America is a country plagued with conflicting beliefs. When a single citizen harbors two or more of these opposing ideas, a discomfort comes on called cognitive dissonance. An immediate example of this phenomenon can be seen at the feet (and atop the head) of the newly elected President Trump: Make America Great Again. The people rallying around this idea are the same people who believe America is the Golden Standard, has no room for improvement. It’s so perfect here that the borders need to be shut to keep it that way. They look down their nose at every other country and foreigner as if they have nothing to offer the rest of the world. Ultimately, the severity of cognitive dissonance benefits only the establishment and its various institutions, and leaves the American population in a state of mental deterioration.

If one were to concede that America is flatlining, that paves the way for another question: why would a population entrust the maintenance, management, and repair of an entire nation to a single cabinet of people? It’s common knowledge that humans are flawed, greedy, and power only further corrupts them, because with power comes interest and control. Aware of these pitfalls, Americans still elect a businessman who embodies such behavior like a corporate Messiah. Cognitive dissonance is displayed election after election, though. People have a desire for an improved quality of life, but no one wants to personally invest themselves in such a change or transition. American citizens know that their politicians are rats, but still believe the only way to have their voices heard is through voting, which is a long-dead pipedream.

The simple truth is that government has never worked. It’s a temporary grasp the rich and powerful have on a country and its culture. It’s a way to secure control of a place and anyone who might live there, and to generate money off of their living. Government is the embodiment of exploitation. “Everything the government owns it has seized from its citizens.” The majority of the issues any nation faces are produced by its government to distract the citizenry from what is important, crucial to the individual, or what its officials have deemed sensitive, confidential. It’s an intellectual shell game that we can’t seem to look away from.

Education is the obvious method of repair, but none of the current models are suitable. People only learn to cut corners and step on one another in public education programs. They’re then passed on to impossibly expensive colleges and universities after being spoon-fed totally useless information, and have more of an interest in passing than they do learning. Americans need to be given the proper thinking tools so they can reason, problem solve, and analyze things for themselves. Effective rhetoric is rarely employed anymore, and philosophy is caught in complete limbo.

The value of having an intelligent population is self-evident: people are more capable of finding solutions and coming to social agreements. People would be more prepared to tackle problems, but even then, what problems are left for a truly enlightened society? The most important transformation a populace can make is an intellectual one, for where else does evolution point? Instead, children have their thoughts handed down to them from ideologies and the establishment. They’re given a thinking template, a rudimentary check list, and instructed to labor within a trade, purchase things deemed important by others, and pay tribute to a system that does not recognize its subjects.

Ideology is perhaps the greatest cognitive shackle the modern thinker falls into. The recipe behind every ideology is simple: take a concept or principle that is precious to a population, and hold it hostage by coupling it with the political or corporate agenda of whoever is designing the ideology. There is no room for free thinking within an ideology because a complete narrative has been put in place: no questions to be asked when all the answers are provided.

The damage inflicted by ideology on society and its government systems is corrosive. People operate under the influences of false and fabricated information, which prevents them from being honest with themselves, totally unwittingly. If people are deceiving themselves in thought and belief, how can anyone expect to have an honest conversation amongst their peers? Perhaps this is the goal of such structured misinformation: keep even the most common of conversations lost within smoke and mirrors.

As stated prior, philosophy is locked in limbo. This could be why ideology has run rampant, unchecked and unquestioned. The axiom of ideology and philosophy is almost perfect: where ideology is rigid and dismissive, philosophy is loose and encouraging. Philosophy is one of the best tools a person can use to weigh the worth and find value within an ideology. If philosophical thought was handed to students as a thinking device, their ability to analyze and problem solve would likely skyrocket. “Philosophy is anathema to the ideologue.”

If philosophy was revived and practiced once again, most misinformation would naturally be dispelled. Philosophy helps a person pull apart the components of any concept, idea, or structure, examine its mechanics individually, and ultimately find the base or driving factor behind the curtain. It helps with critical thought and would bring back the art of rhetoric, something that philosophers and scholars have been swearing by for centuries. Philosophy is grounded in the acts of asking meaningful questions or pursuing meaningful answers (truths). It sheds away deceptive tendencies and avoids cognitive pitfalls. Since Americans (or most any citizenry) have lost interest in such styles of thinking, ideology becomes the standard.

What makes ideology so appealing is that it’s convenient. It’s the fast food of the mind. It might be inconsistent, and sometimes even bad (que the apologists), but it’s so much easier than free thinking, and so the masses subscribe to whichever satisfies their immediate needs and values. Until such forms of deteriorated thought are abandoned, philosophy, and the American populace, will remain in complacent stasis.

By injecting philosophy into American education systems, the public would be killing two birds with one stone. This would serve to begin the repairs on public education programs, effectively combatting the ideological invasion most have been exposed to. Philosophy tends to ignite a passion for thinking, questioning, doubting, and eventually solving the issues that arise from such criticisms. Reviving critical thought (and killing cognitive dissonance) in America begins with its children and what they learn. Philosophy is maybe the most valuable tool for cognitive evaluation- that is, it sifts right through every nugget of nonsense and flake of fallacy. Once a thinker has this tool on their bet (and they should, considering that philosophy is the art of ‘thinking about thinking’), they’re infinitely more prepared to learn anything else.