A Conundrum

Let’s pretend that there is an ideology that, if practiced according to its fundamental document, would encourage pedophilia, abuse of women, killing homosexuals, and murder of those who disagree with said ideology.

Let’s pretend that for 1500 years, those who follow their fundamental document have engaged in violent conquest leaving behind a trail of corpses and severed heads.

Let’s pretend that this ideology follows a book written by a man who married a six year old and only became more violent as he aged.

Let’s pretend now that the apostates who refuse to follow the violent, pedophilic, minority murdering book were now seen as the “fundamentalists” of the ideology, while those who continue the 1500 year traditions are called “radicals.”

Let’s pretend that the leaders of countries where these “radicals” have been waging a targeted war decide that there should be a safety measure in place to make sure that the locations where violent pedophiles generally form en masse have less access to their targets.

Let’s pretend that a group within a targeted nation is one that would be slaughtered by these “radicals” if they were in these dangerous locations, and these minorities who would be murdered now protest to fight for the very “radicals” who want to kill them to come over to where they are.

Does this make any sense?

Let’s pretend that there are 20 houses on my street. If one house in my neighborhood was full of people who wanted me dead, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t send out invitations for my cookout to them and their friends.

Let’s pretend that not only did I know that those in that house wanted me dead, but I knew that they had already killed some of my neighbors and even burned a house to the ground with a family inside.

Would it make sense for me to not want them on my property?

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A Stream of Non-Consciousness

The invariable veracity of vociferous verbiage carries with it the weight of the inevitable disinterest of the topic of discussion. American illiteracy and apathy in education have decreased enlightened and rational thought. We have abandoned the use of polysyllabic linguistics for the parlance of colloquialisms. Yet, there are many who believe the millennial generation to be of more superior intellectual stock than our forefathers who conducted themselves with a manner of sophistication that would boggle the minds of the mealy-mouthed miscreants who misrepresent their elders as ignoramuses.

The rest of us are simply doomed to a disastrous and preposterous future involving pseudo-science and scientism masquerading as empirical scientific evidence. Gender is not genetic and human life is only potential, so long as it remains unborn. Some truths are no longer self-evident, and we have failed to systematically disinfect against the disease of megalomania permeating our higher institutions that have dragged us to this moment in history.

Knowledge no longer percolates, but stagnates as the porous sections of our minds are closed to information that is not related to celebrity shenanigans. We have become athletic supporters relegated to learning sports stats rather than social statistics while society slips past us and interrupts our regularly scheduled programming with breaking news of the decimation of American values that shocks, awes, and appalls us until the commercial break is over and we embrace the reality on our television sets.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled deprogramming.

Critical Thinking in the Modern Age

Why?

It is one of the first questions we articulate as children, yet we often forget to ask it as adults.

Perhaps we were told too often by our parents to stop asking, and we listened too well. Perhaps we should start asking it more often.

Why do I want this job? Why do I go to church? Why do I love this person? Why do I like going out with my friends? Why do I need this drink? Why?

There are also the bigger questions like why was I born at this time? Why do I feel empty inside?

It seems that we have some kind of gut feeling with regard to each of these scenarios. We know that we like our spouse or our friends. We know that we need a job. We know when we are unhappy, but we have stopped asking, “why?”

As a father of four girls (perhaps I should have asked “Why?” more often as well), I often ask my oldest two—the ones who can actually articulate words—why they do or say certain things. The answer I receive most often is a shrug of the shoulders. My nine year old said something interestingly profound a few days ago. My wife and I were talking politics, or, rather, I was talking politics and my wife was a captive audience, when my oldest said, “who would want that job?”

I asked her why she would say that, and she claimed not to know. I was honestly curious, but she shied away from answering. However, it got me thinking, why WOULD anyone want that job?

Being President of the United States has to be entirely exhausting. Every action and inaction is scrutinized by celebrities, media pundits, and families at the dinner table. The world watches and mocks when you misspeak at a press conference or have a bad round of golf. Simple tasks like going to a restaurant become headlines when you order a cheeseburger after promoting healthy eating. You sign laws and enact budgets that you did not write, and pay the price whenever an industry that you never worked in implodes. Is it no wonder why every president seems to age 20 years during the 4-8 that they are in office?

There are basically two reasons why someone would run for office. They are either altruistic individuals who are willing to give their lives for public service, or they are power hungry control freaks. More often than not, our leaders fall into the latter category.

This election season, we should ask ourselves two questions. Why is this candidate running for the office? And why am I supporting this candidate?

Furthermore, we should begin asking “why” in so many more instances. It is the essence of critical thinking. This three-letter question provides necessary introspection in many cases. In this fast-paced society where time is a limited commodity, we run on instinct. This leads to extremely quick decisions that are often not entirely beneficial to us.

Next time you feel overwhelmed by a choice that could lead to a self-destructive behavior or major life change, ask yourself why?

It is the essence of critical thinking—a skill that is often overlooked. There need not be a complex philosophical Socratic methodology of logic and inquiry.

Just ask, “why?”