Scranton column: ‘Tis the season to be thinking
People are gearing up for the holiday season which is upon us and started in earnest with the e-x-t-e-n-d-e-d Black Friday sales. Most people will tell you that this is going to be a weird, if not kinda lonely Christmas. Based on some of the mail some people felt compelled to send me last week, I might be playing the part of Grinch who stole common sense this Christmas. But, in the life of an opinion columnist, this is par for the course, and I do appreciate hearing from those of you who heartily agree or disagree with my “opinion” and take it for what it is: a community member who enjoys writing and sharing thoughts on all things Craig and Moffat County.
Most people that I speak to in many areas of responsibility in and around our community are getting tired of all the virtue-casting that people have suddenly grasped onto as part of their uninvited, public due diligence. The great thing about an opinion is that everybody has one and most people find some avenue of expression through various mediums and outlets. Used to be that there was a common acceptance of people’s perspectives and musings as a valuable part of a free and healthy democracy.
Critical thinking is the hallmark of good discussion and everyone needs to be aware of the type of language that leads to people feeling like they are not being respected or considered. So much hyperbole surrounds just about every area of our lives these days and with the onset of social media; people now feel compelled and empowered to try and “cancel” the views and opinions of people whom they have disagreement. This leads to a sanitized version of free speech and all the forays into debate and discussion that allow each one of us to find support for, or adjust, our various biases.
Not biased? As is made clear in the most elementary classes on critical thought; everyone, yes you too, has a bias. Bias is simply the way we see the world which, in turn, services our preconceived ideas about how things should be. I’m glad when people choose to speak out about whatever it is they feel strongly compelled to share. Surely we don’t all think alike! I can’t even get general agreement amongst students on the best meal to have at Thanksgiving!
Opinions are statements that can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and serve to help each one of us make our way through the day and help determine our friends, what we choose to eat, or what brand of vehicle we drive. Facts are those statements that can be proven right or wrong and they are much trickier than opinions.There are various methods for proving a fact that include reliable sources, up-to-date information, and unbiased sources. Unbiased sources simply give you both sides of an issue and allow you to do some thinking for yourself.
As I tell every student who passes through my classroom: I will never tell you what to think but I will do my best to try and teach you to think. It’s the least we can do for those who are growing up in an increasingly conversationally fractured world that equates meaning with truth. No matter how much something means to you – it doesn’t make it a truth – or an untruth! This is what true freedom protects and cherishes and allows each one of us to discover through our musings, conversations, disagreements, debates, and discussions.
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