The 2012 election season is upon us, let the games begin! As our culture is inundated with promises, campaign speeches, political rhetoric, truths, lies, and everything in-between, it is important that we not forget to think critically by doing a few things for ourselves:
- Go beyond the surface-level. Issues that are tremendously complex are often over-simplified and dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator by 24-hour news organizations, politicians, religious institutions and people of all races, gender and sexual orientations. It is our responsibility to understand the history behind a position and statement. Don’t get lost in obscure words and phrases. Inversely, don’t be hypnotized by the blinding simplicity of promises and slogans. By thinking, researching and investigating, we have an opportunity to not make rash decisions, which are the foundation of the hope of each politician: “Vote with your gut, not your brain.”
- Ask questions. Many ordinary, day-to-day citizens fear asking questions of leadership. It is important that each and every one of us remember that asking questions is important, especially deep and probing questions that seek truth and understanding, not for the purpose of defamation.
- Get Involved by volunteering, assembling, debating and exercising your individual voice. It is important that our individual voices are heard and the best way to do that is to volunteer, assemble, debate, and discuss. The only way that problems can ever be solved is by stopping the belief that the individual voice does not matter. If you believe that your voice will not be heard, then that leads you to do nothing. A self-fulfilled prophecy that is unnecessary and the root cause of a lot of political misunderstanding and apathy.
- Be willing to be wrong. Humility is key. Without it, we only progress further into the pit of despair that is our modern society. Stop trying to be right, that only divides people.
- Become a student of history. By understanding where we have come from we can have hope in a better future without making the same mistakes of the past. Read books, watch documentaries and investigative news programs, interview politicians and leaders, talk with other people, and have an open mind.
There is more that we can do as a culture. Unfortunately, there is a collective and individual choice that needs to be made: Will we pursue critical thought or continue to be self-imposed victims of the elite, wealthy and powerful?