Selective Memory

By August 5, 2015blog

I think of the quote that has been long “mocked,” yet never lost its message of the N.A.A.C.P. in its promotion of equal rights for African American students as it claims,  “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste.”  So, what does this really mean?

The brilliance of this slogan has been gravely over looked, as it is really an overwhelming phrase of the human attitude and way of thinking that can be applied to so many different levels regarding the power of our minds.  I suggest that this was a clever statement presented to show the disproportionate number of those in the field of education or having access to higher education for black students in our country.  In fact, this state of thought ended up giving way to affirmative action, which gave a legal based demand and pursued the issue of forcing the secondary educational system to enroll the proportion of minorities, who had equal qualifications to that of any other race, the ability to have entrance to the major universities of our country.

Yes, this slogan, agree or disagree, influenced an entire society not quite ready to promote the equality promised by the United States Constitution.  The catchphrase had a strong and lasting impact; yet, the meaning leaves us open to more interpretation that applies to how our own minds make decisions and choices that affect our paths and journeys throughout our lives.

I maintain that a mind is made up of more than the ability to achieve academically, which is more than obvious.  Of course, this is not an opinion, as our minds function objectively with academics and subjectively with emotional behavior.  If we look at the saying, the words have connotations that can pull us further into a meaning that we can use to understand ourselves.  If we take these words in a different light, we can create so much imagery that we can actually apply it to help ourselves build our own self esteem and create goals that will make us “happy campers” in a world where words can be rocks thrown at us much to our dismay.

So, we look at these famous eight words and discuss the images they allow us to envision.  First, the “mind” is more than a “thing” as it is the most important organ within our body, which guides us through the reaction of our entire nervous system connected to the brain.  However, the word “thing” is only a metaphor as the words around it explain its major importance.  As well, the word “terrible” creates many images.  The connotation of this word can create descriptions from just a little mistake that can create a problematic issue to a monsoon that can be highly damaging.  Lastly, the word “waste” also has inferences, both physically and imaginary, which ignites this simple expression.  How much “waste” or lack thereof gives us the power to think with our minds in a clear, logical way?  The word “waste,” probably holds the most in the mystery of how we select what we want to keep at the forefront of our memory banks and what we choose to push away.

All in all, without too much effusive explanation, the slogan meant to make America wake up to the equality of the human mind among races should make us use our own mind power to analyze how terrible it would be if we did not have the ability to allow this organ to “grow” and ingest information to its fullest capacity and explore the mysteries it seeks to investigate the world in which it thrives.

Perhaps, I must explain what the “mind,” the “terrible,” and the “waste” means in reality to most of us.  Using the best description I can, I see the “mind,” from birth to death, as a dry sponge, which begins to get heavier as liquid drips into it in different measures in time.  The liquid is the many different influences, stimuli, and events within our individual worlds that begin to saturate what we call memory, which is the ability to store information just as a computer can.

We become who we are by the task of discerning our external experiences, which involve our five senses.  I maintain that memory is like a sixth sense, as it is what motivates us to move along with our g/d given resources to study what comes into our minds and how it affects the consequences of our well- being.  These become the reasons that allow us to use the “selective memory process,” as we interpret these memories to use for our positive or negative feelings about others and ourselves.  In other words, what have we chosen to remember to justify who we have become and what have we chosen to put into “waste?”  What have we denied ourselves to learn about who we are by facing unpleasant or terrible circumstances that our past has put upon us?  If we do not face them, we will never get a full picture of who we really are.

Questions begin to bubble like boiling water.  Wasting time trying to change who we are is a terrible thing to DO TO OURSELVES.  We are our “mind.”  “The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste!  Yes, this slogan is ingenious and hopefully, it can be applied to looking clearly and honestly into oneself to determine our inner most needs and wants first.  We can now decide to select the memories that best serve us best!


  • Barbara Schwartz says:

    I am an educator, and this is mind boggling. I am going to have my high school students begin to analyze statements that have been memorized and look for deeper meanings. I
    You have explained what is missing in our system of education. Thanks so much for your insight. Barbara

  • Melissa Friedman says:

    Dear Stacey,

    What a surprise to find your blog in my inbox. I so appreciate your insightful and quick, quotes and ideas that many can appreciate!

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