I am often told that I must be rational in order to deal with the world around me. For a long time, I believed this. It was not because I particularly understood what rationalization was... but that I was thinking more about something along the lines of common sense.
To rationalize something is not using common sense though. Even the words don't really link together very well. Common sense refers more to something that has always been there. You know something is true because... you just do. It is something we all just figure out. But how is using common sense different than being rational?
Rationality is not all bad, but it does have one rather frightful flaw: It is almost always influenced by the culture. Rational thought can often override common sense for the sake of remaining sane in a world that will look poorly upon you for thinking otherwise. I've had these conflicting feelings before.
In all of us, there is a little voice inside of us that is trying to tell us to think about something unusual, look at something strange, or say something unconventional. But there is a very real rational side of our brains that fights against it. It will tell you that thinking, seeing, or saying certain things are a bad idea. These two sides have very different methods and behaviors in how they act upon us.
Common sense is a bit meek sadly. It tends to plead with its owner that it needs to deal with something in a particular way. It is a nervous sort that is constantly trying to get you to act in your best interest. Most people prefer common sense. It's much easier to get along with and allows us to actually breathe.
The rational mind is nothing like it's rival. It is very much in tune with social norms. It listens too much to what people say and think and worry that it will break social boundaries. It very much wants to know what is real, but it thinks that other people and the surrounding culture may know best. It's approach to convincing you is a bit more violent. It grabs you and shakes you around a lot until you just go with it. The rational mind is rather hard to ignore.
One thing that the rational mind really cannot stand is being ignored. To ignore the rational mind is to be irrational. Most societies consider irrational behavior to be in bad form... perhaps entirely uncivil. The rational mind does not want to be irrational. What would people think? In order to be rational, you must not be irrational. It's a bit of a self-fulfilling aspect, but it's just how it works.
Rationality is unfortunately not very good at identifying truth and facts. It sort of interprets everything through it's own lens, but it works pretty hard regardless. However, in order to see things without rational interpretation, one must be irrational. To be irrational might not be such a bad thing in all cases, but it can get scary.
While trying to exist in an irrational state, people will notice you more. They will lock on to the strange person who does not seem to be conforming to the herd. They will explain to you how things should be done and even how things should be thought, but an irrational person tends to think only in his own way.
Now, for the sake of argument, let's say that something truly remarkable happened in this world. I'm just throwing this out there: A man standing before you with eyes that glow in the dark. Spooky, yes? Now, this could be anything, and I'm not suggesting that a glowing-eyed man even exists. But perhaps, in this example, he claims he has proof of something that is of extreme supernatural importance.
Your rational mind will do everything in its power to explain what you are seeing away as some sort of trick. The effect of the glowing eyes is certainly cool to look at, and you may be impressed by his ability to act out his part. Ultimately, you will likely move on... just in case the man is a loony.
Your common sense is a bit more disturbed. You may find yourself frightened but still intrigued by what you are seeing and hearing. Now, you may still want to move away... or you might investigate further. The point is that this part of your mind is far more open to the idea that what you are seeing may be real. It is also open to the idea that it is fake, while the rational side has entirely thrown it away from the beginning.
Lastly, even as you read through this blog, I am sure both sides will be fighting over one another as it tries to figure out if it is true or not. I can't really help you one way or another. At the end of the day, you have to decide what sort of person you are going to be: a rational person... or an irrational one. For me, I choose the latter.
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