Given ongoing events in our shared world, I am taking this opportunity to engage in a mini-rant. Please feel free to disagree as you want.
My comments below are about having positions and beliefs, instead of simply spouting opinions about something.
Opinions are often stated without a sense of any need to defend, justify, or even explain why you have that opinion.
I imagine opinions do fall within the concept of free speech, but they do not represent critical or rational thinking, which I believe should be a part of decision-making in the public forum.
A lack of critical thinking becomes problematic when applied to matters of common interest, social justice, and political or economic action.
SOME THINGS WE MIGHT ALL STOP SAYING:
I CAN’T BELIEVE IT …
Whether you are able to accept something has nothing to do with its inherent truth or reality. Disbelief may be a sign of dismay, but is too often used as a rebuttal instead.
Your ignorance of something does not negate that thing. If you don’t know if something is true or not, take the time to learn and reflect on it.
THAT DOESN’T SEEM RIGHT or I DON’T KNOW IF THAT IS TRUE OR NOT …
If you are saying this as you open Google to do a thorough search or reach for a credible book or article on the issue, you are OK because you are taking action out whether that thing is true or not.
If you are using this as a stand-alone statement to refute something, you are not OK.
Common sense is often anything but. Many things in life do not seem right, but upon inspection and investigation are found true. Many other things seem obvious, but do not turn out as we expect.
THAT’S JUST THE WAY I FEEL …
Nothing wrong with having feelings. However, feelings about a thing are not the same as reasoned positions. I include this because too often, feelings substitute for thoughtful reasoning and support.
Your feelings per se do not NEED support since they are personal to you. Of course, you can explain why you feel a certain way about something, just as we explain our reasons for taking a certain position.
When you base your support for public or communal actions on your feelings, then you are in a different arena. If you would choose a course of action for others which affects them either negatively or positively, you should be able to explain why you have done so, beyond a simple “I feel this way“.
SOME THINGS WE MIGHT ALL START SAYING:
IN MY EXPERIENCE, …
We all bring ourselves to the table, as they say. If you explain your beliefs based on your experience, you are on firmer ground than if you simply insist your beliefs are correct.
Just remember that old saying about how “Your mileage may vary.” Each person’s experiences are unique to them. While your experiences are valid in contributing to your perceptions, expecting others to share your perceptions is not logical … especially when their experiences have been much different from yours.
MY EDUCATION TELLS ME …
We also bring what we have learned to the table. As long as you recognize that your education comes from various specific sources and viewpoints, you can use this to support your beliefs and positions.
I have a degree in Field X and so do you … we may have learned distinctly different things if those degrees are from different institutions in different places at different times.
This is where critical and objective thinking becomes absolutely essential. After all, one of the most important things education should give us is the understanding that we do NOT know all we need to know.
I BELIEVE THIS AND HERE IS WHY I BELIEVE IT …
A similar rant is coming later this week about our tendency to get all excited and emotional about one event while ignoring other similar events happening during the same time frame, along with another tendency to engage in relatively innocuous displays of support or defiance, while avoiding long-term action to actually change things for the better.
… AND YES, I AM GUILTY AS WELL.
I often say those things I am telling you not to say, of not “doing my homework”, of falling in with the crowd mentality around an event, while failing to see the larger and longer picture, and not taking the time to become informed on an issue or situation.
Hence, this post to myself, which I choose to share with you. Feel free to respond and critique, as long as you support your comments:).
Feeling a tad cantankerous these days in the Heartland ….
FYI: If you are unclear about what is spurring my thoughts, Google the words “Paris“, “Kenya“, “Syria“, “Lebanon“, and “Beirut” for starters.