The imperative of our era.
There is no problem in the United States that could not be solved if we were still a nation of critical thinkers. But critical thinking has been intentionally replaced by dogma. Having a degree is not equivalent to having an education. Knowing something is not the same as understanding it. In a world saturated with information, the “key” to distinguishing between truth and falsehood is one question, one word: “why?”
Why should schools and companies discriminate based on skin color? Why should my race say more about me than my brain? Why is it okay for federal immigration law to be ignored while federal tax laws must be obeyed? Why are Americans who defend the Constitution treated as domestic terrorists? Why are Americans who burn down cities treated as heroes? Why does every “solution” to climate change involve the expansion of government powers and the contraction of personal liberties? Why must the government police speech in order to keep it free? Why must government disarm citizens in order to keep them safe? Why is the government so afraid of the people that it must spy on them at all times? Why is it no longer “our government,” but rather the government?
Are those questions dangerous in a “free” society? Of course not. They lead to discussion, which leads to debate, which leads to contemplation, which leads to greater understanding, which creates a more perceptive mind, a more capable American, and a more complete human being. When government deems some questions subversive, it is admitting that it no longer represents the people, but rather rules over them. And any public school system that replaces the tools necessary for developing critical thinking skills with rigid indoctrination countenancing no dissent is producing not healthy citizens, but useful slaves.
The great philosopher George Carlin used to say, “Don’t just teach your children to read[.]…Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.” That’s how real learning is done — in the trenches with one hand on a flashlight searching for knowledge and the other gripping a shovel, digging up the oft-buried truth. Carlin also knew that when it comes to truth, governments cannot be trusted: “I have certain rules I live by. My first rule: I don’t believe anything the government tells me.” If more Americans could learn this simple principle, our society would be in a much better place. Free people with free minds do not need politicians to do their thinking for them.
The science is settled? The time for debate is over? Never. Only people interested in stealing your agency and capturing your soul say such things. It is our capacity for reason that makes each of us distinct and our distinctive qualities that make each human life individually valuable. When government deems individual minds unnecessary, then individual lives become disposable. That’s when governments do great evil.
Ahh, but what about when government deems individual minds not just unnecessary, but an active, credible threat to their own designs? What’s to be done about government then?