4 minutes reading time (899 words)

Saturday Musings - Considered Thought

20200111_considered Thinking, pondering and researching...

I was speaking with a person the other day and encouraged them to start reading. Yes, we all read a huge amount of Twitter, Facebook, news feeds and even blogs but what I suggested they do is pick up a book.

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We spend so much time “catching-up” that many of us forget that reading is more than just about getting the next sound bite. When you read a good book, fiction or non-fiction, you are entering the mind of another person and getting their thoughts on characters, plot or their views on a particular topic. This meeting of minds can have an impact of you by expanding your own horizons or challenging your own perceptions.

At their core, books are a structured set of considered thoughts that have often taken the author a significant chunk of their life to construct. This considered opinion is very different from a Facebook post which is more often than not, just an opinion or at worst an uninformed opinion.

For example, let’s imagine you see a Facebook post on climate change and immediately “like it”. You have effectively shared your opinion on the topic to untold numbers of people around the world, but do you actually understand the issues around climate change?

When I was in high school my English teacher drummed into me the art of critical thinking. Don’t take on face value what is being said, dig into the facts and seek to understand all sides of an issue prior to making up your own mind. Then, once you’ve formed an opinion, hold it lightly as it may be wrong.

I believe the desire to come to grips with real issues has been in steady decline as the world has become highly defensive in their haste to take offence. From experience, too many people react rather than really think. This may seem quite judgmental but ask yourself, when was the last time you argued against your typical position on a real issue to force yourself to view the other side of an argument?

I don’t know very much about American politics but there is one thing I do notice. Democrats seem to decry everything that Donald Trump does, and Republicans return the favor for the opposing candidates. If you are typically in one camp try seeking to understand why the other side is behaving the way they do….you may get some surprises and learn a few things.

This brings me to my final point. The quality of discourse has become so partisan that it’s almost impossible to talk about real issues. For example, the issue of freedom of speech versus the government mandating how people should be referred to in the gender debate is currently a hot topic.

Good luck in trying to seek to understand both sides of this argument. The minute you try to clarify your thoughts you’re either put in the camp of being a bigot or against free speech. How about if you just want to understand the issues while you formulate your own opinion? Where can you go to get a considered opinion on both sides of the argument without the mudslinging that currently tends to occur?

Sure, that may be a contentious issue but how about trying to discuss finances, politics or religion at your friends next BBQ? At some stage some well-meaning loved one will suggest that for the sake of peace you should talk about the weather……but now that’s the result of climate change so maybe even the weather is a hot topic!

I would contend that without verbal conflict we can’t truly begin to get an appreciation about any real issue. If we all agreed with each other all the time, then the world would be a boring place. Worse than this, if we don’t learn how to manage verbal conflict and gain an appreciation for an opposing view then this can breakout into physical conflict and I don’t think anyone honestly wants that.

We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss hot topics as this is the way we can form our own opinions. Seeking a good book that has a conflicting view to your own is healthy as it helps you test whether your current view is correct or not. In fact, a good opposing view may end up confirming that your current view on an issue is the correct one for you.

The other day I decided to watch a discourse by a reputable scientist on how carbon dioxide has nothing to do with climate change. I then followed up by watching a TED talk by a renown physicist on how current renewable energy sources will never solve global energy requirements. Sitting on my bookshelf behind me is “An Inconvenient Truth” – the book by Al Gore that espouses climate change is caused by carbon dioxide.

Why did I watch these? I’m an advocate for managing our beautiful planet responsibly….I sought an opposing view rather than just react every time I saw something I didn’t like being said about climate change.

Reading, critically thinking, open discourse and privately pondering real issues are the foundation blocks of an enlightened society. I would encourage you this weekend to seek to understand an opposing view on a topic you are passionate about.

Have a great weekend!
Michael

Qantas Club and Beyond!
Around the World to NamesCon

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Comments

vanclute on 13 January 2020

In most circles now, critical thinking is no longer allowed. Worse still, it's actually seen as offensive to even suggest it. Thoughtful discourse is rarely even a thing anymore. All that matters is being in line with "the crowd". And I think that's the thing that probably scares me more than anything these days.

In most circles now, critical thinking is no longer allowed. Worse still, it's actually seen as offensive to even suggest it. Thoughtful discourse is rarely even a thing anymore. All that matters is being in line with "the crowd". And I think that's the thing that probably scares me more than anything these days.
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