My challenge to you for 2023

Think for Yourself


 I know that this is an opinion piece in a local newspaper with limited circulation. I understand the likelihood that I will ever inspire real change is miniscule, but all change begins as a small spark and grows into a roaring flame. In this article, I would like to use my limited space to issue a challenge. I am a bit of a political junkie. I watch hours of political debate and commentary. I devote a great deal of time to considering the issues and studying the relevant facts. I watch various news and commentary representing various viewpoints. Sometimes, I get so frustrated at the things I watch that I argue with the individuals on the screen. I listen to individuals I admire and individuals I don’t admire. I try to listen objectively. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain objectivity when I am confronted by statements that I know are false or purposefully misleading, but I try. If a fly lands on your sandwich, you remove the fly and still eat the sandwich. When there are bird droppings on the sandwich, you throw it out. Sometimes, I turn the television off.

I challenge you to watch the opposition. I challenge you to read Troy Smith’s articles on Hegemony, History of Voting in America, or any of his other topics. If you identify as a Republican, I challenge you to watch videos of Democratic politicians. If you identify as a Democratic party supporter, watch Republicans. To be clear, I want you to listen to people you disagree with. That is a simple challenge. Some people could even turn that into a game. They could take a drink each time they heard something they disagreed with. Sadly, my challenge is a bit harder than that. I want you to consider what is being said. Don’t dismiss the words because of the source. When you consider the words, if you disagree, try to articulate your opposition. Hopefully, your reasons will have more substance than you oppose who was talking. Hopefully, you will consider not only what is said but why it is said. Whether you agree with Troy’s political opinions, he does have extensive knowledge of some fascinating history. I sometimes choose to apply the lessons of history differently than Dr. Smith, but I don’t believe he would ever intentionally misrepresent historical facts.

There are several reasons I am issuing this challenge. Individuals are increasingly spending more and more time online. You may or may not be aware that internet companies like Facebook and Google have artificial intelligence algorithms that learn your personality and target their offerings based on that personality. They learn that you watch conservative Christian content and funnel that content to you. They know if you support liberal causes and feed you a steady diet of liberal media. This may seem like a good idea. After all, they give you what you want. Unfortunately, this causes a narrow, myopic vision. We consider it brainwashing when individuals are denied access to alternative viewpoints. Even worse, this bombardment of single viewpoints contributes to the division that is destroying our nation. It corrals individuals to extremes.

Are you so unsure of your positions that you are scared to consider other views? Are you so smug that you refuse to consider your positions might be wrong? Maybe you feel that you don’t have the time to answer my challenge. Are you so busy or lazy that you don’t have time to consider current issues? I am not asking you to do something difficult, like exercise or mow the lawn. This is my challenge for you. Listen to all the voices, not just those who say what you want to hear. Do your own research. It is easy to find answers if you take a few minutes to look for them. Form your own opinion by thinking for yourself.          


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