our current economic and political systems are leading us inexorably to self-destruction.
My debating opponent was arguing that I was out of touch with reality and overly pessimistic; that mankind was making huge strides in science and technology and that the problems we have are grossly over-stated and solvable with our current systems.
“Over stated?” I replied. We have polluted our entire ecosystem. Our oceans are full of garbage and turning acidic. Phytoplankton is dying off. Phytoplankton is not only the base of the food chain; it is the primary source of atmospheric oxygen. We pour tons of carbon dioxide and other chemical pollutants into our atmosphere every day. Our food is full of chemicals proven to cause cancers and other disease. Our fresh water lakes, rivers and streams are contaminated. We are experiencing the greatest mass extinction event since the death of the dinosaurs. If we do not change and change now, we humans are also in extreme danger of going extinct. At the very least, we will experience catastrophic collapse. We have to stop doing what we are doing. It is suicidal.
“Be reasonable.” He said. We cannot just stop burning hydrocarbons. Without electricity, society could not function. Without modern transportation, the global economy would collapse. Without modern food production and distribution methods, people will starve. We cannot just stop what we are doing. That would be suicidal.
We went on for a while, neither of us convincing the other of the validity our own perspective. I was left wondering if there was any hope for humanity; if we will just continue on this inertial and entropic path into chaos and oblivion. (entropic: see definition #4)
Back home at my computer, I decided to check in with global consciousness via Wikipedia. I looked up “being reasonable” and found this…
“Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics, and art, and is normally considered to be a definitive characteristic of human nature. The concept of reason is sometimes referred to as rationality and sometimes as discursive reason, in opposition to intuitive reason.”
“Reason or “reasoning” is associated with thinking, cognition, and intellect. Reason, like habit or intuition, is one of the ways by which thinking comes from one idea to a related idea. For example, it is the means by which rational beings understand themselves to think about cause and effect, truth and falsehood, and what is good or bad. It is also closely identified with the ability to self-consciously change beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and institutions, and therefore with the capacity for freedom and self-determination.”
Bingo! Being reasonable is “the ability to self-consciously change beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and institutions, and therefore with the capacity for freedom and self-determination.” So, after “consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information”, we reasonably must change our beliefs and practices.
It is clearly unreasonable to continue doing what we are doing and expect that it will produce different results. If what we are doing is creating an ecological disaster, then it is reasonable that we must stop what we are doing and start doing something else. We must adopt a new set of beliefs and implement a new action plan that will take us down a different path. We must develop a new vision for and of ourselves; and, we need to reconceptualise our place in the world.
First, I believe, we must individually accept responsibility. We must stop relying upon established systems, institutions and power structures to solve our problems.
Second, we must come into personal alignment with what we consider to be sacred. We must admit that we have been acting profanely and commit to acting in such a way that honors the sacred.
In other words, we must become awake, aware and active. Awake to our spiritual natures. Aware of what is really going on. Active in: a) waking other people up; b) empowering others by educating them about what is going on; and c) standing up for transformation. Become the child who is saying, “We should stop shitting in our drinking water. It makes no sense.” Become the adult who says, “We are divine, creative, choice enabled spiritual beings who, when acting in harmony with that which creates, sustains and enlivens the universe, can create, for ourselves, an abundant, compassionate, just and sustainable future.”
We must start a revolution. As individuals, we must stop seeing ourselves as mere creatures caught up in a social system that controls our thoughts and actions. We must each undergo a personal transformation into a conscious creator and powerful force for good; and, then we must, each and all, participate in a collective revolution that replaces outmoded ways of thinking and acting.
The facts: we live on a finite planet and are consuming its resources beyond its capacity to replenish and we must stop defiling our own home; our economic systems are flawed and they must be replaced; our political systems are corrupted and they must completely overhauled; psychopaths run rampant within our power structures and they must be exorcised.
The powers that be work hard to disempower you. You must resist. They work, in so many ways, to disempower you because they are afraid of you. Stand up. Speak out. Join with the growing number of individual human beings around the world who are saying, “Enough. It is time to change things.”
I’m done being reasonable and accepting the status quo. I am going to be reasonable and demand a transformation.