Don’t Follow a Person, Follow an Idea

In my daily life I meet a lot of people who are followers or fans of some individual person like the popular prime minister of India Narendra Modi. They say they like them a lot. When I ask them why they like them or for what they like them, most of them have no answers. Many of them will just stand and give me a blank stare. And that is the problem. That blank stare tells me that these people are not thinking about anything related with the person of whom they are fans or followers or, as they say in India, Bhakt (Devotee). They are just mindlessly following them because of one or the other subjective reason. The person who is followed mostly exhibits a cult like personality that can never be questioned by his followers. Taking a cue from religion, such followers are called devotees because just like religion here also questioning their worshiped person (deity) is forbidden.

Such following of any person is dangerous. Why? Let’s see.

Instead of following a person, what is needed to be done is, we must first study and then if agree follow and become fans of right ideas. It doesn’t really matter who is proposing those ideas. By using logic, sound laws of thinking, and scientific method (of investigation) we must check the soundness of any idea first before accepting or following it in our lives. We must check its consequences as well as weigh it against absolute ethical principles. Checking consequences is important because someone’s good intentions are not enough to judge his ideas and actions. As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions! Human brain is capable of weeding out wheat from chafe, i.e., it is capable of distinguishing between right and wrong ideas, but it requires training and discipline which unfortunately no school teaches. If we find an idea to be sound then we  can believe in it and follow it in our lives. If unsound then we discard it. In this process who is proposing these ideas is immaterial. Our focus must be on the idea and its soundness rather than on who said it or blindly following some individual person.

It is dangerous to follow a person because no one is perfect. Even geniuses like Einstein or Ludwig von Mises or Murray Rothbard were wrong about quite a few things. This is the reason why we can’t blindly follow an individual. We can’t worship an individual. Doing so is cult worshipping. And such cult figures do a lot of damage to our human society.

Doing above discussed mental exercise will save humanity from a lot of trouble. Nonthinking is the disease that afflicts our modern world. Hero worshipping is what is dooming all of us. We must stop it.

So let us all make a strong resolve to not follow any individual person, but instead weigh different ideas and then take a well reasoned and principled stand on various issues.

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