Think for yourself
To be able to think for oneself is the ultimate expression of freedom, as one might be physically free but mentally a slave of those to whom one relies upon to make a decision or form an opinion. And just as it is from mental freedom that the slave eventually goes down the path of the physical, so it is from the enslavement of the mind that the enslavement of the body becomes possible. Yes the ability to think for yourself is that important.
Develop the courage to go against the crowd
One of the biggest obstacles to independence of thought is not in lack of schooling or intelligence, but in the fear of going against the crowd. Man fears more being ostracized than he enjoys the truth. So on your way to the discovery of your personal truth, always be sure to remind yourself that the world will forever host a support group for all kinds of weird, even the weird in opinion or style of thinking. So regardless of how different your views might be, you will never be alone. Practice thinking for yourself more, even if that results in the loss of peers.
With a lack of education comes an increasing lack of confidence in one’s abilities to make good decisions or form sensible opinions. So the less educated the man, the more likely he will be to delegate his decision-making progress to others, and with each act of delegation, his confidence shrinks even further. The solution here is to pursue some kind of education. And by “education” I don’t just mean of the formal kind you find in schools or universities, but also the informal. The source is irrelevant, as long as the teachings are sound, and the lessons can in some way be of use in real life. The more you educate yourself the more confident you become, and to those who don’t see themselves as wise or intelligent, small bits of wisdom and knowledge will be enough to propel them into learning and mastering harder and more complex subjects, and with that tendency to follow the crowd without a second thought will become increasingly unbearable.
The world is saturated by charismatic thought leaders with the ability to not only convey the contents of their minds effectivelly, but also lead the crowds into assuming truthfulness, even in the absence of solid proof or data to back it up. Conviction is the keyword. Conviction is that secret sauce so potent as to empower one into being able to convert falsities into truths. Or to at the very least make them look or feel like it. Remember that sometimes the truth comes with no feeling attached to it. Sometimes the truth is cold. So learn to question everything that comes your way, even that which feels to be true.
At the end of the day, the purpose of independence of thought is not for independence of thought for independence of thought’s sake, but for the discovery and flourishing of the truth, in an environment in which dogmatic thinking is the rule. Especially when the dogma is wrong. There is no point in developing the courage to assert or defend a point of view one knows to be incorrect for the sake of going aganist the crowd. Just as there is no point in asserting or defending a point of view without doing one’s homework first. This means to question every personal belief/thought not just for the sake of not going down the wrong path personally, but also for the sake of those who might be influenced by one’s convictions. It’s one thing to be wrong and to pay the price for it. What is really sin worthy to influence others down the same road and thus, because of either intellectual laziness or irresponsibility, to be of detriment to not only one but multiple lives.
It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
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