The powerful need to think for ourselves

27/01/2017 at 1:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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There’s a footpath that passes close to where I live. It’s a direct route between local communities. It’s as old as you care to think. In places, it runs adjacent to a busy main road which no doubt is just as ancient in origin.

Go back far enough in time, and the footpath and the road were probably equal partners. Each would have been wide enough for humans and animals to travel along. However, over centuries, one became a busy thoroughfare, and the other remained a quirky, winding path. But they each get you to your destination.

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A society’s collective thinking is very like those routes. It makes sense for us to put things and people into categories – to put ideas into highways of collective thought, as it were.

It’s easier to say “I am Christian/Jewish/Muslim” for example, than it is to think exactly what your personal, unique experience of spirituality might be.

It’s easier to say, “Science is always right” for example, than it is to think about those countless times that scientific research is bent towards the commercial concerns that fund experiments.

And it’s easier to believe that we vote freely than it is to delve into the murky waters of psychometric social media advertising that can suppress or encourage votes for the benefit of a particular party or individual.

Well-trodden highways are practical in many ways. I’d rather use my car when I’m in a hurry than put on my boots and walk the fields. But it absolutely behoves us to think for ourselves – to be willing to walk the less travelled route, at least some of the time. That way, I believe, we are  more likely to be able to look into the hearts and motives of others, and understand for ourselves our own best direction.

An extended version of this post can be found at The Huffington Post.

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3 Comments »

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  1. Thinking for ourselves is so important in todays high tech world – as some people increasingly connect only with others who ‘think/like/buy the same as me’ world of ‘click on like’ etc.

    This can lead to less exposure to others who don’t think the same way, or have different views, which can then lead to the danger of more and more intolerance in society in general as people become polarised in their own ‘groups’, and only acknowledge those who ‘think like they do’ and so are unable to even consider or tolerate a different viewpoint. Deep division is never good for any society – we are one world, one planet – so please, please ……always remember to question and, most importantly, as Suzanne describes so well …… Think For Yourself
    Jennie M

    • That’s an excellent point, Jennie. Although people have more opportunities to learn about almost anything, we can become enclosed in our own little bubble worlds and less tolerant of others as a result. Empathy has to be at least part of the answer: realising that we are all one people, and that diversity is part of any healthy community.

  2. Interesting and multi threaded post.

    It seems there are 3 strands showing up:
    1. The societal group versus the person.
    2. The speed of everyday life and the traverse thereof..
    3. The nature of ‘Truth’ in connection with perception.

    All of these would benefit for lone introspection on a country path walk- where a possibly meandering journey can produce insight out of the reach of science.

    Healthy as well… 🙂


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