Why Many Choose Instead to React
I read somewhere recently that the true purpose of thinking is to understand our world as best as is possible. It is a fact that our minds have evolved over the centuries to think… if we care enough to exercise that important activity in earnest. When I say think, I mean really and seriously think about a matter or matters in a mature, careful, considerate and thoughtful manner.
Need To Engage in Thinking Seriously
Why is it necessary for us to indulge in the act of thinking seriously?
This is because we can then better understand and adapt to our environment. By indulging in the serious act of really thinking, rather than mindlessly reacting to issues, individuals or situations, we are better able to make smarter decisions.
In this manner, we are better able to ‘ survive ‘ and live regardless of whether this is a family situation, an office environment, a neighbourhood association or even in a social club setting.
Biased, Distorted and Uninformed
It is a fact that a lot of our so called low level, what I term as Division 3 thinking is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed and / or downright prejudiced. Just listen to the speeches or utterances of hate mongers throughout the world and you will understand what I am trying to convey.
They shamelessly and recklessly peddle their version of ‘ the truth ‘ badly disguised as information. In this manner, they appeal to those low-level Division 3 individuals who are much too lazy or indifferent to think and evaluate the speech or utterances for themselves.
Politicians Appeal to This Segment
In recent general elections held in Australia, a number of countries in Europe and the United States politicians from the far right and the extreme right were quick to seize the opportunities presented by a biased print and electronic media. Some of these media companies have impressive but hollow tag lines like: ‘The Most Trusted Source of News’.
Many news organisations have chosen to conveniently forget or ignore the basic tenets of professional journalism! A quick check to discover who are the owners of these news organisations will reveal why they have opted to adopt this biased and unprofessional approach.
The fact that these organisations have to broadcast this tag line repeatedly is an indication that many do not trust these bodies to give clear, unbiased news to their viewers / readers. Many of the hate speeches and utterances were repeated with annoying frequency on television as a daily diet for Division 3 thinkers.
And it worked because these individuals voted en masse for such candidates and also on important issues in their respective countries. In addition, because these politicians understood the mentality and the poor thinking skills of Division 3 individuals, they were able to tailor their messages for such lazy thinkers.
Benefits of Critical Thinking
One must understand that the desire by an individual to engage in critical thinking has to be both self–guided and self-disciplined. The onus is thus on the individual to first carry out an honest audit of his current level of thinking skills.
When we engage in critical thinking, we are indulging in reflective and independent thinking. Mobs of lawless individuals running around causing havoc and mayhem are often under the influence of a puppet master.
None of these individuals is able to think for themselves and readily take their cue from the puppet master. When asked the reason why they participated in the protest or demonstration, they appear clueless and stunned.
These then are some of the benefits of critical thinking.
- it improves our ability to better understand logical connections between ideas;
- it assists us to carefully identify, propose and evaluate arguments;
- it assists us to detect inconsistencies in reasoning; and
- finally, it helps us to solve or overcome problems with a degree of confidence.
From my experience, it takes humility, patience, courage and maturity to develop the ability to think and that too, to think critically!
It is important to note that most problem-solving efforts will require one to engage in creative thinking as a natural consequence. The same is also the case for proper planning and decision making.
Some Excellent Examples of Lazy Thinkers
A Company Scenario
A manager walks into the office of his chief executive to discuss a relevant problem or issue. He proceeds to inform his boss of the problem and the resulting implications of not being able to overcome the problem. He then very conveniently passes the buck to his boss and requests him to deal with the matter.
What is wrong here? Has he correctly identified the problem? Has he thought through the problem or issue and has he come up with a proposal(s) to deal with it effectively? Is he now wishing to get his boss’s opinion on the best way forward? It is none of the above.
He is simply much too lazy to engage his brain in this manner. It does not seem to matter to him that he seems to be a manager in name only because he is clearly unable to manage. This is essentially because he is unwilling to think and to think seriously!
A Political Scenario
An individual proposes a line of action to deal with a pressing social issue. This is debated within the party and the issue is given a proper airing. After much discussion and debate, a way forward is proposed. This is then announced to the print and electronic media by way of a press conference.
In an immediate reaction, an individual from another party, who does not agree to this proposal, threatens the other party. He also issues veiled warnings, indulges in intimidation and for good measure delivers a personal insult to the other leader. What is wrong here?
Has the individual concerned sought clarification from the other party? Has the individual proposed to have a meeting or discussion with the other party to get more information, in a civil and decent manner? Has he proposed any counter measures? It is none of the above.
Once again, rather than exercise his brain, this so-called leader chooses to react emotionally instead of thinking rationally. This modus operandi is then followed by other rabble rousers who delight in showing the community and the nation, the might of their puny brains! They are like drug addicts, always with an unquenchable craving for publicity, the more the better and it does not matter that this is often mere cheap publicity.
A Nugget of Wisdom
More than thirty-four years ago, I was chosen to attend a six-month course in Applied Research and Educational Developmental Planning at Innotech in Manila, Philippines. Innotech is one of the South East Asian Ministers of Education Organisation ( SEAMEO ) training facility. There are such training facilities in all ASEAN countries. Malaysia has one for Science and Mathematics ( RECSAM ) in Penang and Singapore has one for English Language ( RELC ).
One day, I went in to see the director of Innotech on a matter of some concern. While waiting for her to look up, I noticed a prominent sign behind her chair and on the wall. It read: Are You Here with the Solution to the Problem or Are You Part of the Problem? It was certainly food for thought.
Many years later when I was heading a professional body in Malaysia, I thought it would be good to have that sign on the wall behind my desk. And whenever someone chose not to think about an issue properly, I was sure to ask him or her to read that sign. It had a sobering effect on the reader and he or she often left my office sheepishly.
So are we all ready to be self-guided and self-disciplined? This is because that is precisely what is called for if we are to seriously and deliberately engage in the art of thinking in earnest. It will also liberate us from the shackles of being manipulated by sinister forces. Finally, being able to really think and see issues in their true light will be an eye opening and mind liberating exercise for many of us.