Understanding the Connection Between Critical Thinking, Seeking Human Respect, and Where We Are Now
Before the stay-at-home ordinance I regularly attended a weekly networking group 1 Million Cups (1MC), funded by the Kaufman Foundation. Baby entrepreneurs with less than five years in business present for six minutes, followed by 20 minutes of Q and A from our entrepreneurial community.
Ask At Your Own Peril
A 1MC presentation by a start-up founder over a year ago puzzled me. The individual had created an app for college students that allowed them to anonymously ask questions in college lecture hall classes.
This business struck me as odd and unnecessary. If a student had a question, why couldn’t he or she just raise a hand and ask?
Leaving, I chatted with a few Millenials about their opinions on the business concept. They educated me on how the app would be very well received by college students today, who are quite ill-at-ease with expressing an opinion or even asking a question publicly that might not be well received by their peers.
Hmn…so is the message here, ‘Don’t be the one to ask the questions”?
The Cost of Deviation From the ‘Group Think’
A short while later at our parish mission Dr. Edward Sri, a founder of FOCUS, a college campus missionary group, described the pressure youths entering college endure. He recounted the experience of a solidly Christian college senior he knew who entered college life.
In one of her first large lecture classes the professor had a discussion on same-sex marriage. He asked any student who did not support same-sex marriage to speak up. This young woman raised her hand and indicated she was not in favor of same-sex marriage.
Shortly after, at a weekend social gathering, another student in the class pointed her out to the entire crowd. He mockingly identified her as being the person in class who was against same-sex marriage.
This woman was completely ostracized for her beliefs. In short, in order to fit in she completely abandoned her faith.
How Did We Get To Where We Are Now?
The Coronavirus–our reaction to it, and the multitudes of intended and unintended consequences to the prescribed “cure” for the “disease” – didn’t happen in a vacuum. Our drifting from critical thinking and our increased importance on maintaining human respect set us up completely for where we are today.
Critical thinkers don’t bash others and their opinions. They don’t armchair quarterback, calling plays from the sidelines.
And they don’t expect 20-20 decisions from their leaders in retrospect on novel events, at least in our human cohort, like the Covid-19 pandemic.
Critical thinkers curiously ask the next logical question. They recognize the systemic nature of human interaction. They acknowledge that one action can have a domino effect. They explore with a sense of wonder and responsibility about what that domino effect might be.
Critical thinkers don’t seek blame or shame or pit groups against each other. But rather with a spirit of curiosity they genuinely seek real solutions to real problems. Two months into this new Corona Virus new world order, a critical thinker might ask these or similar questions:
- Worldwide or by region what are the total number of deaths in the past several years over the same time frame as during the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic?
- What were the causes of deaths in the past several years as compared to the same time frame with the Coronavirus?
- What is the criteria for labeling a cause of death as Coronavirus?
- Is this criteria consistent worldwide or by region?
- What is the average age of the individuals who died from Coronavirus as the cause of death?
- What underlying conditions did these individuals have?
- What is the survival rate of people who do get the Coronavirus?
- How do we know the true fatality rate for Coronavirus, when many people could have the virus and show no symptoms?
- How could not having accurate statistics on the fatality rate influence the measures we are taking as a nation, world, and region to “fight” this virus?
- How is the Coronavirus transmitted?
- What are the ways to reduce your chances of getting or passing on the Coronavirus?
- What is the purpose of wearing a mask based on how the Coronavirus is transmitted?
- Does it matter what kind of mask you wear and how you wear it in terms of any preventative or protective value from wearing the mask?
- What were the goals for closing schools and requiring non-essential businesses to close? Have those goals been achieved?
- Are our hospitals now equipped to handle Coronavirus cases?
- What has the effect been of discontinuing other “non-essential” medical procedures with the intention of making sure we had adequate capacity to handle the hospitalization of Coronavirus patients?
- What is the short, intermediate, and long-term economic impact of the measures we have used and some states are continuing to use in response to this pandemic?
