Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How to Think, Not What to Think

What do YOU think? Self awareness is critical. Are YOU making the choices, or is some deep, old, unconscious pattern inherited from your family or culture making the choices for you? Are you perceiving life in the present, or are you a zombie, sleep walking through a dream of the past, on automatic piolet, destinations set for you by someone outside you? What do YOU think?

To me, knowing what you think and how to think is critical, especially for a successful democracy. ‘Successful’ defined as a majority of citizens contributing to a world that works for everyone. ‘How to think’ means, making choices, reasoning, logic, analytical skills, verifying facts, sorting sloppy, superstitious, wishful thinking from disciplined scientific findings, balancing short term instant gratification and long term fulfilment, and individual and group needs. There are many democracies out there, but very few are successful and contributing to a world that works for everyone.

If I know what I think and I know how to think and I have the goal of being a meaningful part of a successful democracy, I am able to make wise, balanced choices that contribute to my goal of a world that works for everyone.

But if I don’t even know what I think, if I’m constantly reacting to fear and hate without thinking, plus I don’t know how to think, I’m just a zombie being manipulated by those who do think and know how to think. Do you know what you think and how to think, are you contributing to a world that works for everyone, or are you a zombie being manipulated by fear and hate to live a narrow, selfish existence?

And what about our society and educational system? Are we teaching young people what to think or how to think? Are we teaching dogma and traditional orthodoxies disguised as ‘fact’ – what to think, or are we teaching how to think - reasoning, logic, analytical skills, etc? Teaching what to think instead of how to think, binds individuals and society to the past, and as other societies live in the present, improving and growing by taking advantage of current opportunities and challenges, we stay the same and ultimately loose our edge and advantage.

As with everything else, success requires a balance of what to think and how to think. But in case you couldn’t tell, I think we’ve been drifting towards the what to think and need a conscious effort to get back to the how to think.

No comments:

Post a Comment