Our current society is rife with criticism. We blame, cajole, and criticize everyone whose opinions we disagree with. It has become the platform for not only social media but virtually every media outlet everywhere today. The more venom we can spread, the more likes, views, subscriptions, and subscribers we attract.
I must admit, I watch with a tinge of amusement the positively charged posts on social media and the endless criticism that normally follows. I believe it has almost become a sport in our country to try to see how much shock value can be generated by a headline or sound bite. What a shame, and what a waste of valuable time.
I am continuing this three-part series I began last week as a result of a sermon I heard from my pastor Matt Tuggle. Last week we discussed compassionate listening. This week, I want to address critical thinking. Make sure you read carefully. I said critical thinking, NOT thinking critically. There is a vast difference.
First, I offer my definition of critical thinking, starting with what I believe everyone’s goal should be in using it. The goal is to arrive at an informed opinion. There are as many ways to arrive at this destination as there are people to get there, however, it is of paramount importance that you go through the proper steps.
Unfortunately, many people take shortcuts. Most of these are accomplished by viewing or listening to only one side of the issue. Typically, the side that they are in agreement with. Many people never take the time to consider the other side of the equation. That’s a shame and it’s also the reason why so many people have become divided over issues in our society.
I won’t attempt to uncover the psychology behind it, however, I am convinced the divisiveness in our society is a result of people settling for the opinion of those they agree with while dismissing, at best, the side they do not. The only way to reverse the negativity and tear down the walls between different factions is to at least consider, and as suggested last week, listen, to opposing viewpoints.
To do this effectively, we must not try to hide from the issues and hope that they will resolve themselves. We must be willing to listen to opposing points of view and consider the intents and motivations behind them. This is not agreeing with or succumbing to different viewpoints. It is being considerate, empathetic, and humble enough to respect people who think and live differently than we do.
All of this can be done with humility and deference while forming and generating an informed opinion. In fact, the reward for this type of due diligence is that you find conviction and further evidence as to why your beliefs are what they are and why they are valuable to you.
Just as last week, this exercise must be done in order to promote unity and healing for all people. It is not the answer but it is a pathway to an answer for many of the issues that are adversely affecting our country today. It requires being comfortable with uncomfortable but the rewards at the end are unmistakable and will promote the unity and peace we are all searching for to ensure the success of our nation for our children and future generations.
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