Is it your civic duty to vote?

“For it is not our civic duty to vote. It is our civic duty to become informed so we’re qualified to vote.” Selwyn Duke

I had an interesting conversation with my wife yesterday. We started discussing how important it is to actually think about what we put forth as our own opinion. In our conversation, she had taken a stand, that I believed, she really didn’t believe. I was of the opinion that her statement was based on something Sean Hannity had said on his radio program, (since she had commented as such) and not on her own thoughts. My belief that she didn’t believe what she was saying was based on my knowledge of her beliefs. What followed, in my opinion, was a very interesting conversation discussing the meaning of true freedom.

I do understand how easy it is to listen to someone else’s comments and the comment sounds reasonable (on the surface) and then turning around,without thinking critically about it and making the idea your own. I have been guilty of doing this myself, we all have, at times. The reason this topic is important is the reality that we are in a battle for the soul of our country. Parents (myself included) and our educational system have failed us dramatically, in the fact that we have not been taught how to think critically. It is easy to do, that is, not think critically. We each have our own lives and things going on around us. Sometimes we just don’t want to be concerned about the cares of the world, the house is a wreck and “my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu,” as Harry Chapin would say. And yet, the problem is a very simple one, manipulation. If we fail to think critically and simply take other people’s opinion’s as our own, we place ourselves in the position of being easily manipulated. Everyone has an agenda; Hannity, Drudge,  Letterman, Brian Williams, Limbaugh, President Obama, Governor Romney, me and you. All have an agenda. we are all putting forth our ideas, hoping others will listen and act appropriately. Unless, we put forth someone else’s idea, and because we have failed to think critically about what they are saying, we just regurgitate their words because (we think) it supports our own agenda. The late night comedians love to use this lack of critical thinking as the subject for jokes by asking people leading questions that may or may not be true and then allowing them to answer, knowing many don’t care enough to even think about the question. Then the big laugh is on these non-thinking people when their answers make no sense or are shown to be false or foolish. This can happen to us because we (in our own minds) believe the other person is telling the truth. This frequently is because we haven’t thought about what they are saying critically. This is what recently happened to several Obama supporters when they were asked questions about policies that were portrayed as Romney policies. The people asked said they disagreed with the policies and ridiculed them. When in fact the policies listed were all Obama policies. Once the truth was revealed, they all looked very foolish because of their lack of critical thinking. Many times what other people say, appears (on the surface) to line up with our own ideas. Yet, often it doesn’t or the idea is communicated so vaguely that no one, but the speaker really knows what it means. Politicians love this technique, remember “Hope” and “Change” in 2008?

As Selwyn Duke said: “It is our civic duty to become informed so we’re qualified to vote.” And thinking critically is the key to accomplishing this goal. And critical thinking is the key to true freedom, because then the things you say, are really your own ideas, because you have made them so. And true freedom really begins in the mind.

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