Feeling is not the same as thinking

Feeling's the new thinking!

Take a look around: Politicians feel they know what's best for the country. Footy coaches feel aggrieved by a referee's decision. Commentators feel concern for the economy. Parents feel immunisation and fluoride is bad for their children.

Awesome, huh? Why bother with thought, reason or facts when you can just feel the vibe of a situation, Dennis-Denuto-in-The-Castle-style, Your Honour?

You don't have to look far for feelings. One Nation's jettisoned-Queensland candidate Stephanie Banister had plenty when she said during the election campaign she didn't "oppose Islam as a country but I do feel their laws should not be welcome here in Australia".

Why learn anything about the second-largest religion in the world when you can just feel whatever you want? It's so liberating!

In the late 50s, the famed American writer, Gore Vidal, took the American theatre to task for feeling over thought, noting "people now say 'I feel' such-and-such to be true rather than 'I think' such-and-such to be true."

"To make that shift of verb unconsciously is to eschew the mind and to take cover in the cosier, more democratic world of feeling," Vidal wrote.

You can judge a person's thoughts, argue against them or provide evidence in support. Their feelings? How do you know what someone is feeling?

Vidal, taking aim at actors of the 50s, unwittingly sketched the "individual" of today: "They have been taught that 'truth' is everything. And what is 'truth'? Feeling. And what is feeling? Their own secret core [articulated via] a kind of baby talk compounded of analysts' jargon."

Sixty years on, and feeling is now the main game.

Do you feel happy?

Do you feel angry?

Do you feel for the reality TV singer with a disabled second cousin whose backyard will be landscaped by a team of feeling experts, tonight at 7pm?

Thought doesn't enter into the equation, unless it's how you're feeling about thinking or thinking about feeling.

"In our time the expression 'know yourself' has come to mean, 'know how you feel about things'," writes Pastor Graham Long in his new memoir Love Over Hate.

"What passes as the virtue of self-awareness is generally no more than self-absorption, and the word 'sensitive', which once referred to a faculty of meeting others, has come to mean that one is easily offended."

As Long notes, feelings reside in the self and the self, the individual, is now widely worshipped as the very building block of society: "The idea that the basic human unit is a solitary individual is the established orthodoxy of the world. It's an illusion."

There is no such thing a single human person, argues Long: "The fundamental human unit requires the presence of two people (your parents). So the word 'I' is not only the shortest word in the English language but also the most misleading. 'I' should only ever refer to half of something."

In this context it's not surprising feeling has risen to such supremacy for it's all about the individual, it's endlessly validating because what could be more natural, more important than your feelings?

Kim Williams, the vanquished CEO of News (Corporation), got a taste of how feelings haven infected even the cold, hard corporate world. He went to war on feelings in that organisation's newspapers, declaring an end of "the Royal Order of the Tummy Compass", to be replaced by data, research, facts.

Wonder how he's feeling now he's unemployed?

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