Cookie Schwaeber-Issan
Cookie Schwaeber-Issan

The key to your freedom is second-level thinking

I grew up during an era where “free love” was a term used to describe the decision to sleep with whomever, whenever but without regard for any lasting commitment or future consequences.  It sounded liberating, and it probably felt that way to some until the long-term consequences of AIDS and STDs became a harsh reality which, tragically, took the lives of many young people during the ’60s and ’70s.

The urgent wake-up call of dealing with the connection between actions and consequences was probably one of the greatest factors which was responsible for many hippies growing up and finally taking responsibility to lead more substantial and cautious lives.

It was, undoubtedly, that very lack of second-level thinking – the need to understand that actions always lead to certain outcomes (for better or worse) – which often took away the freedoms of those who engaged only in first-level thinking – the impulse to act without concern for future results.  During the days of “free love,” the freedoms that were often lost involved one’s health, one’s ability to further engage in sex and, in the worst case scenario, even the loss of life.

Today, we are, sadly, once again, falling into the trap of first-level thinking.  All too many are not taking the needed time and consideration to think through the long-term results of rushed actions which we are constantly being asked to hastily make.  To the extent that circumstances are portrayed as dire and extreme, we are expected to speedily act in accordance with whatever is being decided by a handful of policy-makers who, themselves, clearly have not thoroughly thought through the consequences of their recommended strategies.

Here is a case in point.  Restaurants have been required to not allow admission to unvaccinated diners.  While it may sound reasonable, from a first-level thinking approach, let’s consider the long-term effects.  In the U.S., where a significant percentage of the black population has chosen not to get vaccinated, largely due to historical experimental medical procedures which were nefariously perpetrated on their community, a large number now find themselves disenfranchised from the right to eat in a public restaurant – almost reminiscent of days when, in some states, blacks were not permitted access to many places that whites were allowed to frequent.  These effects are turning out to be so egregious to the African American community, and, clearly, those who have instituted these new “segregation” policies never thought long enough to foresee where this could lead and how it might be perceived.

Here in Israel, and throughout the world, such policies have been responsible for causing an ugly division among our population.  Everything has been reduced to the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.  Who can access and who cannot.  A fear of “being together” has been the sad outcome of a country referred to as “the house of Israel.” But the house is now divided, and, as a great man once said, “A house divided cannot stand.”

Yet, when desperate measures are called for, by those who deem that the situation is desperate, the window of reasonable investigation, fact-gathering and choice-making is only open for a brief moment.  Rather than execute our due diligence in order to make smart and informed decisions, which are suited to the individual’s best interest, we are instructed to “believe the experts,” “follow the science,” and get on board with the thinking that has already been done for you.

This is surely the key to one’s loss of freedoms.  The moment you allow your choices to be diminished, in favor of someone else’s policy for the masses, that is when you have crossed over into the zone of relinquishing your control.

Apparently that was the thinking of Arizona Attorney General, Mark Brnovich who recently filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for what is believed to be unconstitutional federal vaccine mandates.  As he put it, “If the federal government can force you to take this vaccine, what else can they force you to do?”

Such a question can only be the result of second-level thinking.  It would appear that Brnovich, while duly concerned by what he perceives to be an invasive governmental overreach, has peered into the future, understanding that this is actually only their initial step.  The Attorney General seems to be more disturbed by the direction to which such a coerced action could further pave the way in the future.  By wisely understanding that today’s action leads to tomorrow’s consequences, Brnovich is already preparing to challenge what he intuitively sees as efforts that will result in the loss of human rights and freedoms which should not be doled out or taken away by the whims of limited thinkers.

While most of us may not have the platform, means or resources which are at the disposal of a state Attorney General, we do each have the G-d-given ability and individual responsibility to go beyond first-level thinking in order to arrive at the best possible decision which pertains to our health, to maintain what is publicly accessible and what will ultimately protect the continuation of all the rights and privileges which have been ours to enjoy since birth.  In fact, we owe it to ourselves and to each other to think long, hard and critically in order to preserve the blessing of a free society – one which was paid for by the blood of others who fought to keep it that way.

To acquiesce to first-level thinkers, whose policies are meant to be a quick-fix, but often at the expense of those who may choose to resist, is to hold our liberty in contempt and cheapen the meaning of freedom and self-governance, something that every sane nation strives to achieve for their citizens.

Second-level thinking will require time, patience, personal involvement and wise insight.  It will require trusting your instincts, using your common sense, and it will also possibly necessitate going against the tide sometimes, because the tide is not always right.   However, once second-level thinking has been executed to its fullest potential, the satisfaction will come in knowing that you have taken the needed time to comprehensively think through every possible consequence to the actions which you have personally chosen to adopt.  It’s possible that you will have missed a few scenarios, but just by having performed a few mental exercises, you may, in the end, be more than likely to have made the right choice – not only for you but also for the cause of freedom, and if that’s not worth exercising second-level thinking, then I’m not sure what is.

About the Author
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.