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Failing to think critically

Dear editor:

As I ponder the issues of our country, I cannot help but feel frustrated by my lack of understanding the great divide in our people. We hear some people placing blame on Donald Trump for this divide. We hear some placing blame on the media for this divide. I contend that it is not a person -- good and bad personalities have always been with us; it is not the media -- biased and unbiased reporting has always been evident. As the philosopher "Pogo" would describe -- "I have met the enemy and it is I" (my paraphrase).

As a people, we fail to think critically about the issues. We fail to remember that we are a country and are surrounded by mostly honest hardworking people just like we are. We consistently believe what we want to believe without entertaining the thought that our position may be in error. All we must do is look back over our lives and honestly see the times that we have been wrong rather than zoom in on our correct positions. Gamblers most often tell of their winnings, not so much of their losses.

Many articles and studies have pointed to the fact that we as a people tend to be lazy thinkers. I do not state this as a condemnation, but a position supported by much research. One such publication that points this out is "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman about this very issue. This book is required reading in the War College. Fast thinking is grabbing onto the easiest and perhaps most often heard thought about a problem that does not require us to delve into the intricacies of the issue. Slow thinking is defining the problem, gathering facts, analyzing the entirety of information prior to rushing to judgments and/or conclusions.

As we merrily go about seeking to arm ourselves with a community that thinks like we do, seeking news outlets that support our positions, we are failing to see that the issues are much more complex and may more than which we wish to deal.

Democracy is messy. Democracy is difficult. Democracy is not efficient. Democracy is hard work. Democracy is beautiful. If we wish to stop the divide in our country, it is not by electing a particular president, not by ignoring news outlets that do not support our positions, not by dismissing ideas that are different from ours, not by demeaning every institution in our democracy. It is by widening our horizons and honestly doing the hard work that is required to have a working and thriving democracy. It is being open to possibilities of which we are not the author. It is truly listening to others. It is recognizing the beauty of diversity. It is recognizing others as human beings with the same aspirations as we. It is valuing our fellow man. It is by accepting the fact that we are part of the problem of the divide and to be part of the solution, we must take responsibility for the divide. Without personally taking this responsibility for the divide, we cannot hope to attempt or to be a part of the solution for the divide. It will require finding common ground to begin, negotiating, comprising with open minds and hearts. It is possible.

Clarence Durand

Hot Springs

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