Archive for January, 2018

Conventional Wisdom

Powerful industries, lobbies, organizational cultures and thought movements can enforce conventional wisdom more than ever before. Media messages and un-thought out soundbites are in the very air we breathe.  Many of us find conventional wisdom suspect, but we are afraid to fly in the face of so much evidence.  Conventional wisdom tells us we should be afraid.  We should be very afraid.

The most simple argument against conventional wisdom is that, in general, conventional things do not work too well.

  • We compete with each other within organizations and wonder why it is difficult to move forward with a single purpose.
  • We eat sugar in moderation and have the highest ever rates of Type 2 Diabetes and dementia.
  • We avoid fat and have the highest ever rates of obesity.
  • We elect politicians who will “win” for our point of view, as if we were in the midst of a civil war and very few of us are represented.

Other bits of conventional wisdom seem fishy, too

  • Employees should be dynamic and passionate to be hired for nearly minimum wage jobs.
  • To be successful, one must be an extrovert
  • Those large islands of plastic waste in the oceans have always been there.
  • People cannot function well over the age of 40.
  • There isn’t enough to go around.


And so, we panic, pursued by fear of scarcity, inadequacy, loneliness, and chronic disease.  Facing an overall power shortage, we barely have the presence of mind to question the lies we are told, much less the energy to move out of this matrix. We’ve done everything we could think of to live a long time, we must have had some reward in mind besides sickness and social devaluation!

Time and time again, through gaps in the matrix, I glimpse an alternate reality.

  • Someone stops competing with small players in business and serves a niche where there is no competition.  He prospers incredibly.
  • Someone else gives up a “necessary” food group and loses 35 pounds while stepping out of the “reality” of type two diabetes.  Her body starts cooperating with her!
  • Another person exits an ageist workplace, pursues a passion in a clever way, and discovers that retirement is now a moot point.  Opportunities abound for her work.
  • Yet another person runs out of steam, says “the hell with it!” and expresses his genuine self, finding a community which suits and supports him.  He no longer twists himself into a pretzel to fit in.

These glimpses never surprise as much as they validate me.  Humans have evolved as social creatures, so competition feels unnatural and stressful while it keeps us from the community we need (yes, need.)  We know that the food pyramid was constructed by post war food manufacturers around the start of the golden age of chronic disease.  We never see animals out in nature dying of stress related illnesses and rarely even from scarcity.

There is, I think, quite a substantial alternate reality where things don’t look grim.  Questioning conventional wisdom is a good practice.  If meditation isn’t working for you, try asking 5 questions each day about conventional wisdom. Here are some to start with.

  • What rules for success has Warren Buffet followed?
  • Why did nature create us in such a way that we will be unhealthy and fat if wedon’t curb our basic natural drives?
  • Is Bill Gates an extrovert?
  • Do the people visiting my doctor look healthy?
  • Are people portrayed in movies representative of the population?… in age?…in looks?…in lifestyle?
  • Why are healthy lifestyle programs only promoted on public television?

If this makes you uncomfortable, forget it.  Everyone knows these are only anomalies and exceptions.  They don’t prove anything.

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