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Robert Sproule

Thought & Action

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Thought & Action

Please be advised that I am not a psychologist, and have not studied psychology;

that Americans and especially Canadians should bear in mind that Americans and

Canadians are brothers, and, by comparison to most of the rest of the cultures on this

planet, we are soul mates; and Canadians in the context of this article means primarily

English Canadian males.

That said, perhaps you have noticed, as some comedians have, that many Canadians and

Americans have very similar opinions of each other on man’s fundamental nature – the fact

that he can think and act. Man also has an emotional capacity, but what he feels is the

product of the thinking he does and the actions he takes. And since man has free will – you

can read on or not – what he thinks or does is a matter of willpower. Man can’t change

what he feels by an act of will, but he can change what he thinks and does, and that will

eventually change what he feels. (A man who has difficulty changing the subject of his

thoughts should…try…thinking…more…slowly.)

In the realm of thought, you may have heard Americans say, “Canadians are the thinkers”

or “I thought I could think until I came to Canada.” And Canadians say, “Americans are not

as intelligent” or “They are not as honest.” That Canadians seem to be more honest is

quite well known to Americans; many think if he is a Canadian he won’t lie to them –

unscrupulous Canadian telemarketers take advantage of this. A lack of respect for honesty

also presents itself in the province of Quebec. And not being honest is just plain stupid.

(There are those, with serious psychological problems, who think honesty is for suckers.)

In the realm of action, you may have heard Americans say, “You know what it’s like

trying to get a Canadian going.” And Canadians say, “Americans are more gung-ho” or

“Canadians are lazy. They will not make the effort to reach their goals.”

Both Americans and Canadians seem to agree on a possible cause of this phenomenon.

Americans will say, “Canadians need to take more pride in their country.” To which,

Canadians will agree. I disagree. Canadians have reached a sufficient depth of pride in their

country. “My country, right or wrong.” is a statement that will have more adherents in

America or Quebec than in English Canada.

Other possible causes may include the American Revolution. Americans

fought – men of action – for their independence. Many that disagreed with the Revolution,

Loyalists, moved north to Canada. Religion may be a contributing factor; both America

and Quebec are more religious than English Canada. Canada’s cradle-to-grave welfare

state may inhibit ambition, but Quebec has the same welfare state and French Canadians

are more outgoing than English Canadians.

Whatever the cause of this phenomenon – that Canadians tend to think more than

Americans and Americans tend to act more than Canadians – it seems to be compounded,

in both countries, in the sexes. As they progress through high school, girls seem to sacrifice

their reason in favour of their interest in boys. Ask any Canadian high-school boy on spring

break in Florida what he thinks of American high-school girls and his answer will invariably

be: “They are incredibly stupid.” And the Canadian male is “harder to get going.”

There is nothing wrong with pride in one’s country or an interest in boys, but one should

not sacrifice one’s reason to either – or to anything else.

It may be argued that nationalism or religion can provide an incentive to act, but a

rational man is self-motivated – he sets a goal and goes for it. So, why is the Canadian male

hard to get going – where is his motivation?

Suppose he thinks he might like to start a business. If he thinks too long range, too far

into the future, envisions too big of a challenge, he might think his goal is too difficult to

achieve, and give up before getting started. He should break up his goal into smaller, more

achievable goals – the success of achieving smaller goals will provide incentive to go on

towards his main goal. But, what if he concludes that his goal is not too difficult, but too

easy?

I think more than a few women can identify with the following scenario: she gets angry

at someone – for good cause or not – and rather than confronting the object of her anger,

she envisions her response: what she will do, how she will get even. She has no intention

of exacting her revenge, but she plans it over and over again (This explains why some

women have such phenomenal memories for such things) until she feels like she’s done it,

and the anger is gone. The Canadian male does the same type of thing – but with a far

more serious subject – he does it with his goals.

Again, suppose he thinks he might start a business. He plans it, thinks about it for

months, envisions it operating, daydreams about it over and over again until he feels like

he has done it, or concludes it’s too easy and gets bored with it, and the desire is gone.

