Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thinking About Thinking

I recently began a conversation with a relatively close friend. This friend is great fun and someone that I enjoy spending time with. There have been many wonderful conversations and experiences through the years. But this time there was only the beginning of a conversation. It never got concluded.

There were a group of people involved, but I was a primary participant, at least for awhile. You see, I could not stay in the discussion. I was not excluded, or expelled, but it was clear that my ideas were not welcomed. Although I felt as though my thoughts were reasonable, and my arguments were thoroughly thought out and rational, they were rejected out of hand.

At the risk of being accused of "sour grapes" I have come to a simple conclusion: Some people develop opinions so that they do not have to think for themselves or consider new ideas.

When I recognized this philosophy- or lack of philosophy- in my friend, I knew that there was no point in my continued involvement in the discussion. Although myself, and others, had differing opinions, there was no room for discussion or debate.

This lack of intellectual engagement is the result of several factors.
  • Talk radio gives us the opinions of "experts" so that we do not have to trouble ourselves with the messy work of thinking.
  • Cable news channels show us what is important 24 hours a day. We do not have to think about anything else. We do not need new ideas, we can find them on CNN and Fox.
  • Laziness allows us to accept what we are told. It is much easier to appropriate someone else's thoughts than it is to work on my own.

I know that it is hard, but you and I need to think for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with taking the opinion of someone else into consideration, but use it to make your own choices. Listen to talk radio, but read a newspaper too. Watch Fox News, but temper that with some time listening to NPR. And always be willing to listen and consider the thoughts of others. In fact, I suggest that you regularly listen to and read people with ideas that are different from your own. Get your brain in shape! Work it out!

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