Today, I’m thinking about thinking and how some people, though educated, aren’t adept at it. C.S. Lewis, in his novel “That Hideous Strength,” spoke of a man, Mark, who was not overly intelligent nor classically educated but he had a “modern” education which was allowing him to move up in the world, to become a man accepted by the narrative of his time. A modern education meant that he followed the pervasive narrative of those highly esteemed in his culture. I believe we have a lot of “Marks” in our world today.
Most people’s thinking (especially as it relates to group mentality) is based on biases, prejudices, inaccurate reasoning and unexamined social rules. If their chosen media outlets tell them a thing is true, they believe it. They don’t examine all sides and they get emotional, maybe even irrationally angry and defensive, when someone questions the narrative they’ve bought into. In other words, “I have my facts given to me by popular people that are socially approved (celebrities, news people, etc.); don’t confuse me by presenting new and conflicting evidence from people I don’t like.” I would say that it’s just a by-product of our time, but a close examination of human history tells me that the majority of human beings throughout history have been this way. Every now and then a Joan or Arc, or a Jesus, or a Ghandi, etc., comes along sees through different eyes, the eyes of true critical thinking (often being ridiculed, even martyred for their differences).
Critical thinking raises important questions, considers alternate answers, avoids overly-simplistic explanations and recognizes the impact one’s actions have on others (even society as a whole). Critical thinking is not prone to “gang” or rather, “group,” mentality.
I read posts and articles and think that humanity is bent toward knee-jerk reactions based on anger, personal biases and emotion. Often, it appears that anyone who thinks critically is immediately labeled as too far left or too far right, too Liberal or too Conservative, too religious or too much of a heretic. It seems like anyone who questions what is popular and pervasive is made to look ridiculous, out-of-touch, stupid, a conspiracy theorist or all of the above.
I actually pray to see things objectively, from all possible angles. It is a goal of mine. If I am provided with evidence from multiple sources that are not all in the same camp, so to speak, and I realize that my internal framework is missing key components, I’ll change my mind and adjust my perception, but if I discover that there is no substantial evidence to repudiate what I believe, if all people can give me are opinions based on the way they want things to be…then, I’m holding on like glue. Here are some things that I’ve thoroughly examined through the years and the conclusions I’ve come to.
I believe that hurting a child, any child, is ALWAYS wrong.
I believe that violence breeds violence.
I believe in preserving life above making money, yet I believe a person should be allowed to make all the money they can so long as they don’t hurt anyone else to do it.
I believe in the pursuit of happiness.
I do not believe all men are created equal. If they were, then everyone would be the same size, color, shape and have the same abilities, but I DO believe in treating all humans fairly. I believe in being fair, and enforced equality is often unfair.
I believe there is never any excuse for breaking in and destroying the businesses, homes and lives of innocent people.
I believe that mistreating an animal is a precursor to mistreating humans.
I believe that being “nice” is a facade but being “kind” is genuine.
I believe that when you take rights away from one group, you lessen the rights and value of every group.
I believe that when your desires, practices or behavior threatens the fundamental human rights of others, then you should be held accountable. (example: If I believe that I have the right to do drugs and drive, but in doing so I cause a car crash that kills a five-year-old child, I should be treated like a murderer because my behavior took an innocent life.)
I believe that the family is the foundation of any society and when you destroy families, you destroy emotional and spiritual foundations that ultimately lead to societal break-downs, and cultural failures.
I believe that when you strip away spirituality in a culture, you end up with a society of self-absorbed, egocentric people who don’t fully see others as humans.
I believe that in order to have stable citizens, you must have actively involved parents and other adults such as uncles, aunts and grandparents in the lives of children.
I believe the most important education a child will ever get is the one their parents set before them.
I’m sure you have your own set of beliefs, too. I hope they are based, not on emotion or on what society has told you is acceptable, but looking at many opposing arguments and true open-mindedness. I think that true critical thinking is as rare as a diamond in a gravel quarry. Many people equate a political view with open-mindedness but politics have nothing to do with critical thinking. However, critical thinking will affect the way we vote, the way we worship, the way we interact in relationships. I’m thinking today that critical thinking is a critical skill and we certainly need more of it.