I recently found myself listening to a Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying interview where the couple bemoaned that active disagreement and criticism are censured and heavily disincentivized today in certain pockets of society. Though I am inclined to concur with their theory that lack of disagreement and dissent in certain crucial areas of society (academia, medicine, science, in each political hemisphere, etc.) has led to vast occurrences of groupthink, I hesitate to agree that this means that there should be an easier road for disagreement and dissent.
Just because something is the “right” thing to do, or holds more long-term benefits for an individual/society, or is generally healthier for one’s mental, physical, or spiritual state – does not mean it should be easier. To use an analogy, it is easier to be liposucked or have bariatric surgery, than commit oneself to long term diet and exercise – however it is naïve to state that every overweight or obese person, now a majority of the population, should undergo these types or procedures.
There is something to be said for obtaining something or taking action through one’s own hard work, determination, and (perhaps most importantly) under one’s own volition. When Heather spoke about the difficulties of disagreement with the powers that be, I at first reflexively (and ironically) agreed and only came to change my mind more recently after deeper reflection. I believe the genesis of this reflex – to think that all things that should happen ought to be the easy path, is psychological residue from the societal habit now malignant in our country to nudge and incentivize good-behavior.
Our lives to a great extent have come under the influence of expert social architects – who will make their desired traits and actions the easy route and punish other divergent paths. I am brought to our president who “works to make life more uncomfortable” for those American citizens who don’t agree with his policy goals or do not wish to comply with his suggestions. The mental groove is well worn. We have become so conditioned to being nudged in the proper way forward that we feel it is unfair and an injustice that the proper way to move forward deviates slightly from the path of least resistance.
To put it bluntly, and also at the risk of being entirely too simplistic and trite, the medicine to fix this bad habit is courage – the courage to dissent, the courage to not take the easy path, the courage to take one’s life back into their own hands. Perhaps what is needed is a little more of doing things the hard way. If it sounds like I am being too preachy please note that if I am pointing a finger at anyone here it is myself first and foremost.