When Mike Rowe Wonders Aloud We All Win

Welp, Mike Rowe has done it again. He’s gone and had a thought. Then, in a rare and fascinating move, he proceeded to wonder. Then in a spectacular turn of events, he pointed out the obvious and in the process left us all amazed, stupefied, scratching our heads, slack-jawed, and eventually either groaning or cheering. BTW this description of ‘us’ reminds me of Neanderthals, but I digress. Just as he usually does, Mr. Rowe demonstrated an ability to wonder, think and reason – which resulted in him yet again breaking the internet – as his latest post has done over the last day and a half.

Just to recap:

In response to Hampshire College students first burning and then claiming to be triggered by the American Flag, and the university’s President Lash’s decision to remove all U.S. flags from campus, here’s what Mike Rowe wondered:

“I couldn’t help but wonder if President Lash was unaware that billions of people around the world are routinely subjected to horrific levels of racism, misogyny, and bigotry that far exceed any injustice in modern-day America. Furthermore, I was curious to know if President Lash really believed that removing our flag is a better way to assuage the fears of his frightened students, than simply educating them about the undeniable fact that no country on the planet affords its citizens more liberty than this one? Finally, I found myself wondering as to why the President of Hampshire College would allow his students to pay for their tuition with federal dollars – federal dollars provided by the same government whose flag was no longer suitable to fly at his school.”

Rowe then probably spent thirty (maybe forty-five) seconds researching on this thing we all have called ‘the internet’ (otherwise known as all the information in the world at our fingertips twenty four hours a day seven days a week) and came up with some facts based on some stuff he was wondering:

“Here’s the problem. Tuition at Hampshire College is about $60,000 a year. That’s not a problem because it’s expensive – it’s a problem because 85% of Hampshire students qualify for some form of federal financial aid. That means that We the People are enabling schools like Hampshire to sell a liberal arts degree for approximately $250,000. With $1.3 trillion dollars of student debt currently on the books, I found myself thinking how nice it would be to hear a more persuasive argument from those who will happily take money from a country whose flag they despise.”

And because he wondered, we all wondered. Huh… Which just kind of makes me wonder.

Where have all the thinkers gone?

So, we’ve got Mike Rowe, clearly. That’s one. One thinker, 7 and a half billion other people… not sure these odds are in our favor.

For now, at least we’ve got Mike. And what he’s doing, more than anything else, if you’re paying close attention, is reminding us all how to not just take in information, but how to take in information and then to think about it. Process it. To reason. And maybe even to apply some common sense… or perhaps simple logic. Each time he does it I know/hope I’m not the only one who kicks myself and asks why I hadn’t thought to wonder that. Then I always realize why. Because I was busy reacting. I, like all of us (except Mike) I’m afraid, all too often react instead of just wondering.

Regardless, whenever he wonders we all win, not just because of the simple yet profound things he points out, but because in the process he highlights what we’ve become: a lot of listeners, a lot of repeaters, and a lot of reactors but a deficit of thinkers. When the simple correlation which Mr. Rowe drew above isn’t something the other 7 and a half billion of us even thought to wonder, I argue it’s not a good thing. Perhaps more of us could start thinking, wondering, asking questions, connecting dots. Perhaps we should be looking at not just what Mike is saying but how he’s doing this amazing thing called wondering—and how (and why) we’re not.

And, if you really think about it, the most incredible thing about Mike Rowe’s post isn’t the fairly logical message he’s giving us, but the fact that it actually went viral.

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