Looking at Independent Thought

I have been accused of being an independent thinker and also a sheep following the herd. And I have to admit both statements have been true at various points in my life and in a variety of situations. It is impossible to live according to someone else’s rules. The key for independence is to be able to look, listen, research, and come to a conclusion. Whether that end goes along with others or finds you swimming against the current is not the definition of independence. To be independent is to have the freedom to develop your own opinion using whatever tools and materials are at your disposal. It means being able to search for alternative sources, evaluate them for accuracy and validity and utilize them in making a judgement.

The tricky point currently, is the step of evaluating a source. It is becoming much more difficult to suss the reporting from the spin, propaganda from the unbiased truth, the political from the factual. It used to be just like Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Now it is all about pushing an agenda that is aligned to one political point of view or another. The free press is getting harder to find.

Why this little rant? Well, tomorrow we celebrate the Fourth of July, the United States of America’s Independence Day and I’m not feeling very independent. I spent a little time on Facebook and it was hard to take. There was the usual flag waving and fireworks but underneath it was a current that was ugly. It was a “we are the land of the free and the home of the brave” BUT not for blacks, immigrants, foreigners, the poor, LGBTQ, and any that are different or have a different stance than those shouting with the loudest voice. And that made me so very sad and angry. There were a couple of people that I “hid” from my feed who had very unchristian things to say about a whole bunch of people I support. I support my gay relatives and friends, my friends and relatives who are not Christian (be they Jewish, Muslim, Hindi, Buddhist, Atheist, or Wiccan), my friends and relatives who are Democrats, Republican, Libertarian, and Independent and of course all my friends and relatives who are not caucasians of European descent. We have become so divided that it is not the United States. It is scary.

70 thoughts on “Looking at Independent Thought

            1. Well, that’s a given. The current president has been referred to as many things (and lots of them are self described) but he claims genius. He is also a “huge” and “big, biggest” liar, so every time he claims he is a “stable genius” I think the opposite. I’m just hoping we survive long enough to vote him out!

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  1. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the musical 1776, but when I first sat in the audience of that show is when I realized that we never were “united” states. It’s been propaganda since the beginning. Nonetheless, we need to do better RIGHT NOW.
    We’re wearing black for July 4th in my house.

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    1. If it weren’t so blazing hot I’d join you for the wearing black thing. I’m thinking I might just stay inside and wear my skin! (the physical distancing and isolation makes that a viable option right now). As for unity, you may well be right. Seems this POTUS has been very willing to foist responsibility on the individual states (for decision making and financial responsibility) and then he turns around and tries to stick his fingers into State’s business where he doesn’t belong… One minute he’s telling the states they are on their own with no federal help and the next he’s hovering over them threatening them with military occupation. It feels so – – – what’s the word? Schizophrenic?

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  2. Having traveled overseas a few times, everyone still would rather be here for the 4th than in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe or at least may aspire to come here. I have heard many tales. I feel we are doing something right and those doing something right generally continue despite the tales we hear over the media. Enjoy the 4th.

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  3. I’ve been having those same thoughts lately but I’ve come to the realization that it’s not the country that’s changed; it’s us. We have lost our naivete. Life’s lessons have taught us that the saccharine platitudes we swallowed without question were simply the propaganda of the wealthy, white men in power. Winston Churchill dismissed the possibility of history not being kind to him when he said he would write the history. That said, there are still many decent people in this country who struggle to determine the truth and speak it, despite the cost.
    Let’s celebrate the 4th by loving our neighbors…even though they are shooting off illegal fireworks.

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      1. Neighbors can be funny sometimes especially renters. Although some white men in power, I like. It is the individual response which is strange as always. There are plenty of other cultures and people in power of nationalities, color, etc. I don’t agree with and wouldn’t like to be stranded in their country.

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    1. Thanks Judy! You are right – we have changed and the system hasn’t. Or perhaps the system (laws) need to be better enforced so that everyone can vote, everyone can have justice and those freedoms that many take for granted – freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion and be had by all! I will love my neighbors. Of course in my state there is hardly any firework that is illegal so it sounds like a war zone for 7 days before and 9 days after the 4th… The dog (RIP) used to be a nervous wreck but it got lots better once he went deaf!

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  4. So true. The very same institutions I rely on for facts (NPR, New York Times, Dan Rather’s News and Guts) are dismissed by conservatives as propagators of leftist manure. Is their information factual and unbiased? Or do I trust them simply because they agree with me, the same way righties trust FOX and Breitbart? I rely more these days on my intuition and values, what feels right to me. My mom used to ask, “How would you feel if somebody did that to you?” Independent thinking is not the same as not following the crowd. It’s fine to follow the crowd if you think they’re right. A lot of our problems stem from the need to be “better” than someone else. On a TV show, a professor asked a student which she would prefer, if he gave her a B+ and gave the rest of the students an A, or if he gave her a B- and everyone else got a C. As you probably guessed, she chose the lower grade that put her at the top of the class. I’m not planning to celebrate the 4th. Fireworks were cancelled due to COVID but even if they weren’t, I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. Why would I want to celebrate people’s freedom to stand too close and not wear a mask? My neighbors have been shooting off bottle rockets, etc, every night (it is legal here now) while I hunker down on the couch trying to keep my dogs calm and worrying about the lady next door, a retired Marine with PTSD. My husband wants to hang our flag upside-down, symbolic of a nation in dire distress.

