The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Jonathan Haidt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When picking up this book, I had the distinct impression that I MIGHT be getting into a polemical debate with some sort of bias beginning to scream at Lefts or Rights... but that's the funny thing.
This book argues AGAINST triggers. Against going with your knee-jerk reactions. Against Safetyism.
A culture of safety is NOT the same thing as providing a safe physical environment. It should be obvious, but often is not, that having seatbelts in cars is not the same thing as students shouting down speakers on campus, issuing rape and death threats for people speaking of ANYTHING that they don't agree with, or equating social justice with REAL justice.
Stopping the KKK and lynchings is Justice. Making a school administrator fear for their lives because they misused a pronoun, or turning the misuse of a specific pronoun into something as nasty as actual physical molestation IS NOT JUSTICE.
And yet, people everywhere (and I mean, EVERYWHERE) are getting more and more scared of doxing, public shaming, and anonymous trolling campaigns. It has become an accepted practice to turn anyone of a different ideology into targets of ridicule and slander until both sides have no idea what the hell is going on.
What is truth? What happened to the search for truth ANYWHERE?
They sum up the book in three main points.
1. We've forgotten the adage of "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger." If someone insults you, you ought to ADAPT. If someone betrays you, ADAPT. And yet, increasingly, we're all climbing into our safe ideological niches, surrounding ourselves with ONLY those things we think we can cope with, until nothing else remains except a narrow, narrow worldview.
Open up your minds. Broaden your horizons. You don't have to agree with everyone or even anyone, but the experience WILL enrich you.
2. Following your feelings is often really, really stupid. We have minds and we must always combat our own biases every single day. Remember when you fussed about a food when you were a kid and then you realized, later, that you loved it? If we always did what our feelings said, (especially for those of us who suffer from depression,) then our suicide rates might jump higher than the death rates of cancer. Oh, and let's not forget... following our feelings when surrounded by a bunch of other fearful and angry people has another term associated with it:
MOBS. And we all know that no one is as stupid as all of us together.
3. Oh, and we must always look for fault in others. We're never wrong. It's always someone else that has done this to us. This way of thinking could NEVER backfire, of course. Unfortunately, the first two points described above are exacerbating everyone's mental health issues. And let's face it... we have TONS. Rates of murder and violence and abductions are as low as they were in the 60's and yet everyone is growing up coddled and fearful and crazy. We've lost natural socialization, not only in the physical sense (scheduled playdates versus running around and getting into and out of trouble), but also in the amount of screentime we're ALL getting. Children are maturing much, much slower than at any other time and they're unable to cope with the real world. Hell, most of us are.
We all need to open up our minds to listen as if we're wrong even while we argue passionately as if we're right.
The point is... TRUTH is getting lost in mob mentality. We all need to wake up and get courageous and stand up for our beliefs while simultaneously RETAINING AN OPEN MIND.
Otherwise, unofficially, our vaunted love of free speech is now DEAD.
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