Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thinking is Mandatory!

Sorry, friends ... but we have minds so that we can think. There are many of us so that we can sharpen each other's thinking through a variety of methods. Even if we do not know as much as someone else, we are still required to process what we do know to the very best of our feeble ability. We are to ask questions ... always. We are to questions answers ... always. We are to challenge that doesn't make sense ... always.

God is not afraid of our questions ... but some of his self-appointed "handlers" are. Jesus said not to worry about what they think ... worry about what God thinks!

Thinking is difficult because it is a complex process and requires a lot of effort if it is to be done well. There's the rub, eh? M. Scott Peck, in his book The Road Less Traveled & Beyond, begins with a chapter on Thinking. It is worth the price of the book by itself! He claims that all problems are a result of failure to think well.

A few highlights ...

The common errors Peck says are related to the failure to think well:
  • simply not thinking
  • making assumptions in thinking--through the use of one-dimentional logic, stereotypes, and labeling.
  • the belief that thinking and communicating don't require much effort
  • assuming that thinking is a waste of time (as if quick action without thought is better)
His section of chapter one titled "The Point of Having a Brain" has some more important, er, points I'll paraphrase or quote:
  • the frontal lobe of the brain is involved in our ability to make judgments, and it is here that the processing of information--thinking--primarily take place
  • when dependency needs and feelings rule our lives, the root is a disorder related to thinking--specifically, a resistance to thinking for ourselves
  • "...there are profound ways in which society actually discourages us from using our frontal lobes, promoting one-dimensional, simplistic thinking as the normal way of functioning."
  • institutions (family, church, mass media), in their failure to teach or demonstrate how to think well, set people up for thinking simplistically
  • when institutions are seen as modeling good thinking and truth, they have the power to fool and manipulate -- setting forth cultural norms as assumed normal and correct, when they discourage our growth because they are often based on half-truths as well as outright lies ... the biggest lie being that we have the right to be happy all of the time.
Skipping a few sections (not because they aren't good...) to "Common Criminal Thinking" brings these gems:
  • most common criminal thinking is simplistic and one-dimensional
  • those who always see themselves as victims do not take responsibility for their choices
  • living primarily in the present (poor perspective on time) lends them to not consider the future or the consequences of their actions
  • an extreme sense of entitlement that is cocky (often from inferiority complex) leads to justifying violating other people or their property without regard for their rights
  • the sense of entitlement that arises from superiority complex assumes they should always be first and are due anything they want -- even if it means taking it from others
...and that doesn't leave many of us too far from turning criminal, does it? Only by the grace of God, says I!

* * * * * * *

One thing that wasn't really known at the time Peck wrote this book: the frontal lobe is not fully connected neurologically until the early to mid 20s -- especially for males. BUMMER for this mom of the boys! The "can I?" doesn't align with the "should I?" for much longer than many want to believe. I repeat myself: BUMMER!

This fact makes me want to raise the age of adult accountability (and with it voting, driving, and drinking) to at least 21 years! Let more of the young people take public transit or ride their bikes during high school and college.... Require them to learn to think well before being able to vote (not sure what to do the with over 21 folks who won't learn to think well, but at least the next generation will be farther along that road less traveled, eh?) ... and before they have killed off too many of their brain cells with alcohol!

This would also increase the age for joining the armed forces, which is also a good thing! Of course, thinking for yourself isn't exactly encouraged in the rank and file of the armed forces ... maybe that is part of the problem?

Okay, don't get me too riled up!

* * * * * * *

Well ... that's just scratching the surface -- and challenging me to take the time to read this chapter again. You should find this book and read it for yourselves, you know. Because waiting for me to do your thinking is not good for you!

And those folks who talk about tolerance all the time need to remember that part of tolerance is being patient when you don't get your own way all the time. Just had that discussion with my 10 year old this morning, as he was reading the chapter on Tolerance in our well-worn book, The Family Virtues Guide: Simple Ways to Bring Out the Best in Our Children and Ourselves.

Abi says you should get this book ... it is priceless!

* * * * * * *

Thanks to Jonathan and Bill for making me go back and get Peck's book off the self ... and rant about it here.



Janet Woodlock said...

I love Peck's writings... so much wisdom written in such an accessible style.

One of our youth specialists at work commented recently that the male brain typically isn't fully mature (and capable of over-riding emotion in decision making!) until about age 27.

I'm wondering if I can tell my boys they're not allowed to marry until that age, unless I arrange the marriage for them? (Don't think they'll take to this idea somehow).

Oh well... not all emotional decisions are bad ones...

AbiSomeone said...

Thanks, Janet. Sorry to be so slow in reply -- I read your comment in my notice and didn't get over here sooner!

We have already told our boys that that may not "date" seriously (read: only group hanging out allowed) until they have finished college and have begun to work and can support a family.

I think there is something to men getting married around age 30 ... but don't go so much for them marrying 14 year old girls! ;^)

I just bought the book "Boundaries in Dating" and have assigned it to be read by my 14 year old son. We will be discussing it during high school ... and then, when he's a senior, I'll assign Lewis B. Smedes' "Sex for Christians: The limits and liberties of sexual living" for reading and discussion ... because I will not have my children clueless about these issues. Nor will I have them educated by their peers or culture. This is part of my job as parent and I will see it through.

...not much on arranged marriages, though ... I'd much rather leave that to the Holy Spirit -- and pray and pray and pray for all parties to be open and discerning.