The trouble with thinking part 2
Information is so readily available to us. Our technology allows us to gather ideas and thoughts from around the world in an instant. Our minds quickly classify and categorize and filter the information into what we determine is useful and worth reading or considering and what we can simply discard as irrelevant or wrong. For example: We want to know if giving a child a vaccination is safe. So what do we do? We Google the name of the vaccination. More than 200,000 resources become available in less than a second. We quickly filter the articles and determine which ones are worth reading. Where did the filter come from? A conversation with a friend? A pastor? A show from 60 minutes I watched three years ago? The movement in the country that connects vaccinations to autism and has science to prove it? Or the hundreds of scientific studies that prove there is no link? Lots of people have lots to say on Facebook, maybe I should read their comments.
So maybe I should just trust the experts and ask my pediatrician. But maybe the pediatrician is a homeopathic quack or is getting a kickback from the pharmaceutical company. I mean I watch Law and Order and there are some really crazy people out there. The real trouble we have is that we want to have someone else make the decision for us and not actually think it through. In fact, problem solving is a diminishing skill in our specialty driven world: too much noise, too much confusion, too much advice, too much information.
The real trouble with thinking is that we would rather argue or run away or fight. As soon as there is a problem that requires some thought, we polarize it and create good guys and bad guys. This leads not to solutions but to sides and division. Evidence of this is so easy to see and hear. The conversation turns from “we have a problem and need to think our way through it” to “you are a liar and a thief.” Character assassination opposes solutions and thinking. Thinking people know this and get disgusted pretty quickly with it.
On the Apollo 13 mission, there were these famous words, “Houston we have a problem.” Everyone’s mind began to race to find solutions to the problem, and there were lots of ideas. Ultimately, the men on the flight had to make a decision about what to do. They had no time to polarize or elect a decision, no time to vet each other and attack someone’s character. There was no “you were wrong last time this happened.” They had to think, choose, and act. So they did.
There comes a time in a person’s life when they have to think and then decide, and then act. For a while, thinking is good. We have to filter. But remember, the purpose of thinking ultimately is to make a decision that leads to action. So how do I learn to think?
Thinking is a lot like preparing to write an essay. You begin with the problem or the idea. Lay out on the table the options, research all of the options and weigh what you learn, make a decision based on your research. Live out the decision. For me, this is why personal Bible Study is so very important in my life. Over the years I have learned that the Bible provides the answers to all of life’s problems. When I have a problem or a decision to make, I follow the thinking process and lay it all on the table. Inevitably God’s word brings clarity to the decision.