Auto-Pilot Living

Science has always told us that we use only a small percentage of our brain. It has also informed us that the greater and more powerful capacity of human intelligence is hidden, untapped. And we have always accepted this dictum, auto-pilot living. Many people make a good living out of teaching the rest of us how to be aware, more conscious of this capacity so we can utilize it.

The funny part of life is that we deliberately use so little of our intelligence yet reduce our underutilized power even more by living life more by habit rather than by decision. In other words, the habit part of us has become more dominant than the conscious part. We live life on auto-pilot mode more hours of the day than we even realize. 

Man is truly a creature of habit, quite subservient to emotional and behavioural patterns that largely influence our thinking and feeling. But many of us believe that we are in control of ourselves. We act as though we are aware of what is going on, and that we think intelligently. Yet, the subconscious is already many times more powerful than the conscious and we even surrender much of our conscious to habits we have little control of.

Unfortunately, intelligence is dependent on both adequate information and objectivity. Prejudice is a constant and powerful enemy of intelligence and objectivity. Prejudice kills, not only people but our good sense.

Auto-pilot living is to be dominated by our habits most hours of the day. Auto-pilot living is not necessarily unintelligent. We could have developed good habits along the way. We could have had an environment that was kind, nourishing and supportive of our young curiosity. As children, as young people, our zest for life and the need for adventure made us want to discover and experience. In other words, we were just creating our habits. And, hopefully, we were creating good ones.

The chances, however, are overwhelming that we grow up as objective or as prejudiced as the environment we lived in, as objective or as prejudiced as the people and events who were dominant in our young lives. The attitude of curiosity and the desire for adventure of the young make them open to all sorts of influences, the good and the bad. 

Eventually, habits and prejudices will close the human capacity to curiosity itself. Our prejudices limit the way we understand information and process experience; in other words, the more prejudices we have, the more contained and constrained our thoughts and feelings will be. When we make our world smaller by allowing prejudice to dictate how we think and feel, we lose even more our active intelligence and limit our potential for greater intelligence. 

I have come to believe that we see only what our prejudices allow us to see, and like only what our prejudices allow us to like. The capacity for intelligence is contained, and the capacity for stupidity expands. Basic human needs are platforms for human values, while natural human aspirations are platforms for human virtues. We build communities to serve basic human needs like security, food, shelter and clothing. 

Working together allows us to survive and protect ourselves. And once we attain enough security that assures us security and sustainability, the doors open to human aspirations, to dreams and visions that are powerful motivators for increased human productivity and creativity. All easy to understand, yet difficult to attain. It requires enough intelligence and objectivity to sustain community life, and it requires enough community life for societies to exist and grow. 

And, most demanding of all, it requires enough effective management to administer societal life to serve the common good and move towards common aspirations. In other words, there is a great need for governance, as good a governance possible.

The cause for intelligence and objectivity cannot be understated or undervalued. Our very lives and quality of life depend on them. It is the respect for the needs and aspiration of others as we ask for respect from them for our own needs and aspirations. This is the basis for the common good. Prejudice and partisanship are the worst enemies of the solidarity of communities. 

Prejudice, partisanship, and auto-pilot living. They undermine our capacity to help ourselves survive and grow. They are worse than wild animals or external threats because they make us the wild animals and external threats that weaken and kill us. I thought that the sustained partisanship that has plagued African society needs to soften so our capacity for solidarity can find room to grow. That is why I have tried to be less issue-oriented and more value-based in my recent articles.

Issues are concerns that we can tackle only if we are intelligent and objective enough. Otherwise, they simply feed our divisive patterns and habits. Our society is not perfect, but it can be better. It is the combination of good governance and good citizenship that propels common benefits, the common good. We cannot ask of government what we cannot ask of ourselves, just as the government cannot ask from us what it cannot do for itself.

Many threats beset us. Many of our people languish in poverty, many hungry, many sick, and all afraid they cannot survive indecency. Many of our families are separated, mothers and fathers not able to see their children grow up and enjoy the best years of their lives with them. 

Drugs have penetrated our communities, afflicting both children and adults, a scourge that deserves to be confronted and eliminated. Economic security and freedom remain elusive for many and must be a national focus. We must rebuild our sense of community. Which means we have to take control of our lives again, allowing the auto-pilot mode only for what has been productive and make deliberate decisions to dismantle destructive habits.

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