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If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat everything like a nail.

-Abraham Maslow

 

From artistic to political discourse, pronouncements and denouncements clamor and frequently hammer for our attention. We are in danger of having our own valuable, independent thinking snuffed out by those who have appointed themselves arbiters and conduits of how we should think. Not everything fits neatly into the confinement of dictatorial, often old-hat, important-sounding but insufficiently nuanced language. One word or slogan does not fit all.

Words count and therefore need to be examined. Those used sweepingly and inaccurately, should be discounted. There is seldom only one way of seeing things because many situations are complex. In politics, in commerce, in the arts and in many more fields, we see the specificity of language being reduced to simplistic categories, often repeated with the intention of  reducing any diversity of independent thinking. Life, with all its ongoing vicissitudes, is ambiguous; one size does not fit all and prescriptive, dictatorial language dealing only in certitudes, crunches creative and independent thought.

Our lives are busy. It has become increasingly hard to find the time to think for ourselves.  We are being bombarded constantly by information, disinformation, and controlled categories and sound bites: “Leaders, educators, the media, marketers, slot and slot a lot. They mainstream, genre and sub-genre, often arbitrarily. They make something small into something big – useful for marketing but artificial because of its disconnection from the wider picture. Taught to pigeonhole their thinking, they then have categorical apartheid, severed from the whole, separate and therefore inferior.” (HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HUNCH? The Importance of Independent Thinking).

Diversity of thought is essential for individual creativity as well as for productive, positive societies. Limited thinking is a danger; thought patrols, wishing to disallow any type of thinking they haven’t approved or prescribed, have their own agendas. Let’s make sure that we retain and hone our own abilities to be flexible and thoughtful thinkers. Let’s choose to be agile, curious researchers and creators, trusting  our own intuitions and hunches because they are part of our individual experiences and independent of mind-numbing group thought.