Think for Yourself
"What luck for leaders that men do not think."
It's rumored that Adolf Hitler once said, "What luck for leaders that men do not think." Scholars debate the authorship of this quote but if this is true, then, it's no surprise he was so effective as a dictator, and you can see why the quote was attached to such a dangerous man. Hitler could do whatever he wanted, take over any country that pleased him, and subjected his people to many atrocities. However, the authorship of this quote remains a mystery but for obvious reason, the quote has been attached to Hitler. It shows the dangers of blinding following along like sheep while monstrous events take place around you. Clearly, you, as an individual, are at your weakest when you do not think for yourself and let your government leaders think for you.
I encourage all my students to critically think about the material, and every term, I, too, review the topics to ensure proper understanding and evaluation seeps through each blog, lectures, and article I write.
I've spent much time in Germany and witnessed first hand the disgust Germans feel for Adolf Hitler, just as we Americans feel disgusted towards certain events and leaders in our history. There's a need not to repeat the past, and an encouragement to band together when the government tries 'sneak one past us'. As an instructor of Philosophy, critical thinking is the cornerstone by which all philosophical topics resonant.
Two thousand years ago, Socrates demanded his pupils not only examine their laws and customs but examine their own beliefs and truths as well. His teachings were so threatening to the government they executed him on the grounds of poisoning the youth. At times, it appears our own society doesn't have time to think for themselves. Those who slowly take their time to think about matters are inconveniencing the rest of us. They aren't scrolling fast enough, replying fast enough, nor are they jumping on the bandwagon. We no longer live in a society built for the slowpokes; it needs to be now, it needs to be instant, and it needs to be quick! 24-hour news programs flash feed us the headlines, tweets dictate truths in 140 characters or less, and unsubstantiated facts fill our newsfeed and rarely do we have time to fact-check them. Those who take the time to think for themselves are scorned and ridiculed. They are deemed grouchy and usually nicknamed 'that one person who brings down the room'. In essence, they are steamed rolled by the passing zombie horde staring at their phones.
It bothers me as an instructor to see my students rushing through the material and posting comments as quickly as they can, just be over with the class. College used to cultivate thought, enhance creative thinking, and promote innovated ideas that could change the future! Now, students are so bogged down with work constraints, family obligations, and the strain of a full course load, it takes everything they have to just comment and move on to the next class. If instructors demanded students live up to the old standard their enrollment numbers fall off in an instant. Most students seek courses with smaller workloads due to lifestyle constraints. We now enter a loop of poor instruction and passive students. College becomes all about the end game and the means by which you succeed are no longer important. Students need to push ahead, critically, in all their material and hold themselves up to the old standard, and the instructors must take an active role in their student's education, not merely grade for word counts, replies, and tardiness. If we do not encourage, support, and allow our students time to mature academically, we fail them, ourselves, and the future of our society.
The scary thing about that quote is not who said it but, the implication of the quote period. We have to return to an academic environment that holds the instructor, and the student, accountable for their own failures and successes. We have to return to a time when intelligence and critically thinking matter more than the status quo.