Need for ‘Critical Thinkers!’

It was one of those discussions which started with all the good intentions in the world. It being held among long-time friends, expectations, if there were any, wouldn’t be other than a possible wonderful afternoon! Of course, the main topic would be like it has been for more than a year now would be politics. Someone must have at one time or another said that the most lethal mix is when alcohol presides over political discussion. Come on, draft beer is no more alcohol I’m the guard in the LA Lakers basketball team. Yes, there were bound to be disagreements over issues, if not then the agenda isn’t our politics. Some heated volcanic words would spill into the air but no one expected any real problem to happen.

Sadly, what we never thought would happen, happened! (If you thought all the talk about changing times and messed up world is some journalistic cliché or political narrative filler, then I’ m sorry to break it to you; you’re wrong. No offense meant, but despite all our wonderful intentions of seeing a beautiful world, where the sun will shine on all humanity and hatred and vice give way to love and virtue, it isn’t going to happen any time soon. So it happened within the group that somewhere into perhaps an hour or so of ‘discussions’ and some four or so rounds of draft beer what we thought would be a memorable weekend turned proved to be a memorable weekend in ways we never expected. It’s really sad to see how the polarized politics of our country has denied us chances for honest, no-strings attached comradely discussion. What’s more, the problem, when it hit, hit a big way. It was not a slight bump, or stumble. It was more of a fall over the w edge of the cliff. That’s what happened friendships of three and four decades just flew down the cliffs and ended up in splinters on a very unwelcoming ground. Sad that such scenes have become familiar these days.

What happened? I’ll tell you what happened. The discussions as mentioned were about the prevailing situation in our country. Now, unless one argues for only argument’s sake there should be little disagreement about what actually is going on. Many things are happening and it’s all over the news. How can there be any disagreement about such-and-such meeting having been held or so-and-so a politician appearing on some channel. It’s not about decoding what was said or anything like that. A couple among the group, very uncustomary for them, said they don’t believe even footages of live transmissions! Somewhere in the past few weeks they have stopped taking any and all news for granted claiming everything depended on the skills of the video editors. Previously among the most rational souls in the group, they entertained wild ideas of what they say was actually happening elsewhere in the country. The part that astonished even to a certain extent scared the others was the aggression they witnessed in their long-time friends. You know, that ready for any fight, any second aggression.

If things were about political thoughts or anything like that you could have brushed away everything with one wave of the hand. It wasn’t. No one knows when and how. All of a sudden all the words flying over our heads were about ethnicity! Would you believe it? Here was a group of comrades who rode through the rough waters of decades without allowing any crack to appear in relationships and now we almost looked like we’d gauge each other’s eyes out over, this is a torment to say, ethnicity! Especially two of our colleagues didn’t have s any nice words for the other along ethnic lines! Failing to break up the heated altercation we just left one after the other, something we’ve never done. Ask me and I’ve never, I’m saying it again, never faced the necessity of knowing the ethnicity of the other person, friend or otherwise. there are twenty-something of us childhood friends (Abiro Adegs) who have been together for the better part of four decades and no one really ‘knows’ the ethnicity of anyone else! Why should we! Why the hell should we! (Lately, thank God, and our friends seem to have regained their senses and have apologized to each other over the phone.)

You know a very big problem with us these days is that honest discussions are hard to come by. Every one of us has holed up in one corner or another. No one is listening to anyone! Shouldn’t that be scary? When what you said is pushed to second place and first comes the ‘information’ from which part of the country you are, or with who you are hanging out regularly nothing could be scarier. That’s what happened to those within the group. No one really could identify at which point the screws began loosening. But no one missed where the real shattering explosion of words came. One among the f group says to another “It’s because you came from such and such part of the county that you don’t understand what I’m saying.” Now nothing could be viler than that. Unfortunately there are many of us who think and speak in such general terms and it’s helping no one. He could have singled out the guy and called him a moron, stupid or whatever though that doesn’t make things justifiable! At least that’s better than exchanging abuses based on ethnicity! (After hearing POTUS calling the fox guy ‘“Son of…” something’ you wonder if that’s an example of speaking your mind.)

You know what I think we’re badly short of critical thinkers. Yes that’s one problem which seems to be putting us down. Of course unless you call political gibberish and adjective-laden outbursts as critical thinking it is rare to come across critical thinkers. A politico who knows nothing about politics might ask you…

“What do you mean by critical thinkers?”

“Well, you know the people who go deeper than the surface of things and try to look at from and all angles…”

“What do you think we’re doing here?” yes, that the kind of politicians we seem to have in abundance these days.

Our knowledge of politics is either largely lacking, or is still stuck in the time quagmire of decades gone. (Remember “You’ve nothing to lose but your chains!” Which finally proved to be the changing of chains and not the discarding of them!)? Some months back at some bill collecting office I heard a frustrated person say “Maybe it’s time for socialism.” Ha! (Sorry, just thinking out loud.) What! What was that that again…? “Maybe it’s time for socialism.” And, yes you guessed, he must be one of those who haven’t moved since half century back. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying echoing that “Socialism is the playbook of losers…” rant from you know who and where.

Ephrem Endale: Contributer


Leave a Reply