Why does he do this? So he doesn’t have to act.

Ask any successful businessman, which is more important in the creation of a business –

brains or guts. And most will answer, as I would, guts. And there is good reason for this –

the man who goes for it has a crucial ally – reality. Reality will teach him a lesson. He will

soon learn that many of his mistakes could have been avoided. What lesson will reality

teach him? To think.

But the English speaking Canadian male has no such ally. He is free to think on and on –

never testing any of his ideas in the real world. And since his ideas are never tested, he is

free to imagine scenarios far removed from reality – such as starting at the top of a chosen

field – ignoring the value of gaining experience in that field. Many will openly admit that

they do not have the guts – he will freely admit even to that, rather than summon up the

courage to act.

We are not born with courage. The success of achieving smaller goals will also

provide courage. The Canadian male should scale back his goals; pick a smaller, more

achievable goal; summon a little courage, and go for it. With a few successes, he will

gain in strength and discover that a little courage can take him a long way.

It is important to keep in mind that this theory – and it is only a theory – is irrelevant in

one’s judgment of people. There are thinking Americans, thinking high-school girls, and

ambitious Canadians, and one must judge each one individually. And in both countries,

there are those who do both – he is a man of the mind and a man of action.

To sum up with an analogy: in my opinion, many Americans, French speaking

Canadians, and women in Canada and The United States should pull the car over and

give some thought to where they are going, and many English speaking Canadian males

should get it in gear.

Towards Acting On Reason

If a man broke his leg skiing, he would have a doctor set the break, and proceed with the

necessary actions to regain full use of his leg. The fact that he broke his leg skiing would

be irrelevant; he could have broken it in a car accident or falling down the stairs. The actions

necessary to regain full use of his leg would be the same – he would have to rebuild the

strength in his leg. In human psychology, the cause of a particular problem is irrelevant.

Psychoanalysis is not necessary. In fact, it can be harmful – it may provide an excuse for a

man to continue his irrational ways.

A man will need a doctor to set a broken leg. But, fortunately, he can set his own mind.

Even serious psychological problems, such as those suffered by criminals, (It’s in our own

interest to help, if necessary, rehabilitate them) can be overcome with a rational mindset.

If a man believes that aliens have visited earth, he can change his mindset – he can say,

“There are no facts of reality to support this belief. From now on, I will concern myself

with what I know to be the facts of reality. I will accept the fact that reality is an absolute,

and by a process of reason, learn to understand those aspects of reality that affect my life.

I will think – anyone, who has read this far, can think; a sentence is a complete thought – and

guide my actions with a process of reason.” This is a new mindset – I will be reasonable

and act accordingly.

If a man believes he has been abducted by aliens and has had weird surgery performed on

him, he will not be able to change his mindset – it’s a too serious departure from reality –

about this particular delusion. He will, however, be able to apply a rational mindset to those

areas of his life that are more closely tied to reality. With an expanding focus on reason in

ever widening areas of his life, he will eventually see the alien abduction for what it was – a

bad dream – and that will be the end of that. It’s like pouring clean water into a pail of

muddy water – eventually, the water becomes clear. Eventually, he develops a rational

mind – in all areas of his life.

The attempt at a new mindset, the attempt to be more rational, may come with some

apprehension and/or nervousness. This is normal. In fact, a completely rational man should

feel apprehension and/or nervousness on occasion – or he is not trying to do new things –

not taking enough risks. Besides, there is no rush – a man who had been lying in bed for

three months with two broken legs would not expect of himself to get up and run a six-

minute mile. What is important here is the sustained commitment to reason – and acting

upon it. It’s like trying to loose weight – one must focus on one’s eating habits every time

one eats and train the mind to say, “Can I do with a little less butter on my baked potato?”

And then, do with a little less butter. A sustained commitment will result in the loss of

weight – eventually, a lot of weight.

A sustained commitment to reason and acting upon it, eventually, will result in a better

life – a lot better life – more interesting, more rewarding, a greater pride, not in one’s

country, but in oneself.

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