In the international socio-political landscape, creative, clear and critical thinking is imperative. As complex media platforms manifest messages of fake news and misinformation, differentiating rational reality from fictitious fantasy demands using our minds to think constructively for ourselves rather than ignorantly follow the flock.
Psalm 12:1-21 exhorts “to think with sober judgement”; an inspiration for responsible and respectful independent thought to engender empathy, understanding and compassion.
American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote in 1876 that: “Great men are they who see that spiritual force is stronger than material force, that thoughts rule the world.” Contrastingly, British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, opined: “Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth…(it) is subversive and revolutionary…”
However, underlying both these perspectives is a realisation that thoughts can be incredibly powerful, perhaps even disturbing, destructive and delusional among other things, invoking a need to carefully critique the how, why and what about them. Throughout history, thoughts have been applied for benevolent achievements, but simultaneously, they have erred for humanity’s downfall.
Consequently, analysing people’s thoughts for inherent moral value can foster individual and social well-being and while disagreement is inevitable, even desirable, thoughtful arguments that are sensible, sane and sensitive can identify thoughts worth contemplating as well as recognising that others should deconstruct.
Last year, the Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority introduced critical and creative thinking tests, yet only 15.3 per cent of Year 10 students at one secondary school attained top results. This new program presupposes many adults do not think creatively or critically, let alone maybe think at all, as how many take time out to think in their hectic schedules? Thinking need not be traumatic, but a tranquil antidote to angst.
It may not be that people ‘fear thought’; rather they are intellectually lazy or uninterested in thought itself. This can be more frightening, with people hooked on beliefs by swallowing bait without intelligent reflection.
The human capacity to think should be applauded as an important difference to animals, an exciting human endeavour to enrich our minds with awareness and insights for enhanced decision-making and clarity in our confusing world.
Ensuring thinking is enjoyable, despite initial difficulties and frustration, should be inculcated in everybody as a mature ethic for life, not an irrelevant indulgence that’s insignificant.
Indeed, French philosopher Descartes believed thinking intrinsic to our very being: “cogito ergo sum”- “I think therefore I am,” and as Russell concluded: “Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man”. We must keep the faith.