Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Think! by Michael LeGault...

Think by Michael LeGault is one of the more interesting books I've read in a while.

The premise of this book reminded me of a story I read about a world famous heart surgeon whose good friend had a terrible heart condition for which there was no known treatment or surgery. The friend asked the surgeon if he would pray about it and perform surgery anyway. The friend was convinced that the surgeon would see a way to save his heart and subsequently his life. That is just what happened. When the heart surgeon opened his friends chest and looked at the damaged heart he saw a diagram in his mind of how to repair his friend's heart, which he successfully did. His friend lived to regain health and the pioneering surgery saved the lives of many others.
However, had most of us opened up a chest with a damaged heart, I don't believe that we would have been so inspired because, we do not have the many years of training and education that this world famous heart surgeon had. Inspiration follows preparation, therefore we must think. We must develop the critical thinking skills that will prepare us to be inspired.
Our culture has in many ways lost it's ability to think critically. We tell ourselves that we don't have the time. It takes less time to be gullible and so we believe selectively based on our gut, the things we read, hear or see on TV. There are too few reporters like John Stossel out there debunking the bunk.
For instance just before graduating university, I worked in the counseling office of a local high school. The school district had constructed a policy prohibiting all school clubs and the students were upset maintaining that they needed those extracurricular activities on college applications. The students along with some teachers staged a peaceful protest. A few hundred students walked peacefully across the street with some faculty and a few poster board signs and stood there for about 35 minutes. I watched it all from the window. During the time of the protest, I received a call in my office from a local television reporter who asked me for a statement. I was not an authorized spokesperson for the school or the district and so I declined. A few moments later the phone lines at the school went berserk and I learned that this journalist was reporting a "riot" at the school. I have since decided to be skeptical about what is reported by the media.
LeGault writes about the differences between healthy skepticism (I will believe when something is proven) and cynicism (I will believe nothing). He talks about the dangers of "reckless generalizations" often the basis of racial prejudice and junk science including scientific fear mongering. He also discusses the important topic of "conceding the act of governing" which is something that concerns me very much. When we get the idea, so different from our founders definition of liberty, that our government needs to take care of us in every way and we give away our liberties and truly our ability for great achievement in order to "have done for us" we are at risk as a nation.
I didn't think LeGault was right on the money on every page of this book. He will have to prove some of his thesis to me. However, I do believe that there are things that are really and truly true. There are facts that can be depended on and we need to prepare our minds to find those facts and as a generation of Americans to expand on and improve the body of knowledge that exists in our world. I also believe that the ability to think and to learn, and the desire for knowledge are a spiritual quest. Like a healthy body that must be fed nutritious foods, a mind must be fed real substance to thrive. If we feed our bodies on Mars Bars and Snowballs, we are soon weak and sick, likewise our minds must be fed not junk, but from the best books we can find. A quest to be more thoughtful, wise, graceful and a search for what is honest and true are, I believe, one of the qualities that can make a man most like God.