I recently attended an event known as a “Convention of the Mind.”
What’s that, you might ask?
As you might imagine, it’s complicated.
I slipped into a panel session that was entering its Q and A phase. A young lady was sitting at the front of the room and facing the audience.
“All we do is seek truth,” she said.
“How do you go about seeking truth?” I asked.
“Well, a lot of it is education. We don’t believe things mythologically-based. We don’t deny science as we know it. And we don’t follow arguments based on tradition, authority or revelation. We just seek knowledge – rational, logical knowledge.”
After a few more questions from other audience members, the panel concluded. I walked outside into the hallway and entered the room next door. That panel just so happened to be entering its Q and A phase. I was facing an older man sitting at the front with a stack of books on the table.
“All we do is seek redemption,” he said.
“How do you go about seeking redemption?” I asked.
“Well, a lot of it is based around this book but mostly the newer chapters near the end. Most of us here go our whole lives without reading the whole thing. We meet at least once a week to listen to someone tell us not to question tradition, authority or revelation. We just seek faith – baseless, indoctrinated faith.”
After he finished answering my question, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the pamphlet that had the schedule of events and panels listed for the rest of the day. I came across a few people who looked to be around my age, and they were holding a sign that said “The world is a drop of water in a washing machine. Change my mind.” It must have had “What’s that mean?” written all over my face.
“All we do is seek questions,” they said.
“How do you go about seeking questions?” I asked.
“Well, a lot of it is a combination of mass media, science fiction and contradictions in society. Most of us here grew up in an organized religion, but it’s increasingly hard to tell which is the correct one. We wonder about the universe, why it exists and where we’re going. There’s so much arguing, fighting and wars, that we’ve come to distrust and question everything. We just seek doubt – confusing, distorted doubt.”
The last 20 or so minutes, I heard radically different world views. I was glad to be able to appreciate and distinguish each one’s existence, but it all seemed rehearsed. Another string of panels was starting on the second floor hallway. “Meme Creation: How to start Social Media Wars” was my next destination.
“All right, everyone. This is how you start arguments on Facebook. Take this image, this image and that text. Place it here.”
“What next?” I asked.
“Wait for the notifications to blow up. You’ll have them fussing, cussing, throwing shade, blocking and having angry face reactions popping up all over the place.”
There was a lot of heated discussion on free speech, the United States being a Christian nation, stomping on flags and kneeling during the National Anthem. It seemed like most people championed freedom of speech no matter if you agreed with it. Others argued that it was un-Christian and un-American to stomp flags or burn Bibles. Some said that was the beauty of freedom. A few people shrugged their shoulders. I just stood over to the side and video recorded the whole thing in the style of an episode of “The Office.”
The next panel on the list was “Defending What You Believe: Take a Stand.” I was ready to hear bold statements and clever arguments, but it just left a gaping void. I didn’t realize how many people were lost and broken and needed guidance. So many young people in there knew what the church was against but didn’t know what it stood for.
After that panel, I was in a serious mood and needed to continue that streak, so I walked into the panel called “Don’t Watch National News Anymore.” That was up my alley because I quit watching TV a long time ago. I only pay attention to local news because it’s what affects me and my surroundings. There’s too many talking heads on national news TV shows that spew hateful comments at each other and never find solutions. It all looks like a big scare tactic to set the national agenda and tell people not what to think but rather what to think about — a form of control.
With so many panels, discussions and Q and A sessions under my belt, I was ready to call it a day and head back to the hotel room. While on the elevator to the 10th floor, an older lady was standing next to me and asked me how I liked exploring a convention of the mind. I told her it was quite a doozy and that people make things so complicated. As I walked off the elevator with the door closing behind me, she said, “None of this is real. You’ve been asleep for the past 30 years.”