Do you recall the time when you simply gathered together to share your thoughts and exchange ideas? There wasn't any planned agenda or list of discussion points. All that was required was a group of those willing and able to engage in a dialog of thoughtful opinions. Yes, sometimes the discussion got heated and intense, and yes, there were plenty of times when the topics were the mundane, "who's the best, funkiest, prettiest, dumbest, etc..." or the silly, "cartoon characters, Stooges routines, off-color jokes, etc..." but ultimately you left the conversation knowing that your own knowledge base had been enhanced.
And here's a little known fact about those gatherings: all of us weren't friends and we certainly didn't all share the same perspectives. Often these were spontaneous sessions that arose whenever the opportunity presented itself. Sometimes there was a particular topic that we wanted to address but that was more the exception rather than the rule. While we did discuss our own varying degrees of political activism around subjects like on-campus support for minority students or local/state/national elections, we were more likely to engage in talks about the plight of our generation and the future based on what actions we took. Certainly we didn't have any consensus except for one: that we needed to do something other than talk.
Out of those conversations, we not only planned for our futures but we continued to evolve in our thinking as to shape our societal and political insights to this very day. My only regret is that during that time period, the late 70's and early 80's, there wasn't more openness in the Churches to help us reconcile our spiritual beliefs with our secular knowledge. Unfortunately, this is still somewhat problematic but progress is being made in that when today's children ask questions relating the spiritual to the secular, due to the preponderance of information available to them, we adults are required to pay more than lip service to their questions and that often means searching for answers that we had simply taken for granted ourselves.
That, friends, is the core observation at the root of my lamentation. All around us there are people in decision-making capacities who have shunned the critical thought process in favor of simplistic rhetoric. And while there's nothing wrong with simple rhetoric which is a preferable form of communication, there's something dreadfully abhorrent about those who would try to address the complexity of today's challenges with a refusal to entertain a variety of potential solutions as warranted by the fact that new problems can't always be solved by old answers. And, yes, even back in the day, there were those around who practiced the same narrow-minded approach. It was the old, "My great granddaddy said this or that and nothing is going to change my mind!" Even when the fallacy of their argument could be demonstrated on multiple fronts, they'd say, "I don't care!" They were sad then and they're even sadder now but we used to be able to ignore them expecting that that type of thinking would only take them so far.
This world demands critical thinking now more than ever before and yet it appears that those of us who practice said art are slowly descending into the tar pits and not being replaced. The saddest part of it all is that in the absence of critical thought, evil flourishes. When no one challenges convention, those intent on practicing evil gain strength because they are the loudest and the boldest. One reason for their obfuscation actions is the fear of being found out. If required to support their positions with real facts supported by truth, their arguments and indeed their power, both founded on lies, would soon disappear. There's so much more to be said but before another "critical think-asaurus" vanishes into the ether, please take an opportunity to enjoin your children or any children that you interact with to explore the meaning of deeper thought. It's the only hope outside of GOD that this world has, and if you read the Bible, you'll see that when people give themselves over to evil, GOD Has a tendency to get Fed up Himself and Decide that people are no longer worth the trouble...