Critical Thinking in Our Daily Lives

While writing this paper, I could not help but think about the fact that this was the first time in my writing career that I had been asked to create a critical profile of myself. Thinking critically about life is hard enough but to think critically about myself? That would take a lot of soul searching and when searching one’s soul, sometimes the truth hurts. In writing this paper, I found out some things about myself, some good and some not nice.

I graduated from college last year and sometimes it is hard for me to believe that I have come this far. When I started college, I told myself that I would not turn into a snobbish intellectual, brimming over with confidence but alas, I changed and although most of the change is good, the intellectual snob (the one I was not suppose to be) in me is dying for a chance to spew some of her beliefs about society. But after four years in college, I could not help but change as a person. The college experience does that sometimes. I truly believe that if an individual goes to college for four years, graduates and do not feel that he or she has changed as a person, the money he or she spent on tuition was totally wasted.

I learned to analyze information, even information that was diametrically opposed to my personal beliefs and values. Learning to think critically about different ideas was one of the best things that happened to me because I have a tendency to take things personally and in learning to think critically, I learned that the world is not against me but has the right to have an opinion opposite of mine. Although information that is opposed to my beliefs might make me angry, it makes me think and that is a good thing.

I have learned to evaluate my beliefs and have the courage to change my former viewpoints. At one time in my life, I was totally for the existence of the death penalty. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth was my motto, and I felt glee at the mention of anyone who was put to death for a heinous crime. Now, I feel that the death penalty should be totally abolished and that any criminal on Death Row should have his or her sentence commuted to life in prison. Justice in American society for the most part is not for everyone but those who have the material means to escape persecution from the law.

A large portion of prisoners on Death Row are poor minorities and no matter what way you look at it, this is an example of the systematic racism that has gone on for hundreds of years in American society. As long as American society suffers from systematic racism, the justice system cannot hand out Death Row sentences. How can a society that pretends that racism does not exist but practices it everyday be in charge of someone’s life? Locking someone up in a prison cell for the rest of their life, not seeing or speaking with anyone will give the hardest killer a chance to reflect on the things he or she has done. In the end, the only one that can stand judgments is God.

Just for me to change my opinion on the death penalty lets me know that I can change my beliefs about certain things. For me to go from one extreme belief to another tells me that the critical thinking skills I have acquired in college have done me some good. My biggest strengths are the ability to keep an open mind about life and the ability to persevere in spite of whatever obstacle that might be in my path. Two years ago, I had some physical problems that resulted in me missing two weeks of school. Since missing one day out of college is like missing one week, I really thought about petitioning for a leave of absence since it was too late in the semester for me to withdraw from school. The two weeks I spent at home recuperating from my illness were one of the most depressing times of my life while I stressed out about my classes. In the end, I went back to school and to my surprise, I did not miss that much while I was out. At the end of the spring term, I received three A’s, one B and a C. Thank God I did not do something stupid like withdraw from school.

My weaknesses are empathizing too much with other people’s problems and not having the courage sometimes to stand up for myself. As a former Sociology major, I find myself filled with anger at many injustices that go on in the world. I watched the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina everyday on television for two weeks straight and was in tears the entire time. The pictures of human misery in my country (the richest in the world) made me feel contempt for the impotency of my government and the fear that if something like that occurred in Chicago, I would be in the same boat as the victims of Hurricane Katrina. For the first time, while watching a tragedy unfold, the victims had my skin color and economic background. These were my people being treated like crap for the entire world to see. It hurts to see how little American society cares for people if they are poor and Black, especially when you are poor and Black.

I plan on working on standing up for myself. Since there seems not to be a voice for the many poor Blacks that live in this society, I will be the voice. That sounds arrogant but I do not care, who will? It is time for me to take a stand on something instead of passively sitting around, waiting for someone else to do it for me. I might not be able to change the world, but if I can make a difference in the life of someone, I know that my time on this planet has been worth something. Instead of being angry all of the time, I will put my anger to good use.

Most of my friends and family think I have become a radical, racist maniac since I graduated from college and do not share any of my beliefs. Since graduating, I have learned so much about the society I live in and it makes me angry that millions of children are being cheated out of learning about the true history of this country. I am not a racist but I have learned not to believe everything the media tells me about minorities in this country. I learned that although the history of African-Americans is one filled with pain, we are survivors and have much to be proud of. In our veins, flow the blood of kings and queens who fought and died for their beliefs and who would be saddened by the state of their descendants who have forgotten where they come from. I refuse to one of those who have forgotten. If bragging about the history of my people makes me a racist, and not believing everything negative about my people makes me a racist, then I am a racist.

My biggest “hot button” issues are racism and sexism. I hate when people pretend that racism does not exist when you can turn on your television and see nothing but Whites on, as if other ethnic groups do not exist. I cannot stand to hear men talk about how women do not know “their place” anymore as if the only things women were made for were sex and cooking. I hate to see women dog each other out about issues that were created by the patriarchal society we live in that keeps women at each over throats over men. I do try to change other people’s opinions about certain topics but for the most part, I just listen and try to keep an open mind. Even if their opinions are not like mine, they have the right to have them.

Three current topics that I favor at time are sexism, racism, the economy, and the state of poor minorities in this country. My favorite sources of information on these subjects are the many internet blogs that exist, the newspapers and different non-fiction and fiction books I have to find. The internet blogs are the best information because they consist of different opinions from a multitude of people. After reading some of these blogs, I know that there are a lot of woefully ignorant people in the world who do not have a clue about what is going on except for what they see on Fox News.

Critical thinking skills are particularly needed in this society since there is so much “misinformation” about historical and current events. The media and the government seem to be in league with each to keep Americans misinformed about the economy, racism, and society at large. I guess I have turned into an intellectual snob, but I think it is for the best. I do have an active contempt for anyone who does not value an education, particularly if you a minority. For too many years, education was denied to us and even if the schools minorities attend are not as good as those attended by the majority, an individual should still go. This society is setup for the advancement of those with an education. Those who do not have an education will be left behind. I am glad I figured that out sooner than later.

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Kathy Henry

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