Imagine being born into the world with no immune system (not far from the truth) having no idea about conventions and how things are but having a curious mind, it starts picking things up.

After learning the language to describe thing, attaching values and priorities become important. Initially, you would not pay attention to what people wear and you would think that it is unimportant what they wear as long as they are not too cold or too warm. After all, you can feel the associated discomfort on your own body, so you can relate.

But now you see a few clothing catalogues, and you see advertising on TV, and you notice that people change the length of their pants and the color of their shirts every wear and you realize that pant length and shirt color must somehow be important. And you notice that people treat each other differently if they look different. Almost like rats would do; maybe you notice that too. And you hear your friends talking about the new shirt they just got and you learn what is important and you start to spread this information to your friends as well.

In school you do your best and you’re learning new things and it is interesting, because you are curious. And you’re probably curious and ask questions, but somehow the grownups get tired of your questions and you learn that it is better not to ask questions if you want to do well. Then your teacher starts assigning homework and the homework consists of endless repetitions of what you have already learned. You notice that homework is not making you smarter, but everybody tells you it is important that you do your homework and if you don’t you will get in trouble. And some of your friends who don’t do their homework do indeed get into trouble.

When you get your first grades, it’s kinda neat, but soon your friends start talking about how important they are and you look up the grade requirements for college and so the grades become important, more important than the homework. And the curiosity was long killed by homework. After all, you were too busy to really ask questions.

And so you go to college and do the same thing all over learning to present the appearance of being learned and educated by getting high grades but effectively just pumping and dumping information back at the gatekeepers. After all, learning is for suckers and nobody earned a living being curious. Meanwhile, you’re living in the dorm and having fun. You have everything you need, a bed too sleep in, food, and fun. You’re “studying” hard, that is to say, you’re actually just memorizing facts without really understanding them because there is no time to think but that is irrelevant on the test anyway. Besides you’re getting rather good at memorizing facts and since you have been doing it for ten years or so already, you’re becoming rather numb to the whole concept of learning.

And so you graduate with a degree and you start making more money than you have ever seen before but having learned little about money, you do the only thing you learned to do. You spend it. After all, that is what your friends do and what you saw your parents do. Very likely, you never saw your parents talk about saving or bills and so you sign up for anything that is thrown at you. Your friends start buying houses and though you feel way to young to own your own house, you feel driven to buy a house even though it’s only been a few years since you lived in a room in the attic at your parents house. But you see these shows on TV with huge apartments and people having fun and hanging out and these people are your age, so somehow this must be the thing to do. And so you go to your banker and he tells you that you should spend 30% of your income on a house even though you do not know quite why it should be 30% and not 10% or 20%. But you trust him because he is an expert authority and you have noticed that obeying authorities is more important than asking questions and thinking.

If you still can, then imagine having no immune system…

Originally posted 2009-11-25 04:32:22.