Tag Archive for critical thinking

The Kids Aren’t All Right: Part 5–Wake Up!

Let us then never fall into the sleep that stupefies the rest of the world: let us keep awake, with our wits about us. (1 Thessalonians 5:6 PHILLIPS)

 

Technology can be our friend.  It created the laptop on which I am writing this, the Internet on which I posted it, the social media whereupon I distributed it, and the device upon which you are reading it, among many other more beneficial things.

 

This same technology, however, can also be our enemy, as it robs our productive time, pushes our dopamine buttons relentlessly, decimates our attention spans and erodes our ability to relate to one another outside of cyberspace.  It seems that the more tech savvy we become, the less aware we are of the real world around us.

 

This phenomenon can affect any generation, of course, but kids today have never known a world without this technology.  Texting is as natural to them as breathing.  When new tech becomes available that might make the head of someone my age blow up, kids adapt to it instantly, as though they were part machine.

 

What concerns me is that with all this information at the touch of a button (or a voice command—who needs buttons anymore?), an entire generation may be losing its ability to think critically.  Anyone can retrieve copious amounts of information off the interwebs, but do they know what to do with it?  It’s bad enough when kids fall for the clickbait, but when the generation that’s supposed to be teaching them how to make sense of it all is caught up with the rest of the sheeple in the fake news maelstrom, then the kids don’t stand a chance.

 

The 21st-century paradox of technology is to be totally connected, yet totally oblivious.  This needs to stop.  It needs to stop because there is a real world out here with real people in it that have real needs that we were uniquely designed to meet.  God can’t draw our attention to these people and these needs if we’re busy taking selfies instead of looking for signs.

 

Yes, technology is fun.  There is a 99% chance that if you’re reading this, you found it by a link on social media.  And obviously I spend a fair amount of time on there as well, or I wouldn’t have known where and how to post this.

 

The main issue is where, and how intently, we are focusing our attention.  We can’t teach our children to be more aware of the world around them if we aren’t, because as every parent knows, kids will do what they see us doing before they’ll do what they hear us saying.

 

It all comes down to self-control, really.  Any intelligent adult is capable of prioritizing his or her activities and determining which of them should receive the most time devoted to them.  But be honest now.  Are you better at planning your work or working your plan?  To an unfocused person, even the planning process becomes busywork, until the planning becomes an end in itself.  I’m done planning my week, so . . . TIME FOR FACEBOOK!

 

Staying awake and alert over the long term requires having a driving purpose or mission.  Without something like that to focus on, your mind will drift, and your body will follow (since that is where your mind is located).  Before long, you’ll get to a place where you stop to look at your life and wonder, “What happened to me?  How did I end up here?”

 

And if you can’t figure out how your own life got off track, then how could you expect your kids, who have never had a chance to get their lives ON track, to have any kind of motivation to wake up, rise above the masses and make a difference in the world?

 

We have to be on our guard at all times against anything that would deter us from our main mission.  For our own sakes, and for the sakes of the kids who are watching us and trying to make sense of their own lives.  They’ll never even understand the concept of trying to find their calling if they don’t first observe what it looks like to seek after it.  And they’ll never be prepared to rise to the occasion if they are unaware that an occasion is even taking place right in front of them.

 

Therefore it falls to us be more intentional about being awake and aware.  We can’t guarantee that our children will employ self-control just because we model it, but it’s for certain that they won’t if we don’t.

 

Doubt: Part 8–Healthy Doubt

 

The world is well equipped to fulfill our desires, but when it comes to our true needs– not so much.

 

We can have everything we’ve ever wanted, but it will never be all that we need.  All of our stuff can fail or vanish in an instant.  Most of us don’t find ourselves in that situation, but any of us could.

 

Therefore, we need to be aware that what we really need is what is provided for us, not what we can create ourselves.  For everything we create was created out of something that was already created.  We cannot create something from nothing.

