With the political season heating up, it may become difficult for even the most thoughtful people to remain respectful during election debates. We could all use a reminder on the way to maintain civil discourse and keep debates focused on real arguable issues. Having the freedom to debate and state our opinions is what makes this country great. Voting is a privilege and we should treat it seriously. This requires careful consideration and critical thought before casting our vote.
The essence of critical thinking requires questioning. A critical thinker must question everything he or she is told or believes and this includes even that which the person considers common sense. Critical thinkers are open minded because they seek to draw conclusions after asking many questions both about the information they receive and that which they locate through research. It requires us to think further and consider both our position and try to see the other side.
Here are some examples that may indicate a lack of critical thinking:
1. President Obama is evil. Mitt Romney is evil. Joe Biden is evil. Paul Ryan is evil. There many variations of this. Each reflects a lapse in critical thinking. Just because you differ with any of these men on political or social policy does not make them evil.
2. President Obama, Mitt Romney, etc., doesn’t like America. Why would anyone subject himself or herself to all the rigors of running for office if he or she did not genuinely love this country? Could we just allow for the possibility that each candidate is truly patriotic?
3. President Obama was not born in the country. Please put this one to rest. He was born in Hawaii and has the birth certificate to prove it.
4. President Obama (or President Bush) is not my president. If you are an American, the president is your president. You may not have voted for this person, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is (or was) the president.
5. I’m leaving the country if Obama or Romney wins. Please stop making empty threats like this one. If you think the value of living in the U.S. is conditional upon the current president, you are missing a great deal.
There many examples of a lack of critical thought. These are just a few.
Please remember that the goal is not to call people out for their lapses in critical thought because we have all (myself included) made mistakes. Let’s all make a vow to refrain from personally attacking those who disagree with our point of view. Civil discourse is possible and it is necessary.