Friday, July 5, 2013
Society • Is Critical Thinking no longer P.C.?
In days long past they were called, “Philosophers.” The term engendered respect toward those hearty individuals upon whom the title was bestowed. A philosopher was considered an intellectual scholar whose observations pierced the veneer of society, probed beneath the surface of outward actions that accompanied the art of semantics, and peeled away layers of rhetoric (and in many cases, hypocrisy) to lay bare the essentials of truth.
Famous “Thinking Man” Statue
Today those same skilled individuals would, in many cases, be considered trouble makers, rabble-rousers, whistle blowers and misguided social activists. Society today does not want thinking people who might, with their observations, upset the apple cart of profitable bureaucratic schemes.
This turn-about on intellectual thought may have begun in the days of Christ. He certainly qualified as a critical thinker. One of his disciples, Thomas, while being visibly moved at the resurrection of Jesus, still wanted to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the phenomenon by asking to see the nail marks in his hands and feet, and the hole in his side from the spear.
It was a proper inquiry for a critical thinker. Yet, to this day, the mention of Thomas carries the label, “Doubting Thomas,” a somewhat negative connotation propagated by many churches. Very few bouquets for a legitimate critical thinking inquiry.
Today it is not a question of how society views critical thinkers. It is rather, does society think at all? In the present age it may not be politically correct to do so. Twenty-first Century society does not really want anyone probing its surface.
From a personal vantage point, the critical thinker must be more than a scholar seeking truth and understanding. This individual must be strong, unwavering and willing to “suffer the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortune” of those who have their own agendas and who feel their own surface intellect and opinions are far superior to any scholars’.
So passionate are they in their quest for their own voice to be heard that the result could be character assassination and at times, violence. Write a letter to the editor stating a religious or political view point, make a public statement regarding a specific class of people, or indeed speak on any issue and watch the flood of negative responses.
Criminal charges were once filed against this writer for questioning and criticizing the actions of Child Protective Services for illegally taking a child from his mother.
But despite the inconvenience of being dragged to court and becoming the subject of front page headlined newspaper stories, an enormous amount of good resulted. The Washington Times ran a series on abuses by Child Protective Services due to this well publicized case. NBC TV did a special on the program and laws were proposed and passed against these unwarranted procedures along with making the adoption of foster children easier and faster, which all came directly as a result of this case becoming a national concern.
Parent’s groups were formed all over the United States to unite against abuses by CPS. And best of all, with all the noise, Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga investigated the case of Adrian Chavez, who was forcibly taken from his home, ruled that it was an illegal action and ordered the system to release him back to his mother.
Yes, today the serious critical thinker pays the price of resistance by being the subject of public criticism and sometimes hostility that most are unwilling to pay.
However, there is also a great internal reward in being an instrument of positive change for the betterment of all. We desperately need a new rising crop of these brave scholars who will indeed, make the world think. Their recognition will eventually come.
Rev.Austin Miles earned his B.A. in Philosophy.
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