I have a bigger worry than election day, and it is the state of the American electorate. We seem to have a challenge sorting out the truth from the not true. We pick up on pieces of information, maybe true, maybe not, that seem to support our point of view. We are easily baited by the politicians to react one way or the other. We support political parties like we support our favorite sports team with our brains turned off, and just running on emotions.
The kind of thinking that is called “critical thinking” is missing in much of the American electorate. We cannot have reasonable discussions and find some compromise, some place in the middle that will work for all of us, but no side gets their way.
Being an educator, I think about the flood of information we expose students to, but we do not slow down and teach students how to process all this information. Very few students leave school with critical thinking skills. They do not have the chance to develop these as they are too busy trying to manage the flood of curriculum that is being presented. This is why I am not totally sad about seeing our students lose some school during the pandemic. Maybe, just maybe, this will give everyone a pause and some time to think about what is really important.
Some big choices and challenges are facing the generation coming of age now. They will need to understand issues from both sides and the consequences of their choices. The consequences are not simple and cannot be presented in the sound bites of politicians. They will need truth, hard facts, and the ability to discern truth from falsehood. Many special interests and groups with vested interests will try to sway they minds of Americans.
We need to teach that our minds are precious, and they are ours and belong to us – to be damned before you will let someone make up your mind for you.
Slow down, read carefully, listen carefully, ask questions when you don’t understand – be in charge of yourself, and remember, we are all sharing this place we call home and this planet. We are just stewards and need to leave a place for those that will come after to us that will be their home.
We need to learn compassion and empathy for each other. These are part of being human, they are good, and they give us the capacity for love.
Sorry for what appears to be a sermon. If anything, I am feeling sadness right now and it seems I needed to say what I have said.