#thepersonalside: Independent Thinking

#thepersonalside: Independent Thinking

Dan Antion, the owner of the blog, No Facilities, asked a question a little over a month ago that I would like to explore in my own perspective. What Happened to Our Independence? He was not talking so much about the U.S. as a nation as he was addressing the general attitude of so many people who live in this country.

Way back, probably before a number of you were born, independent thinking was the “cool” way to be. To give you a frame of reference, I am talking about the 1960s. Sure, most people were trying to fit in and there certainly was the influence of illegal drugs. However, even those of us who were not alienating our parents and dabbling in the psychedelic were questioning all sorts of topics that were in the news and schools. It was a time of self-ruling intellectual growth that, as of late, has gone by the wayside somehow.

I am ashamed to say I got into following one of the flocks just like so many others. Following a flock made me fearful of whatever I was not familiar with, which, looking back, was ludicrous. Maybe that unknown perception was a good thing that I had become blind to, all because I would not delve into it all because of suspicions I had collected from others.

It was only two months ago when I started reading news articles again after several years of ignoring what was going on in the world around me. Until that time, I hid out in a cave of impassivity, believing my thoughts and feelings, along with so many others, did not mean anything to the powers that be. I had closed my eyes and my ears to notions that might be helpful as well as the ones I needed to be aware of for personal safety. I was so far from being an independent thinker as one could get. Well, as far as I had ever been anyway.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, I had prided myself on being a ‘rebel’ thinker. I was the one in class who asked the annoying questions that got the teacher hot under the collar. I was beginning to wonder where that person vanished to.

It was the end of last May when I came across a site that aroused the questions once again, Pocket. Its primary use is for saving web pages to view later but the owner(s) on the site also send emails to their subscribers full of suggested articles to save for reading later. It has given me a variety of sites and pages to explore. It has gotten me started on skipping down the path of knowledge again.

When I ponder on the concept of independent thinking, what comes to mind is having keen observational skills encompassing the entire realm of the senses and keep the mouth closed. Sure, questions are needed but does that really have to involve speaking? As far as answering questions, I believe they should be found on one’s own. Speaking is not necessary.

In today’s world, there are so many ways to communicate and very few of them encourage people to think for themselves. Society, as a whole, does not seem to question the answers they receive and, instead, presume the person who is answering knows all there is about the particular subject.

We have become sheep willing to follow anyone who has an answer, whether it be right or wrong, just as long as we do not have to think for ourselves.

§

Did Rome fall because of this type of mentality?

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20 Replies to “#thepersonalside: Independent Thinking”

  1. The part about people thinking for themselves is an intriguing thought, and it makes me wonder do most of us think for ourselves, or if we think how we should be thinking. Also it’s one thing to think for ourselves but another to do something for ourselves as opposed to doing something that will please everyone generally – and going along with what everyone else is doing. Some may call this behaviour easy-going but on the other hand, as you touched upon, it can be sometimes so routine.

    Personally I feel I think best when I am on my own, with no one around me to tell me what to say, or distract me from my own mind. I feel that very liberating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mable, like you, I think better when I am left alone to figure out a problem. When I am in this mode when someone else is around, I am torn between “going with the flow” and being obstinant when all I want to do is make up my own mind about the issue. Either way, I go, I do not think I am being an independent thinker.

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  2. “…so many ways to communicate and very few of them encourage people to think for themselves.”

    Thanks for the shout-out. I am very happy to read this post. I love that observation you made. I think that’s the trap. People read, so they feel “informed” but it depends on what you read. If you’re just reading someone else’s opinion, as you say “a presumed expert,” you may not be informed.

    I also identified with your comment about trying to fit in in the 60s. I think that was what encouraged me to start writing. I wanted a way to capture my thoughts as opposed to the group I ran with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found that during the 60s, I could express myself more openly without being mocked. My questions were taken seriously, which happens rarely anymore.

      You mentioned how reading an article may not be giving you a sense of the truth. As a writer, I am finding it more difficult to write what is in my gut rather than what I consider most people want to read. After all, I do want people to read my work. Yet, when I write was I believe people want to see and read it back to myself, it reads as bogus. It takes me a few moments to get past the dilemma.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have always shunned the “better blogger” advice of playing to the audience. I think that leaves you stuck between guard rails. Unless you feel strongly and want to focus on a short list of topics. I prefer well-written content, even if I don’t agree with it. If it makes me think, I like it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I knew I was through the looking glass when college students were asked why Conservative speakers (as incendiary as liberal speakers in the 60s) should not be allowed on campuses, their answer was that freedom of speech was dangerous, divisive.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Glynis, I’m about 6 – 7 years older than you, but we are still about the same generation. I’ve always tried to be an independent thinker, sometimes at my peril. The late 60’s and early 70’s gave me a chance to find a voice that was not my parents’, and anoopoortunity to read articles and documents they would have found subversive. But I also think we are all part of our times – certain social or civil actions are connected to our moment in history and we find ourselves on one side or another. So while I was very much against the Vietnam War for many reasons, and actively protested it and campaigned against it, I married a Vietnam vet. I’m also a skeptic by nature and I trust pretty much no one, so everything I read, I throw salt over it first. At least I read, and so do you. I don’t write my blog or my stories to suit any viewpoint but my own, but I try to tailor my blog toward a focus on writing, even when the posts are personal history. Some of the things I write in my stories concern situations others might find questionable to include – I consider them essential to the climate of my story. Those who are offended can find something else to read – there is lots out there. You posed thoughts worthy of serious reflection – I read your post twice.

    May I ask if the fuzzy photo is of you, perhaps when younger? You are beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shari, the fuzzy picture is not me. I do not even know the woman. Still, one of the reasons I picked that photo to play with in my PaintShop Pro was she looks like some of the women I would see in daily life from my original stomping grounds out in the west. I imagine she is Latin, which I am not.

      I will do you one better. I went to rallies and demonstrations protesting the Vietnamese War back in the late 60s and early 70s, yet I married a man who was active duty when we met and I spent two years at a base in the Mediterranean. 😛 My protest was against a war I believed we did not belong in. The people who served in that war should be honored and respected. I know most people see it the same way now but back then… Well, you know how it was.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The day I met the man who became my husband, I was on my way to a Vietnam War protest. Bob had been home about a year and a half and had to be careful to whom he stated he was a Vietnam veteran. I was, along with many of my frequent fellow protesters, able to separate the young men who were mostly drafted, from the war they were forced to fight. I do know how it was, as do you. And we both knew it then.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. The post and comments are so interesting. I think most younger people have been bullied into silence. They have been taught that nice is better than interesting or opinionated. I went to school just as this new morality of niceness was coming into being. I remember a feminist theory class where it was considered acceptable to bully the lone, sincere white male student for all the wrongs (and imagined wrongs) every female student ever felt. i was humiliated by my sex. This opened my eyes to the dangers of group identity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do not know your age but I am guessing you are somewhere around my son’s or daughter’s age. Both do not follow the flock of their generation and, like you, base their feelings and opinions on what they have learned and experienced. I am glad you listen to the beat of your own drum.

      Liked by 1 person

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