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Independent Thought – 15 Questions

Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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9 Comments
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Amazing … what lies within. How do we protect ourselves from being herded like mindless cattle in a world quick to condemn? What have we always known, long ago taught? Treasure independent thought. Here are 15 questions to help do that.

One: Ask yourself, as you read the news or ponder the day, do I value my own thoughts? Do I still have original thoughts, yours versus others? Question what others do not.

Two: Do you let little, crazy, hysterical stuff roll-off? Consciously distinguish big from little, just ditch the dirt, shrug at nonsense? Making that choice brings calm.

Three: Do you give yourself some “think time” from chaos, a little time each day to ponder what you think, and …time for exercise and no thinking at all?

Wrote Thomas Jefferson: “Take a great deal of exercise and on foot. Of all the exercises, walking is the best … No one knows, till he tries, how easily a habit of walking is acquired.”

Jefferson, a thinker among thinkers, added this: “Never think of taking a book with you. The object of walking is to relax the mind… Divert yourself by the objects around you.”

Four: Do you find perspective in others’ crazy talk? Sometimes, ironically, the negative proof is what we really need to see. Truth stands out against absurdity.

Five: Do you ask “What if” – but not too often? Imagination is a gift, kept close. Jefferson studied Jean-Jaques Rousseau when writing our Declaration. The two men pushed imagination in political thought, Rousseau – father of citizen sovereignty – writing: “The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

Simpler, when focused in the right direction, imagination prompts creativity. Or as Theodore Geisel, Dr. Seuss said: “I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.” 

Six:  Do you see bigness and smallness in yourself and celebrate them both? Confidence and fortitude are vital. Humility, tranquility, and gratitude are more so.

Seven: Do you find solace in nature, its patterns, and its randomness? Lessons seem to live there, ripe fruit ready for picking. For my time, nature never disappoints.

Eight:  Do uncertainties invite, or scare you? Are they opportunities to think, learn, explore, invest, believe, or a source of unease? Why did Robert Frost write, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”? Without exploring the unknown, there is no discovery, and without discovery, no growth.

Nine: Do you see hardship, discomfort, and unease as a test of yourself, a chance to get stronger, or another burden? Maybe what you resist is not a burden, but a gift.

Ten: Do you like a good, glass-rattling, sky-cracking thunderstorm, or want it gone? Sometimes being mesmerized by the majesty of it all prompts fresh thought.

Eleven:  Do you wake up optimistic, or always tired? Think more about what good you can do tomorrow as you close your eyes; you’ll be in for a surprise.

Twelve:  Do you think you might win the lottery, save a life, learn a new game or skill, see something new today, or have no chance? Hemingway: “The sun also rises.”

Thirteen: Do good memories flood back when you let them, ping pong balls pouring from the old closet, even with regrets, or do you block them? Sometimes looking back, turning up the soil, letting the good earth dirty you, reseeds the garden.

Fourteen: Can you, do you, deliberately step back, just sometimes laugh at life’s absurdity, how society schools in warm currents, no sense of direction, or just accept what others say as true, and true for you? Maybe, you know better.

Fifteen: Is there a voice within that tells you something bigger is ahead, hope and faith always outpace pain and dread? If not, give it time, and make finding that voice your personal mission. Occasionally, silence the clatter-trap world, and listen.

The attitude you carry with you decides a lot, and is shaped by independent thought – that is, the strength of your faith in what you know, in what you believe, and in what you know is not so, all tempered by a willingness to learn.

Independent thought is a great weapon, or better put, impenetrable armor, allowing you to stand atop your own island, and take in the seething sea. It is being true to you, letting you be you, and me be me.

From such things does a healthy life and nation grow – that’s the goal. Independent thought helps the weary regain their balance and fortifies the soul. Don’t let others tell you what you think. Never. Find the sanctity of your own heart and mind. Amazing … what lies within.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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Max
Max
4 days ago

RBC, enjoyed your article this morning. I reflected on the points that you brought up. I mostly enjoy walking, enjoying surrounding nature that has been given to us by the Creator. I start my day with the Father and am always in peace with Him and my Savior. Despite what is happening in the world, I know that I am with the Father always.

Melinda
Melinda
4 days ago

Good questions, many of which I can answer affirmatively. The rest are certainly tools for improvement. Relating to politics, I see little independent thought on the Democrat side, all voting in lockstep despite their possible reservations. It seems more Republicans think for themselves, revealed by constant argument. I wonder if that is a function of conservatism.

Vince
Vince
4 days ago

Thank you sir! Very good thoughts to ponder.

james carlyle
james carlyle
4 days ago

Great article, matches my experience and aspirations which I have never articulated to this extent.
Many thanks

Bryan
Bryan
4 days ago

Independent thought is ultimate freedom from being controlled by others. There is way too much of that today where people are allowing others to tell them how they feel, think and should live. And this type of mind control comes from all angles at a person. We all need to be strong enough to stand on our own and have our own thoughts so that we can engage with others in meaningful conversations. If we are all the same, speak the same, feel the same, think the same, then there is no need for conversation or interaction with others. We would all be robots walking around speaking to no one. Parents need to teach their kids to think independently and that it is alright to disagree and have a conversation. Just because we might think or talk differently doesn’t mean we hate others for their thoughts and ideas. It just means we are being independent and not being thought controlled by those who wish to control others. Stand up and be independent.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
4 days ago

These independent thoughts — get to the roots of how we understand ourselves, and from there it could be said provide what is needed to trust in ourselves. What came to mind reading these fifteen thoughts was the idea of Belief in the Individual ; Faith and the concept of Sanctity and Dignity in Human Life. all three of those ideals are part of the Principles of a Reagan Conservative . It is important to have thoughts like these — a healthy cycle can be seen by having this knowledge , to apply to situations ,when and where circumstances require their use. Independent thought — it is relatively easy to look at great historical developments , that brought good things into the world and see how independent thought had much to do with those good ideas . Respect for the spirit of how we choose to have our sense of responsibility established, for some responsibility involves managing several situations, and for others just a few, depending on their circumstances. As long as the idea of living responsibly is in practice. I do believe that would be considered part of the will of God. Number. Fourteen — having a laugh , seeing the humor of some of the absurd stuff is important — as long as it helps to stay diligent when dealing with our commitment to the values of Independent Thought . Important article RBC , it is appreciated.

uncleferd
uncleferd
3 days ago

Great article. Independent thought is the only weapon against the coerced group-think that “Democrats” employ to make the meek-minded feel “accepted”.
We evidently have well over a hundred million adults who can’t think their way through phony arguments that this fake political party has positioned to misinform all Americans about their motives.
As long as self-reliant thought takes a back seat to juvenile peer pressure, we will not have enough informed and confident voters to ensure a prosperous and safe future here in the United States. Our “political IQ regression” since the 1990’s has been astounding.

Annabelle
Annabelle
4 days ago

Uplifting article with practical points.

ppuck64
ppuck64
4 days ago

Excellent article, very thought-provoking. I believe, however, that on number ten you meant to write “mesmerized” rather than “memorized.”

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