Once a week, I volunteer to serve out food at “Krishna Food,” the karma-free food kiosk at Victoria University in Wellington. Last week, I saw a guy in red shoes walk up to our kiosk. Spontaneously I exclaimed, “Red shoes!” and he replied resignedly, “Yeah, yeah! Red shoes…I felt like buying red shoes, so I got them.” I smiled. It was obvious from his tone that he was no longer excited about his bright red shoes. Maybe he didn’t think it was quite intelligent of him to have bought them in the first place. But I think he consoles himself with the thought that he did what he felt like doing. Whether now it makes sense or not is of hardly any importance.
I recently completed a thesis on trying to understand why people binge drink in New Zealand. I found that most people binge drink simply because they feel like it. They don’t think it wise to binge drink, but because they feel like it, they still do it.
nnumerable times, I have made decisions based on my feelings alone (especially while shopping!) It also seems to be the modus operandi these days. “Just do what you feel like.” So what do we do with our intelligence then? Do we lock it up and throw away the key? That way we would be free to do what we feel like, without having to worry about rationality, logic, objectivity, fairness, and responsibility. We would be free, just like animals. Free to do whatever we want, wherever, whenever, and however.
But wait a minute. If I’m not an animal, why should I act like one? Why should I lock my intelligence away? Without a doubt, our intelligence is much higher and more developed than an animal’s, so we owe it to ourselves to inquire into the purpose of this higher intelligence. Surely our intellect is not meant just for finding elaborate and elite ways of satisfying our necessities of food, shelter, and security. There has to be more to the picture, much more than just randomly buying red shoes or binge drinking. But what is that more?
Now that’s a question that truly deserves your intelligence.