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Why Thinking for Yourself is Necessary

“Think for yourself, or others will think for you without thinking of you.”

—Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau’s words resonate with me. I’m not writing about the everyday thinking that we all do. Thinking is one of the things that makes us human. We think about today and what we should and should not do. We think about tomorrow, and sometimes we think about yesterday and even maybe ten years ago. There is no shortage of everyday things to think about.

My concern is the thinking we do or not do about the major issues that face our society and our world. Too many people are allowing someone else to do their thinking for them when the big issues of the day come into focus. Take climate change for instance. As Natasha Kassulke and I argue in our book, Planting an Idea: Critical and Creative Thinking About Environmental Issues (Fulcrum Press, 2023), environmental issues demand that each of us take some responsibility for doing some personal thinking about the host of environmental challenges facing our society, especially Climate Change. We cannot let others do our thinking for us, especially those who are climate change deniers—people who argue with half truths and out and out lies, and stories created out of whole cloth with no semblance to reality.

It’s not just your everyday, rather shallow “once over quickly” kind of thinking, that I am advocating. I am suggesting each one of us has the responsibility, and the ability (sometimes with a little help) to do both critical and creative thinking. The solution to the environmental challenges the country faces requires that we should all be involved in doing critical and creative thinking. Every last one of us. Not merely the elected officials, and the environmental groups, and those individuals with an interest in these challenges. Each of us can and must become involved.

Too often these days, environmental issues have become political issues. Climate change and a host of other environmental changes are not political issues, they are everyone’s issues, no matter what your political learning, religious affiliation, economic status, or the color of your skin. It is not difficult to assume that unless each and every one of us doesn’t do our own critical and creative thinking to help solve these problems—this country, and the planet will be in dire straits.

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