- What is the short, intermediate, and long-term impact our responses and public health policies to the pandemic had on mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health?
- What compromises have we given to our Constitutional rights in order to fight against this virus? Will those Constitutional rights be restored when the pandemic threat has passed? Who determines when we will know when the pandemic threat has passed, and what criteria will that be based on?
- What is contact testing that a number of states are planning to employ? How does it work? What are the benefits and risks of such public health measures?
- How has the shift to online education created an unequal ability to learn in families who may lack adequate technology or computer devices; may have a parent who has to work outside the home; or may have a single parent versus a two-parent family?
- What is the difference between treating a virus versus treating a bacteria infection?
- Do all viruses have vaccines?
- How have we functioned in our normal life and business practices with other viruses that do not currently have vaccines?
- What is the goal of social distancing strategies at this phase of our “fighting the virus” campaign?
- What is herd immunity and how is it achieved?
- What are other examples of herd immunity?
- If we are reducing the number of people getting the Corona Virus, including those who are asymptomatic, might we be slowing the process of herd immunity? In light of this how might our social distancing policies be drawing out rather than bringing to closure the negative effects of this pandemic?
- How can we protect the vulnerable in our population from this virus, while keeping up healthy economic activity and social interaction practices?
- What is the cost of extended stay-home ordinances to retail businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues to our overall quality of life moving forward and to the impact of the people who own these kinds of businesses?
- What is the impact of printing and distributing money we don’t have in the U.S. Treasury to give to businesses and individuals, who have been affected by policies prohibiting them to work and generate wealth and revenue?
- What is the impact if we don’t provide some kind of financial relief to individuals and businesses, who have been affected by forced economic shut downs?
- How does the messaging around our strategies and data on the Corona Virus, whether it be more fear-based or hope-filled, affect the psyche of people in our country and their future behavior and the impact of that behavior?
- Based on what we have learned from the effects of the public health practices we have implemented so far, what kinds of public health policies will balance both the needs for safety and health of our citizens and the safety and health of our economy and human need for social contact?
Many people and business owners I’ve talked to have opinions on these and other questions, but in the current climate keep their opinions relatively private.
Our country has evolved to where having differing opinions, depending on the topic, is no longer tolerated. There can be serious negative consequences for a business owner or anyone to publicly express sentiments or opinions that go against the current group think.
We’ve created “group think” when for enough people the need to be accepted becomes more important than the exercise of critical thinking. People come up with superficial framing of the issues that allows them to not make waves.
The consequence is what we see today. Massive people going along with many ideas and practices that have serious short, intermediate, and long term negative effects on our global community as a whole.
What Can We Do?
- Understand this process and engage in critical thinking yourself right now.
- Take actions on what you truly believe, not what you think others think you should believe. If you have done the research and feel like it is appropriate to wear a mask somewhere; to not go to a restaurant; to do whatever, then do that with confidence and clarity. But don’t engage in behaviors just because someone said to do so without thinking it through. To do so is to be part of the problem.
- Focus back on clarifying and taking actions on your vision. Your vision and purpose for being created did not change as a result of this virus. In fact, the disruption probably has helped many of us be more aware of what we do and don’t want to help further clarify our vision. Go back to why you were created. Shape your thoughts and guide your actions based on that purpose. Allow the external situation around you to work itself out. Be an observer, not an absorber and take the next logical step in front of you.
The critical thinkers who have the right approach to human respect will thrive, not just drive in the world moving forward. You speak volumes in what you are doing and not doing and who you are being. Love and fear cannot coexist. We are currently living in disproportion levels of fear. Be the light of love in everything you say, do, and who you are being. This inspires others to let go of their fears and move forward as well.
Christian Entrepreneurial Biz and Life Tip: One person can actually change an entire system. Be clear on what you think and the data you consume; live congruently with those beliefs; move forward towards your vision; and look back behind you. There will be many people following you because they were just waiting for you to lead.