by Leo Cullum
There is an old expression, “think outside of the box,” we now associate with a puzzle.
- Thinking outside the box at Wikipedia and Think outside the box at The Phrase Finder discuss the expression.
- The Original “Thinking Outside the Box” Puzzle! considers the puzzle that has come to be associated with the expression.
Why Do We Think Inside The Box?
Is this box around our thoughts someone else’s fault? Partly perhaps, but who? Who has a motive?
Did Our Parents Teach Us To Think Inside The Box?
Why do we find it difficult to think outside the box? Perhaps it is because from the time our mothers gave each of us birth our parents confined us to a box. Our parents began by placing us in cribs. Latter, we graduated from cribs to playpens. Eventually, our parents allowed us to wander around our nurseries. Still later, our parents trusted us to journey throughout our childproofed homes.
Still more years passed before our parents considered us capable of going anywhere on our own. Yet because they loved us, our parents insisted that we mature, step outside our homes, and into the larger society. So no. We cannot blame our parents.
Do Our Rulers Want Us To Think Inside The Box?
Unfortunately, with “maturity” our existence changes less than we would like to believe. Even when our parents have long been deceased, authority figures still rule the details of our lives. Instead of being an individual, a member of a small community, most of us exist as often nameless subordinates (Don’t we all have a unique number?). Unlike the pioneers of yesteryear, who prided themselves on their Yankee ingenuity, we live in a landscape dominated by government agencies, nonprofit institutions, labor unions, commercial corporations, and so forth. We “report” to agency heads and CEOs we may never meet.
The management of large bureaucracies presents a difficult problem. Human beings, no matter how intelligent and talented, can directly manage only so many other people. That is, even the best managers have a limited span of management control. To make their subordinates easier to manage, our rulers, managers of vast bureaucracies, may seek to make us predictable — therefore, interchangeable. To do that to their own satisfaction, some rulers may seek to confine our thoughts.
Do Our Rulers Confine Our Thoughts?
Instead of promoting individuality, do our rulers want to promote conformity to their dominion? Do our rulers desire to enhance the thoughts that promote conformity? Do our rulers want to discourage the thoughts that deny conformity?
- Why do our rulers promote a single education system, the public school system? Is it to serve their own purposes? Do all children actually need to be taught from exactly the same curriculum? Why would parents want to give up the advantages of competing curricula? Do parents want their little darlings to be just like everyone else’s mediocre little child? Is it parents who want a top-down education system (See DO YOU WANT TO NATIONALIZE OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM? and Schools prepare for national standards (Washington Post).)?
- Why do our rulers promote loyalty to the state over submission to God? Why is it slowly becoming politically incorrect to say the name of the Son of God, Jesus, in public? Do the People want to cease being men and women who love God? Do the People want to stop filtering the commands of their rulers through heart-felt religious beliefs? Do the People worry that when their rulers demand too much — what belongs to God — the People will become intractable because they each believe God’s word? Are those who would rule, instead of serving the People, seeking first to push God aside?
- Why do our rulers promote dependence on great bureaucratic systems? Don’t our rulers, the oligarchs of the modern era, control great these bureaucracies? Is it to the People’s advantage to become ever more dependent upon centralized bureaucratic systems run by the powerful? Do People want to make it ever more difficult to refuse the demands of their rulers? Is that why the vast majority of government spending now goes to finance health, education, and welfare programs (see www.usgovernmentspending.com)? Is that why the People do not even control the dollars they spend for their own healthcare. Is that why even that healthcare spending is controlled by their employers.
What Are Implications Of Thinking Inside The Box?
Is thinking inside the box a problem? Yes, of course it is. Consider what drives us to confine our thoughts. Fear! In fact, our fears define the box which confines our thinking.
- We fear being outside the box of authority. Just as we feared to disobey our parents when we were young, we fear to thwart the desires of the great and powerful. And the more dependent we become upon our rulers, the more afraid we become. Just as we once depended upon our parents for food, clothing and shelter, we increasingly depend upon the favor of our rulers for food, clothing and shelter. Will the day come when we dare not offend the sensibilities of those with power? If it does, then we will know we have returned to slavery.
- We fear being outside the box of conformity. This fear drives identity politics. Identity politics “resolves the problem” created by the simple fact we cannot all be the same. Instead of seeking personal goals, the fearful can validate their “individuality” by conforming with their identity group. Moreover, by combining with other “minorities,” minorities can empower their representatives (our rulers) to demand their “rights” through the instrument of government. Thus, because of our fear being outside the box of conformity, we have upended the definition of the word “rights.” Whereas our “rights” once referred to our God-given right to be left in peace, now our “rights” refer to our “right” to demand privileges from our fellow citizens.
- We fear being outside of the box of the known. We fear to trust our own judgment. Confined to our cubicles, a few square feet on an assembly line, the cab of a truck, a job description in a box,…, we grasp for someone “wise” and “important” to think and speak up for us. Conditioned to be uneasy outside the box the known, we lose confidence in our own voices, and we do not speak up for ourselves. Feeling insignificant, we set aside our obligation to do good and oppose evil.
Continued in PART 2, How Do We Escape The Box?
Side note: For a good laugh, check out Thinking Outside The Box Cartoons and Comics.