Thought for the Day- “Sheltered Thinking” – September 15, 2011


Since I have travelled to various parts of the world and have lived in different countries for an extended amount of time, I thought I should write about the topic of being “sheltered” and what it really means. I think to a large extent, being sheltered can only come from ignorance and naivety. However, I am not implying that we should criticize sheltered individuals, all I’m saying is that being sheltered is a combination of ignorance and naivety.

To a large extent, ignorance is manifested by how we cultivate passivity to worldy events and occurances. Passive thinkers haven’t learned to be critical of the stuff that happens around them. It could be a result of apathy or it could be factored by being distracted by our busy lives. From my experience, I find that Sheltered people often act like they know what they’re talking about, or from those I have encountered, they try to mask their ignorance by arguing that what they have read or heard on the news is “actual fact” when really, they have no idea what is really going on.

 I remember talking with someone that was innocently raising funds for a foreign group that was being cracked down by the government becuase of its “cult-like” activities. I won’t mention what group of people they are and what country they came from, but I will say that the person who was raising funds for this group, had no idea what they were really raising funds for. When I lived in that country that had this group, I saw lots of devastation arising from a corrupt leader that had tricked its followers into comitting suicide all in the name of the “cause”. It was in fact a cult that was destroying families and the leader was making money off of it and at the same time didn’t even follow his own precepts and rules!  And yet…here I am facing a Westerner, who really believes that the cult-members are innocent because all they knew was what the newpapers told them since some super-powers do not like this country and would poke at anything to demonize its government with small stories that have shock value.  Unfortunately, many have come to believe that this group was a peaceful religious group that had its followers fall victim to being ostracised by the same government that was cracking down on these criminals. 

When you get only one side of the story, it’s easy to draw conclusions when you believe that what you’re being fed is the truth and that local journalists who go out there to get “you” the consumer the  news are providing you with real time facts since you can’t afford to find it out for yourself. I’m not suggesting that you travel around the world to get a good look around you as to what is going on, but what I am saying is…it’s better to “hear the truth from the horses mouth“. Listen to the stories that come from people who actually live there and don’t treat the natives of the land as liars. It’s amazing how sheltered people can remain in denial of the injustices that plague our societies to this day. It seems to me that some people find it more comforting to think that the worst things are happening somewhere far away from them rather than thinking about the repercussions of how these distant atrocities can affect you close to home. I always say this to anyone and I will say it here as well…”Injustice continues when we close our eyes”.  

I have  discovered overtime that how we see the world and what we know of it are in fact two flip-sides of a coin. In some ways, I feel blessed that through my travels, I have gained a large appreciation for what I currently have in my life. I don’t take what I have right now for granted. While others whine about getting the next cell phone or the fact they hate their job etc etc, REAL people are dying out there and many people don’t know about it. Politicians and other key players want to hide the truth and veil our eyes to the subtle corruptions that are intrinsically intertwined in the fabric of our social institutions. I feel like I am writing an essay on this but let us consider this question…  

 The real question is what drives people to question anything in the first place? I know one thing for sure is that a person with a passive mind rests with their eyes closed and is only awakened when something happens to affect their current world. Must we wait to finally ask “Why is this happening?” to fully appreciate that many things can be avoided if we actively observe and analyze our environment and tune our ears to hear and listen to what our teachers say, our politicians, our law-makers, financial gurus; the intellects, the ones in position of power who affect our lives and everything around it.  In fact,I encourage you to flip through history books to fully appreciate the current status quo.

I have experienced a lot of things that I am sure would probably take a life time for others to appreciate. I now live in Canada but, even so, I still feel like my early childhood from living and moving around from place to place has shaped me to be a very perceptive individual. I was about to use the term “well-rounded”, but I don’t think that is the best term to descibe my perceptiveness. Why? I think that just because I have travelled around the world doesn’t necessarily make you a well-rounded individual.  On the other hand, it does make you more knowledgeable and self-aware that life isn’t quite what is seems and what we read in newspapers isn’t always fact. I have met those that have travelled as much as I have in my life and can assure you that it is possible to experience the world and yet learn absolutely nothing about it despite the priviledge. It is sad to be exposed to what is really going on in the world and remain unaffected by it when you return to your “home”.

I don’t know if  I mentioned this in a different post, but if not I’ll mention that I have lived in Germany during the time when the Berlin wall broke down dividing the east from the west in 1990; I moved to Australia, then Kenya, China, Inner Mongolia (more like a two week visit), England, Zimbabwe (where I come from) and now I live in Canada. Each country I lived in taught me that in a lot of aspects, the Western world takes what they have for granted. When I first came to Canada, I felt very alien in this particular place because I went to school with people who had lived here ALL their lives and knew nothing about the outside world except from what they hear from CNN or whatever news channel they tune into. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, the level of ignorance I encountered in highschool was high in that many students I knew didn’t read the newspaper, including their own local papers. Those that did, at least had some appreciation for current events and sought knowledge about the stuff that was going on around them.

 My Grandfather always told me that you should learn to read  the newspaper but don’t just read it, read it critically and sift through the propaganda. Not all news is news and we must remember that news is written and formulated to fit the ideology of the land you live in. This is not to say that all news articles written are completely based on lies, but you’d have to learn how to discern the truth  of what you read by understanding who’s telling you the story and for what purpose the story serves. I think that Sheltered people have difficulty in discerning what the truth  really is because their knowledge is comprised of what they have been taught all their lives in their own land. Literature provided in schools is often supportive of the ideology that the country wishes to sustain. If we consider that what you are taught is history based on the particular ideology held by the powerful and the elite, you will soon realize that what you know is based on what these people in position of power want you to know”. How to escape this way of thinking? Learn from people who actually live in these foreign lands. Hear their stories, respect their stories and understand that what you currently know may not necessarily line up with a person’s personal account of what they have experienced. Become cognizant of your surroundings or else you’ll be tossed with the tide when bad things start to happen around you.

MY LAST NOTE: Learn to be a critical and observant thinker. Become open-minded and understand that arrogance hinders a person from obtaining wisdom. Also consider that as of right now you know nothing but you can still continue to learn about everything and pursue the truth with all you’ve got.

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