Critical thinking is the order of the day

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Ours is a young society from what government statistics keep telling us. The population swing is in favor of the youth who make up a sizeable majority of the population. These young people have to be directed and their energies and focus channeled toward contributing to a prosperous and stable future for themselves and the country.

At a recent gathering, the issue of freethinking among our youth came up. Some parents were bemoaning the trend of robot-like behavior in the speech and thought processes of their young. And they were worried that so much of this behavior seemed to be negative.

Our society has undergone so much transformation in the past three decades, some for the better and some for the worse, and now it looks to its youth with questions. Where did we go wrong?

As parents, the bulk of responsibility for the behavior of our youth must rest squarely on our shoulders. No government laws or Shoura Council legislature can be designed to enforce the kind of upbringing that breeds positive results alone. Parents play a major role in this evolving struggle.

And parents are often at fault. One thing that children need to be taught is that they have the right to ask questions about why something is being done. Apart from neglect or preoccupation in other matters, here too parents have failed their children. It may be expedient to blame the educational system for such faults. And, yes, there are a number of faults there that need to be examined and questioned. In recent times though, there have been substantial efforts to reengineer the educational approach.

But such trends often begin at home. It starts with not encouraging a freethinking spirit in children. A total submission to authority is drummed into them from their childhood; a submission that may be right or wrong. While respect for elders and the learned is a good thing, it should not be cast in concrete.

This is because elders, like our youth, can be misguided. They can have undefined agendas that may not translate into a positive source of inspiration. If the behavior of our young people today is any indication of our ills, quite a few of them may have fallen into such a trap.

Perhaps parents have allowed others to do the thinking for them and are victims in this dilemma themselves. However, to deny their children the right to question, the right to ask why, the right to challenge what they perceive as wrong will not yield changes for the better. And in the dynamism of the world in the present day, we must learn to swim on our own and quickly or we shall drown.

Let us not suppress these young minds with holier-than-thou lectures, or with sermons from when time began. Let us deal with them in real time and discuss real issues with them. Let us educate them to live as citizens of this planet, to go beyond our borders, to seek knowledge wherever it may be, and to accept that as Earth’s citizens, we are not all the same, and that no one is to be blindly judged as better than anyone else. And finally, that the differences between us and the other people of this world are not life threatening.

It is when we shower our children with such support, that they will learn to define their positive roles. A freethinking society does not start from nowhere. Authoritarian rules in the upbringing of children have no place at home.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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