Thinking below the surface

We seem to have trouble with critical thinking. And our political system doesn’t help.
— President Barack Obama

Brothers & Sisters,

Some folks seem to have lost the ability to think critically about anything. We read a news article and no longer ascertain our own opinions but those of the journalist we take for our own. Why? What happened? I consider this one of the great travesties of our lifetime. Perhaps you think I'm blowing this out of proportion? Permit me to explain a bit further in detail.

Let's take emails for example. I would argue that sending an email that is more than 1 or 2 sentences is going to be an exercise in futility for you. I've found that most folks don't read past the second sentence even in a clear concisely written email with questions and tasks laid out. Just the other day I had an exchange with someone who literally regurgitated the questions I asked at the end of my email and sent them back to me. I was left speechless. All of my replies back to this person began with "in my original email you'll see that I asked..." There's a reason why most big businesses take forever to get things done, and I'd argue that this is one of the reasons. This was a clear indication to me that the person I was dealing with was incapable of processing an email beyond 2 sentences long and has forever changed the approach I'll take with them.

My next example would be the ability to not think past something you get hung up on. In one of my classes, we had to pick a topic and write about. I chose to write about FIAT LUX: Illuminating Our Common Home which was a  public illumination and projection of photography on St. Peter's Basilica in 2015. It was widely criticized as sacrilegious for the mere fact that it was being projected onto St. Peter's. If one were to read more about the event they would have probably come to a couple natural conclusions: 
1. The show was meant to bridge the Pope's encyclical Laudato si' and the climate change conference that was happening in Paris. It also marked the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and there was a connection made between these two events.
2. This was a subtle way for The Vatican to embrace new technologies and the delivery of art. This one act allowed a centuries-old institution to bridge the gap between the beautiful statues and paintings of old and how humans generally consume are currently, through photography and video. Think about that for a second. In an hour The Vatican brushed off centuries of dust and jumped into the new millennium.

Even my classmates who wrote responses regarding this couldn't get past the fact that this is something in their minds that shouldn't be projected onto St. Peter's. The thought is that St. Peter's being such a holy and sacred place should not be the backdrop for this kind of art. I'd argue that it should be the exact place for an event such as this.

I just want us to think a little harder. We all have a supercomputer between our ears but hardly ever use it. Question things, think hard about others, have conversations, and don't jump to conclusions.

Yours,
Jeff

Photo by Cristian Grecu on Unsplash