We, who live in a civilization where mental silence is almost non-existent, regard thinking and busy-mindedness as our principle claim to humanity. We believe that a mind without thoughts would surely be a regression to infancy or a descent to pure animality. But, ironically, our consistent confusion of symbols with reality ends up with plastic people, routed from the maternity ward to the crematorium like battery farmed chickens. For unrelieved thinking turns everything, oneself included, into mere objects. If you begin with the principle that what cannot be classified and symbolized does not exist, you arrive at a destination where only symbols are real, and today we have just about arrived. One does not have to be a philosopher to know when bread is no longer bread and beer is no longer beer, yet most Americans are unaware of the difference. When the swift and systematic destruction of the planet is called progress, we have taken leave of our senses.
– Alan Watts. (1972)