Archive for September, 2012

September 5, 2012

Too Much, Too Little

How does one start with feelings? – To start with feelings and dispositions, they say, constitute the mortal sin against critical thinking. To begin with such emotions is to also say: I am not thinking. So they say.


But can we ever begin without having recourse to emotions? Is there this placeless place where we can be devoid of such human, all too human characteristics? Is there a ground where we can stand up with the logic and reason that we all too often rely on and say, “you are not thinking?”


The past weeks have been exactly this: too much thinking. But what is “too much?” What is “thinking?” Forgive me for raising such naïve questions; questions that may seem unimportant and uncritical, or one could even say, “unthought of.”


But hasn’t been the past weeks been begging for such questions to come to the fore? That we have been thinking too much, and giving thought too little a space to even breathe?


That we are embroiled in this fierce debate for the maternal health of our mothers, for the education of our children, for the values that undermine morality and the so-called “God’s will,” for academic freedom, nay, even the very core of Catholic identity – too much thinking. There is too much clutter for those who are marginalized, too much “reason” and “rationality” and “social responsibility” that bury the marginalized. Too much thinking to what can be thought.


What about those that lie outside the field of our thinking? What about those within the school that opposes, or even just at least the present form, the passage of such bills? What about the people who are tired of the debate, who have thought that there are more important things, more pressing things? What about those who have just given up precisely because they do not have the room to speak up? What about those who have been left at the margins, who stand as statistics and as data for these people “with reason” to use for their own ends?


We rely too much on our thinking. We would like to think that with “pure reason” we could attain what is reasonable. But is what is demanded, in this case, reasonable? To subvert the values of an age-old institution, or to misrepresent the millions who live in destitution, to violate the rights of people to exercise their right to know, to deny the right to healthcare – is this reasonable? Perhaps we have put too much of our confidence on what we can call reason or rationality.


Too little thought. Too little sensitivity for those who are not even inscribed within the debate; too little hospitality to those who think otherwise than them; too little love to those who oppose them – there is just too little of ourselves that we give. We totalize. We cling to ourselves.


Perhaps we need to go back to feelings. Perhaps we need to realize that such feelings can dictate the frames of our thinking, of our reasoning. Perhaps it is required of us to be aware of our dispositions in order to make informed choices. Perhaps we should listen more to what is thoughtful rather than what can be thought.


But why are we even dividing thinking and feeling? Perhaps this is the problem; that there are two realms of “being.” Perhaps there is more to this divide; perhaps there is no divide, or perhaps there are more divides. There is no unity of thought and feeling, or that there is a plurality of thinking and feeling. And these issues have showed us precisely this: there is no more distinction between thinking and feeling because the discourse has been too conflated. Too many speakers, too many feelings, too much thinking, such that what is felt becomes what we think, and what we think becomes what we feel.


Perhaps this is normal, that the human person is more to what we usually use to divide ourselves. That these issues have revealed to us our fragile humanity, the illusion of unity, the hegemony of completion and consensus – what else is there to do?


Too much thinking, too little thought: what else is left to do?


I am afraid of the answer, so much so that I still deny the possibility of such an answer ever arising: nothing. Nothing left here. It is time to look beyond.


Beyond the debate, beyond the polemics, beyond the sarcasm, beyond the hate and animosity, and beyond the divide, what else can be considered thoughtful?


Let us look beyond the issue, for the sake of those whom we do not see. Enough of fighting for abstractions; what about the persons behind the screens of thought and feeling?


Perhaps this is what is thoughtful: what is still not thought about. Let us look beyond the issue. It has strained and stained us for so long.