To have thoughts is not an accomplishment as it is part of the default operating system all humans possess.
To deliberately think, on the other hand, is a much more significant accomplishment.
However, not all thought is created equal. Ironically, many thoughts are mindless; the product of years of indoctrination and subordination.
There are three important components of progressive thought. In this context I mean progressive, not in ideology, but in terms of the ability to move humanity forward.
The three elements are critical thinking, empathy, and imagination.
Without critical thinking, we are left with unchallenged ideas. We believe what we have always believed. When we are unwilling or unable to challenge our beliefs, we are incapable of progress.
Without empathy, we see only from our own point of view. Our problem solving is limited to the scope of our own experience, because without the ability to see from another’s point of view, we cannot effectively understand it. Without understanding, there is no progress.
Finally, without imagination there can be nothing new. We are forever left with the choice of existing options. Existing options produce little progress.
The progress of humanity has always been a product of these three modes of thinking.
The current state of affairs is that there are not nearly enough people willing to engage in critical thinking. They are unwilling to challenge their own preexisting beliefs, They are unwilling to listen to someone and empathize with them long enough to understand them. They lack the imagination to invent an option that does not yet exist.
Instead, we believe what we believe, dismiss the experience of others, and preserve the safety of existing options…at the expense of progress.
It’s time we fixed it. Perhaps education is less about memorizing the Pythagorean Theorem, and more about critical thinking, empathy and imagination.
Can you imagine what might happen if we taught people to think, instead of indoctrinating them to follow orders?