Strenthening the ability to think and to say what you think

I am rewriting this post and I’ll explain why. Part of me likes to get the author’s words down as accurately as possible. That’s the part of me that wrote before. Another part of me listens closely to what is being said and responds to the meaning that’s there. That’s the part that’s important to this blog.

The interview with Carolyn Glick (titled “The Universities of the West Have Turned into a Parallel Planet”) conveyed to me the importance of being able to think and say what I think.

Listen to a few of her key statements:

“The universities are living in a bubble, cut off from real life. The academic elite is engaged in brainwashing. Students are learning the narrative of the left against the West. They’re not learning history.”

Whether you agree or disagree with this statement, it’s worth checking out. History is critically important. Only by understanding what went on in history can we have a point of reference for understanding what is happening now.

“You can’t gain knowledge while being in a bubble. The bubble can be in New York or Givatayim. It doesn’t matter where. Whenever people living in a bubble try to control the lives of people not living in that bubble the results are always the same.”

How would you continue this thought? It seems to me that true leaders absolutely must understand the lives of the people they’re trying to lead.

“There is a situation of intellectual terror. If you express opinions based on reality you are attacked. And these opinions are actually the opinion of the majority of Israelis and also the majority of Americans but not only do they not get media coverage. They are also criminalized and de-legitimized.”

I’m not setting out to bring all of the examples that would back this up. Here I’m only sharing my feelings. But the accumulated experience of all that I’ve read and seen leads me to feel this way too. What worries is not that people think differently about what needs to be done. What worries me is that people are not seeing the same reality.

“There is a lot we can do. Latma is a project that is doing something. More and more people have to oppose this hegemony. The population has to acquire the sense that they can express what they think. We watch television and see people who don’t reflect our values or our reality and yet we accept what they say. You don’t need to be a big expert in order to know that the Palestinians want to kill us. Most Israelis understand that the concept of land for peace leads to the murder of Jews. There is theft, the law is not implemented, people see what’s going on. There was a pogrom in Acre. They wanted to indict Shai Dromi for murder because he defended himself. Most people understand that this is simply nuts.”

It is dangerous when a population cannot express what they think and worse, don’t even have a mind of their own because they are swallowing what is reported by people “who don’t reflect our values or our reality.” Again it comes back to: What is reality? What is really going on? If we can’t get the facts from the general media we have a responsibility to get the facts from people who are really reporting the facts. She talks about Israelis and Americans as people who think. I agree.

“Why does the American press hate Sara Palin so much, who walks around with an American flag? Because she represents an alternative. She represents the “regular” people. People are drawn to the truth. Israel does not have to show the world its pretty girls and beaches and restaurants in Tel Aviv. The truth is, we are at the front in a world battle against Islamic barbarism that wants to wipe out everything good. When you tell people this in a straight way they say, “Wow, you’re right.” All of the settlements are an irrelevant issue. The people we are fighting are barbarians. This is how they behave and they have weapons of destruction to further their barbarianism. People understand this. When was the last time you heard an Israeli say this to the world?”

There are voices out there. In this interview she’s expressing her desire to strengthen those voices. In the end she talks about the conflict among ourselves and how destructive it is.

This is our biggest challenge. There are actually two possibly conflicting messages in this article. a) We have to say what we think and b) We can’t be at each others throats while we’re saying it. The only way to get there is for everyone alike to stop speaking in slogans but instead to look all of the facts straight in the face and then examine and talk about those facts in a detached way as they are laid out on the table, with the sole aim of working together to clarify the truth, without any self-interest, without caring who will be proven right or wrong in the end. Our existence depends upon it.

Batya Yaniger

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2 Responses to Strenthening the ability to think and to say what you think

  1. Shel says:

    With all due respect, there is much in this interview which itself reflects an inability or a refusal to think critically. The interviewee is repeating many slogans from the right without actually bringing much or any proof of his assertions. He is lumping all intellectuals together as being puppets of some unnamed elite whose power base is Hollywood and Broadway? Sounds a little paranoiac?

    I honestly don’t think the problem is ‘the left’ or ‘the right’ but rather it is connected to a tendency on the part of people from across the political spectrum to lose their ability (or to not develop their ability) to think critically.

    • You’re right that this is a much more basic problem and the right are in need of critical thinking as much as the left. What I do agree about in the article is that people are living very isolated lives and don’t see each other’s reality. And I don’t have the sense that the media or government is interested in hearing what the right have to say.

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