 

That awareness is the key to the beginning of spiritual maturity.

 

You have to be aware of what you need.  You have to be aware of how you are unable to create anything that meets your true needs.  Finally, you have to be aware of who provides the means for your needs to be met.

 

Again, once you have reached this point, you have a choice.

 

Do you acknowledge your dependence and admit that you are a spiritual infant and that you really need your Daddy to come and make everything better?  Or do you reject that notion and try even harder to fix it yourself, blindly ignoring the reality that you are only repeating the same process that got you to the needy state you’re currently in?  That is the road that pride will lead you down every time.

 

We are left then with the inescapable conclusion that the only way to have our needs truly met is to surrender our pride and admit our dependence.

 

In other words, we have to use our doubt in a healthy way that leads us to the truth instead of away from it.

 

I am not saying that we should never doubt, because doubt will show up uninvited, and there’s nothing to be done about that.  What I am saying is that instead of letting doubt and skepticism rule our thinking, we should take our doubts captive and use them to eliminate everything on the “not real”  list.

 

Then we must make the final step of acknowledging that whatever is left over is real.

 

Not all of you reading this will believe it just because I said so (nor should you), but I can tell you that whenever you use your doubt to find what is real rather than what is not, God will always end up on your “real” list.  You can’t escape that, no matter how hard you might try.

 

(For a personal story of how I tried anyway, come back for Part 9–Skepticism)

 

Empty Glass: Part 4–Stupid

 

There is a state that is worse still than arrogance. 

 

At least the arrogant man has had a taste of knowledge at some point.  There are those who have never taken the lid off their empty glasses at all.  These people are utterly devoid of knowledge and not in the least interested in obtaining any.  As such, they are not worthy of such an elegant-sounding title as “ignorant” or “arrogant.”  Let us therefore simply call them “stupid.”

 

The stupid person will walk into the tree EVERY time.  You can use logic to tell him not to.  You can show him the line of people with unbusted faces.  You can give him a self-help book called “Build a Better Life by Not Walking into Trees.”  You can slap him purple and scream into his face, “DON’T WALK INTO THE TREE, YOU IDIOT!  YOU’RE GOING TO BUST YOUR FACE!!!” 

 

And he will walk into the tree.  Every….stinking…time.

 

No matter how good the logic in your pitcher is, ain’t nuthin’ getting’ in that glass.  The lid’s on, and it’s not coming off.  If you try to pour knowledge or wisdom into that glass, not only will you not achieve your goal, you’re going to make a mess in the process.  You might have better luck trying to teach a cow to juggle eggs. 

 

It really is true that you can’t fix stupid.  Even God can’t fix stupid, as Paul wrote:

 

So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen(the Gentiles)do in their perverseness—in the folly, vanity and emptiness of their souls and the futility—of their minds.  Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished)from the life of God—with no share in it.  [This is] because of the ignorance—the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness—that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart (to the insensitiveness of their moral nature).  Ephesians 4:17-18 Amplified

           

I also like how these verses are paraphrased in The Message:

 

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd.  They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself.  They can’t think straight anymore.

 

See, here’s the thing about lids.  You can’t remove someone else’s; you can only remove your own. 

 

Too often, educated people try to use logic with stupid people and then they wonder why the stupid person doesn’t say, “Gee, I never thought of it that way.  I guess I will walk around the tree!” 

 

Walking around the tree is a choice you have to make for yourself.  You can’t make someone else walk around the tree. 

 

The reason you can’t remove a lid with logic and reason is that logic and reason didn’t put the lid there in the first place.  Pride is the clamp that holds the lid on a glass that isn’t full.  Pride is what makes you think your knowledge is better, and pride is what keeps you from getting any smarter than you are right now.

 

Only humility can remove the lid.  The only way you can position yourself to fill your own glass is to take off your own lid. 

 

(Taking the lid off is only the start. Come back for Part 5–Pouring Out.)