Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oh Where, Oh Where Has the Critical Thinking Gone?

Oh where, oh where could it be?

It's there...underneath the layers of comfort and blissful ignorance we all build up around us. Those layers seemingly protect us from all that would make us ache and blush sheepishly as we realize just how wrong we might be about so very many things. And, believe me, I understand how good it feels to stay cuddled up in their folds, but I implore you to shed your shroud and stand naked among the many truths that surround you.

It will feel cold. You may shiver and huddle with those nearby for warmth and reassuring comfort. Eventually, though, as you allow yourself to step away and feel those truths, to touch them and allow them to touch you, you'll find a new warmth. This warmth, however, will come from the fire that is inside of you. And once that fire has been lit, once you have been ignited internally, you'll stay forever warm without the need of those external, false comforts.

I fancy myself a critical thinker and I actually really enjoy when someone challenges my thought processes to the point that I shake off my veil and feel naked. Don't get me wrong, I don't like it at the time. Like I said, it's uncomfortable and cold. I feel embarrassed and self-conscious. I try to blame the other person for trying to steal my covers. I rail against the truth and the teller. "No! That can't be true, because I don't accept it as true and I'm a critical thinker, damn it!"

This happened a little over a year ago when I was a brand new page. I made some sort of statement like, "Intactivist Confession: I don't hate Mayim Bialik." Boy, did that cause a ruckus. It caused more of a ruckus in me, though. Several people hopped on the bandwagon I built, either because they agreed or because, unfortunately, some people see bloggers they enjoy as gurus and gods and they'll agree with anything we say. That makes me sad. It made me particularly sad in this case, because I was wrong. No, I was not wrong to decline to "hate" her. I was, however, wrong as I went on to explain that while I disagree with what she has done to her sons (she circumcised her sons, justifies her decision as one of religion, but says that she does not agree with it if not done for religious reasons - lack of critical thinking example #4799227), I thought she was a wonderful spokesperson for the AP community despite that one fault. So, so many agreed with me. A few politely disagreed. I lost a couple fans. I was holding my own, though. I was doing so well through that discussion. Until Devon. Devon from Boys Deserve Better, a well-respected member of the genital integrity advocate community and now-friend, asked me, "Amy, would you still say all this if she had circumcised her girls." Boom. Off came my comfy blankets and whoosh went the fire of truth inside of my gut. No. Of course, I wouldn't feel the same if her children had been girls. Duh.

Now, not always is it that fast for me. Sometimes, I have to sit in front of those uncomfortable truths buried snugly in the midst of my circle of protective friends and family for days, weeks, months, and yes, even years before I realize what a fool I've been. I've been there more often than anyone here can probably imagine. And I am intelligent enough to recognize that I am probably still there in regards to some things. I am also intelligent and critically-thinking enough to understand that this is OK, mindful, human, and temporary. I will continue to grow. I will continue to dig deep. I will continue to get honest with myself and others. And that's all that I ask of you. Dig deep. Get honest. Shed your layers with me. They're fake warmth. Let the fire light within you and never be cold again.

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