Listening to someone speak quite passionately about how certain people are a waste of time, and one of the reasons cited was “intellectual bankruptcy.” Got me to thinking: What makes someone a “big thinker”, one of the cognitive elite? What makes someone a “petty thinker”, one of intellectually bankrupt?
Is it someone who cogitates upon Deep Thoughts, searching for the meaning of life, the universe and everything? (42, btw) Is it topic specific? Like philosophers or physicists are automatically Big Thinkers, while fashion gurus and hair dressers are automatically Petty Thinkers?
In my experience, it’s not about the topic of thoughts per se but rather the purpose of the thinker. Is the intention of the philosopher to destroy those around him/her in an effort to feel big/important/smart? Then said philosopher is a Petty Thinker. Does the fashion guru empower those around them to find their confidence through owning their personal style and thus express their best selves? This then is a Grand Thinker. Is it the spiritualist exploring ideas that will help free people from their personal demons and become more balanced individuals? Another Grand Thinker. Is it the makeup artist who uses their craft to belittle and demean with a smile on their face? And here, another Petty Thinker.
If you take the examples I cited, my view boils down to whether or not the thoughts pondered will Empower and Disempower those who are exposed to them. Hurting, scared people metaphorically seek to stand on the corpses of those around them in an effort to feel bigger, stronger, more in control, less scared, important. In other words, they actively work to disempower others and their thoughts are weapons. Empowering is just the opposite – working to make those around them bigger, stronger, more capable, more confident. It takes a strong person to give others a hand up, to genuinely enjoy watching a fellow human stand on their own. To me, petty thinkers seek to make others smaller (hence ‘petty’) and grand thinkers seek to make others bigger (hence ‘grand’).
When you find yourself expounding on your ideas of how the world works and why, do those words empower or disempower those who may be listening?