In Ghana, there is something called “over-thinking” which I have not come across before.

It means you have carried your thinking too far and are thinking too deeply about an issue. It suggests there is a point at which thinking should stop and that a little ignorance is a good thing. It says that thinking, like alcohol, should be done in moderation because too much will be harmful.

The acceptable limits of thinking seem to be policed by individuals, perhaps based on a cultural understanding of how far knowledge should proceed. The idea that people should place restrictions on self-development is curious.

The accusation often appears in relation to religion. When people start to think through the implications of religious belief, others tell them to stop. These thought-police, impeded by their own lack of reflection, are unaware that the great religious thinkers of history have often asked the same questions that they are warning their fellow Ghanaians to not consider. Instead they use threats and fear to impede free thought. There is even a repertoire of phrases to justify self-imposed ignorance and to elevate it to a virtue!

The sad thing is, it is usually precisely this point where we needed to be asking questions; where we need to be thinking over the apparent difficulties, even if we cannot find solutions.

The ability for abstract thought seems to be unique to our species. It is what defines our humanity. Some wish to dehumanise us.

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