A Little Critical Thinking Will Go A Long Way

by Joseph B. St. John

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. University of Louisville

It is time to evaluate the importance of Critical Thinking. It is not that people don’t think. People think every day. It is the depth to which they think that we will be addressing in this article.

Talking one day to a friend, she brought up a great concept. She said that, as a society, America is breaking into two separate groups of people. One group believes everything that they see and hear from the media. They are either too trusting or just simply believe the media and/or government would never lie to them. They go through their world thinking that everything is going to be fine and that all is well.

The other group is the exact opposite. They believe everything is a lie. No matter how much evidence is presented to them, they refuse to see facts. They know people are lying because their lips are moving. No amount of proof is going to change their minds.

Where the paradox lies is that neither group is right and neither group is wrong. There is some dicey reality that exists in each camp. There are people who are being honest and should be listened to, and other times everything you see in the media or hear at work is a lie. It not just a lie but also a damn lie.

Each person, whether they want to admit it our not is locked into their belief system and it is almost impossible to get out of it. It is an invisible electric fence that surrounds all of our judgments, and it was set into motion on the day you were born. From the cradle to the grave, people are locked into their system.

Every concept a person has of right and wrong or what is moral or immoral is set in motion at the hospital right after their birth. Every notion you have about freedom, democracy, and America is shaped right from the beginning. As you grow up, teachers, media, friends, and the information you absorb twist these ideals. Without knowing it, you are fighting for these principles every day and all the time. Some of these concepts are so ingrained in a person that they have no idea how intimate some of these ideas have become. They have married these principles without even knowing it.

This is where the function of Critical Thinking comes in. Do we take the time to question what we believe? Do we question why we believe what we believe? In the end game, we must. We have to know more than what we believe, we have to know why we believe it. We have to know the fundamental beliefs behind our mindsets.

Democracy is the fundamental principle of the American culture. We have sent our young fighting men and now our fighting women all over the globe to fight for democracy. Many of these warriors have given life and limb to preserve our freedoms and to preserve our democracy. They have given their mind, body, and soul to give people around the globe their democracy. It is that important of a concept.

Unfortunately, many politicians will scream at the top of their lungs that “WE ARE SAVING OUR DEMOCRACY!!!!!” every chance they get. Over the past couple of months, politicians who have not shown an ounce of respect for the U.S. Constitution have shrieked that everything that they don’t like is a threat to our democracy.

Say you have trouble with the way an election was handled, and you will be labeled a threat to our democracy. Pick and support a populist political candidate and you are branded a threat to our democracy. It is happening every day in politics and on mainstream media.

But have we become so locked into the concept of “Democracy” that we don’t even understand what it is.  We won’t even broach the topic that America is a Constitutional Republic. We will address that at another time.

But pretend that an alien landed on our planet and you tried to explain democracy to them. How would this outsider see the process? Would the alien think it was strange and that democracy could turn into mob rule?  That a group of people could manipulate the vote and that one majority could enforce their rules on another group of people. Could the stranger think that was dangerous?  Maybe the not-so-kind interloper would think it was odd that a person who owns a business that employees 100 people and a person who has to be driven to the polling location and told who to vote for because of limited mental capabilities have the same power in a voting community. That might seem alien to the alien.  Who knows?

We need to understand what we believe and why we believe it. We need to be able to state our case in a clear, concise, and legal manner. We need to analyze a situation before moving forward with our old belief system and saying the same old thing. We need to scrutinize everything. Even this article. We need to really understand each issue from every angle. And we need to understand how to protect ourselves in a lawful manner from all the bad information and downright lies told to us every day.

It is time to think and think deeply. Trust what YOU have analyzed. Talk to experts and not quacks. Be prepared to defend yourself with you brain and your critical thinking. It will be a start to making things better in our communities.  We must do it for the future.

Joseph B. St. John
Editor and Publisher of SGC