I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City NewsPress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “Called Together”.dad tells a story about when I as a little kid and he knew he was in trouble.
I was about 5 and I pointed to a piece of wood that was hanging between two rooms, it had three hinges and a knob. The conversation went like this:
Me: “What’s that?”
My dad: “It’s a door.”
My dad: “Because that’s what it’s called.”
My dad: “What do you mean why? Because it is.”
My dad: [deep exasperated sigh]
Unfortunately, for some, I never grew out of that desire to know more. I know there were those times in high school and college where I thought I knew everything, but I think we all go through those periods. I like to know stuff about stuff. It’s part of the reason I attended formal schooling for 21 years. I have a high school diploma, a college degree, and two masters degree. All that means is that I know for sure that I don’t know a lot.
It also means that I rarely listen to an answer of “because that’s the way it is” or “because I said so” or “because he/she said so”. I have strong opinions but I try to come to those opinions through gathering of information and, if I come up to or am shown some new information that causes me to change my opinion, I change my opinion. I like to think that I use the intellect that God gave me to critically think about my ideas, assumptions, and perceptions. The trouble is…I don’t think we value that critical thinking piece much anymore. We are told what to think not how to think. Our students are taught the answers to test questions not necessarily how to find the answers. I think most of that has to do with politicians and bureaucrats telling educators what’s best, but that’s for another column.
I know, as a parent, it’s much easier on my psyche for my children to just do as I say, when I say it, but I’m handcuffing them when they get out in the world and they run up against information that I don’t have. I want for my children to learn how to think and process information, so if they learn something that I don’t know, which is a lot, they will be able to judge whether or not it’s useful for them or whether it causes them to change their ideas, assumptions, and perceptions. As I have gotten older, as I have traveled the world, as I have lived all over the country, as I have met lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds I’ve always learned something and it helps to shape who I am and the way I interact with the world. Author C.S. Lewis once said, “There seems to be hardly any one among my acquaintance from whom I have not learned.” I agree wholeheartedly with that statement, even if I don’t always agree with those who I meet.
That openness and ability to think for yourself, to adjust to new information, and to move forward is vital to our health as a city, a nation, and a world. If we only rely on information because our pastor, our parent, our favorite newscaster, athlete, or musician said it we run the risk of being stuck in old ways of thinking while an ever-changing world passes us by.
One of my main goals, as a parent, is to help my children become independent thinkers with the ability to judge for themselves (through experience, study, prayer, and conversation) what is good and right for them. I want them to be open to being wrong and willing to admit it when they are. I hope that we all can learn to think, not learn what to think.
At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.
Favorite: Watching my beloved West Virginia Mountaineers beat the Kansas Jayhawks in basketball.
Not Favorite: I’m a home brewer, I spent six weeks brewing a beer, it did not turn out well. I will now have to dump about 30 12 ounce bottles, $30 of materials, and 6 weeks of work down the drain.