This is an essay I wrote for a college class and felt that it should be given the opportunity to be read by others. It is based on what seems to be the norm today; that we do not think for ourselves but allow others to think for us then react as they would have us do. When you read this, take a few moments and see if you are part of the norm or are one that can and will think, decide, and act according to your own will.
I believe that most people would take the essay statement’s base premise that being informed is the best way to approach, and possibly produce, a solution to the challenges of our society as a true statement. The operative words ‘creative thinking’ and ‘critical thinking’ are what put action into the statement and are the key to any benefits that might be observed from the action. Before any discussion can be made concerning the benefits received by an informed citizenry, I think it would be prudent to define the terms state above. Without definitions as a background, we may take off on tangents that get away from the core statement.
Let’s look at the beginning of the statement; “An informed citizenry…” What does it mean to be informed? One definition of informed is having sufficient and sufficiently reliable information or knowledge to be able to understand a subject or situation and make appropriate judgments or decisions regarding it. It would then follow that an informed citizenry would be those that search for information, digest it, and actively participate in society putting their knowledge to a good collective use.
This citizenry now puts their knowledge to good collective use by creative and critical thinking. Dr. Edward de Bono states that creative thinking is, “looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions (though these solutions may be unsettling at first)”. The definition for critical thinking could be stated as disciplined intellectual criticism that combines research, knowledge of historical context, and balanced judgment.
As individuals, and as a group, we have challenges daily. Individually, we look at the challenge, determine its cause (informed) and develop a means to solve it (creative and/or critical thinking). In a group situation, we approach the challenge in the same manner, but now we take input from the group, choose the best ideas, and apply them. In both circumstances, new ideas may have been voiced and possibly used, the challenge is solved and both the individual and the group have gained some kind of benefit.
As an informed citizenry, we need to take the same approach with the challenges we face as a society, largely now couched in the political arena. The challenge here is to overcome the bitter bi-partisan government-knows-best attitudes of our elected officials and attempt to put at least a modicum of civility and intelligence back into all political discussions. In so doing, we may plant the seed for more cordial and beneficial activity.
This doesn’t mean that bi-partisanship will disappear, but at least discussions would hopefully revolve around the matter at hand and not solely on ideals. It wasn’t until this last election that a small group of citizens finally began to notice how the government spent our money. Through some research as well as some critical and creative thinking, this citizenry developed a loosely knit organization (Tea Party) that, as they coalesced, forced a big change in make-up of congress as well as the thinking of our leaders. It was time to remind our leaders that we are a democratic republic and that they work for us, not us for them.
This was an example of an informed citizenry applying critical and creative thinking to determine how to address the challenge of a bigger and more costly government. I would hesitate to say that there were not plenty of new ideas presented and that even if they weren’t accepted at the time, the grain of a thought was planted. Were there benefits to the citizenry from this group addressing the challenge from an informed position? I would say yes, that the immediate, though maybe not recognized benefit, is the citizens of the country seeing that we, the people, do have the power to alter the direction our leaders are taken.
An indirect benefit will be, regardless of anyone’s political affiliation, that the citizenry has taken a big step to what can be euphemized as taking back some small amount of control of our government. It may be difficult for some to realize that not all benefits are realized immediately but as we move through the coming elections, we may just see our leaders begin to actually listen to us and sincerely try to meet our needs. Another indirect benefit will be that discussions, though still partisan, will be more likely to involve honest discussion of topics instead of blaming. The challenge will always be there and as long as the citizenry stays informed, by means of the internet, multiple print sources and open discussion, we will benefit.
Having now stated my thoughts on how an informed citizenry can benefit from creative and critical thinking, I will state that it is imperative we as citizens stay informed and do not allow others to think for us. Kennedy Javuru stated succinctly that “A functioning democracy needs an informed citizenry. Providing citizens with adequate information on priorities, programs and activities ensures not only the legitimacy of a government, but also institutes regimes of transparency and accountability.” (Media and Democracy, October 15, 2010). Stay informed and governments will be accountable.
I have been informed that students are plagiarizing this post. I must state that any writer worth his or her salt will appropriately cite any information taken from this post. It is incumbent upon the writer to use their own words and where others’ statements are used, appropriately cite those words. When you plagiarize my post, or the words and thoughts of anyone, you are showing yourself to be part of the ‘norm’ and not capable of either creative or critical thinking. Regarding the title of my post, should Professors have this title as a research assignment, I would think it is incumbent upon them to instruct their class as to the nature of this post and that any sign of plagiarism would be dealt with appropriately.