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    1. I agree 100%. It is getting very difficult to determine what is fact and what is a little kernel of truth wrapped in lies. We are going to a small gathering (4 of us) to celebrate several things including the 4th. We will have a few sparklers and likely some glow sticks but there are no fireworks. We won’t fly the flag upside mostly because we have no means to do so. I know the whole dog issue as Ranger (RIP) used to be a complete bowl of jello once the loud booms started. He’d whine and try to crawl under the sofa (3″ clearance for a 60 lb dog). I can only imaging that having PTSD would make the 4th a nightmare.

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  5. In some ways I think our nation is experiencing growing pains. We got complacent and deaf to changes that needed to be made in a number of areas. That’s pretty much a sign of good character and honestly part of our US/American story that attracts so many people to hear it.

    During the “self-quarantine” I have heard every person say that they used the time to clean and organize their home, their files, their wardrobes and their considerations for the future. Our national chores needed some attention, too, I think. I know that might sound harsh to some, but when I work on chores for the day, I focus on the result more than the work, so I can anticipate the reward of a task truly done well.

    Just – don’t look at my oven, please. I HATE cleaning the oven (blush).

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    1. Yes this quarantine has been a time of “cleaning” and not just the home but our collective conscience. Need to sweep away all the injustice and start making this a time of healing… And I know how you feel about the oven. That is kind of the problem with racism – we never see it unless we open the oven door… time to get cleaning!

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  6. I meant to say that “making changes that need to be made, though they make us uncomfortable are pretty much a sign of good character…” We need an edit button for comments in WP, chuckle.

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  7. Unfortunately people forget that their parents or grandparents or great grandparents also came here as immigrants. This anger and know-it-all prejudice is so damaging and so unjust. Your post about all the different lives in this nation, rings a sad bell of doom and gloom today, and I hope a new dawn and day will come when we will all feel secure in the knowledge that we are truly one nation under God, indivisible and with justice for all.
    Thank you for your thought provoking post Val. I salute your parents for the way you think and write. What great role models they had to have been!

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    1. I thank my lucky stars that my parents were kind, generous and had an abundance of common sense. I am a “melting pot” as all my ancestors were immigrants. It is too bad that some of the most rabid have forgotten their roots… Hope today is a joyous one in your household!!

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  8. For your new fan, ’tis wonderful to learn more re your POV.
    Yes, indeed, re ‘free’ press. Like medical field and others, it’s become infected, if i may, with capitalism. Doom and gloom sells. Not for long, though. Lots of us, young and old, are just so very done with this dis-ease. 😉

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    1. Yes I’m well aware that the pharmaceutical industry has only $$ as their goal. I’ve been working with labs involved in development of new antibiotics. One showed great promise but all the big pharma said it was not a viable product – too much to make and too small a market. It is disheartening (or heartless of them).

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  9. I think we have always had strong opinions, and have always diverse. The problem is that now so many people seem to feel that it is their duty to make sure everyone else thinks exactly the same way they do. I also get so discouraged on Facebook, because there is so much intolerance of anyone who is different, in any way.

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    1. Simply stating what you believe is now an affront to anyone who disagrees. We are in a time of such litigiousness that no matter your stance someone is willing to argue. My mother would often say that we (her children) were so argumentative that if one simply stated black the other would reflexively say white – just to start a fight…

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  10. The key to independence is critical thinking. There, I summed up your blog post in two words. How about that for being lazy? By the way, I never follow without research. If I see an ass in front of me, my goal is to get in front of it.

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    1. Concise but uninteresting. Research is vital. However it seems that I may have misjudged you – I would have thought that you would prefer the ass in front of you so that some kicking could occur…. I guess you are much more non-confrontational than your writing portrays.

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      1. Oh no..I usually kick it out of the way. The harder they resist, the worse it is for them. And I always do my research. That is part of critical thinking. There are only two kinds of news stories. Those that lie, and the ones that cannot tell the truth. Because of this, my “bullshit meter” pegs hard right very quickly.

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  11. Independent thought can be a good thing, or a terrible thing resulting in benefiting the suppressed, or making life a living hell for the downtrodden. An exceptional piece- thank you for this!

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  12. Boy, I so agree with you. It seems important to get our news from several different sources. That way we can evaluate what we read and hear and try to find the truth. We must sift out a lot of chaff to find the wheat, that is for sure!

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  13. I feel you Val..even my own small country is divided too in many ways and it is very sad and it also makes me angry at times..

    I can only hope that future would be different

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  14. You are following a masterful path. I, too, could care less about what others think-as trying to please 7.8 billion other people, or any sizable percentage thereof, is like shoveling sand into the ocean. I have defended Christians from atheists and vice versa; progressives from conservatives, and the reverse; black, whites, Latinos, First Nations, Asians, gays, straights, young, old, boys, girls and all in-betweeners- the same hold true.

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