Take a second and think of any survival movie or show you have ever seen… Little House one the Prairie, the show Turn, 12 Years a Slave, White Fang, The Road, Cast Away, Jeremiah Johnson, Alive, and hundreds of others. These show a number of important traits it takes to live through emergencies and situations where we only have ourselves to depend on.
The critical trait I want to speak to is being able to critically think through difficult situations. If you are reading this post, you probably have already practiced thinking a head and becoming prepared. However, many people lack the skills to be able to critically think.
P.S. Jeremiah Johnson is a serious bad a**. Make some time to watch this movie!
Why are we less able to critically think?
There are many potential reasons that this doesn’t happen naturally. It could be our school systems feeding information to students, a lack of diversity in our researchers and academics, or a lack of needing to know how to think critically in our modern society, but either way our society has bred a lot of followers.
In my opinion, the larger problem lies with our ability to find and grab hoards of information immediately (not always very accurate). We have a generation of people who are used to being fed their information through social media. Why look else where when you have hundreds of posts showing what’s happening in the world? And since you have so many agreeable posts, it’s hard to imagine that there is other information out there. Or it begins to appear that the other information is the “obviously” wrong. Most people who DO end up googling for information don’t even make it past the first three or four sites.
To complicate the issue, we now have algorithms that show you information that you may be more interested in. So slowly you are being filtered the same information or the same view point over and over again. If you agreed with this one point, why wouldn’t you be interested in it again?! It ends up creating a hoard of people who only like to hear arguments that are agreeable to their own view points, and think that the entire world agrees with their own thoughts… I mean, everyone else is posting this same idea, right?
Well no, they’re not.
Critically thinking allows you to work through difficult situations
You may be thinking, well sure, but what does this have to do with being prepared or becoming a homesteader? People who cannot be creative enough to look at a problem in a new way will not be able to thrive in a survival situation. There are too many scenarios to have a formula for every possibility.
Think about the tsunami that hit Thailand. Even when the warning signs of a tsunami were blatantly clear, many tourists stayed on the beach. Not only did they not know the signs, they figured if so many people were still on the beach, they were fine.
We can use the attacks on 9/11 as an example of critical thinking. Two planes of people were afraid and were unsuccessful in stopping the plane high jackers. A third plane was able to stand up and think through the situation. They stopped the high jackers and kept the plane from hurting anyone. Unfortunately those brave heroes were unable to land the plane safely.
Hurricane Katrina was another disaster where people assumed the levies would not break. As another example, the Titanic would not have been such a disaster if people prepared adequately. Everyone involved just assumed it would never sink… I mean why put the correct amount of life boats on an unsinkable ship? This type of “following” mentality happens when there is an active shooter. We assume if we follow the directions everything will be okay.
But life is not like that. We have to be prepared to do critical thinking. This doesn’t mean to jump in and make rash decisions. It means using your head. What do you have access to? How have you prepared? Who all is involved? What are the weaknesses and strengths of the situation in you are in? What is the next best move? A homesteader might ask, “What do I need to do now, to ensure that I can provide for next year?”
Becoming critical thinkers
Unfortunately these questions can not all be prepared for. BUT we can practice critical thinking skills on a daily basis. Our bodies like to stay on the course of least resistance. If we eat junk food all the time, it’s difficult to have an appetite for healthy food. If we never do cardio, our bodies struggle to bring in enough oxygen. If we do not practice with numbers, we slowly loose our ability to compute quickly. If we do not practice a musical instrument, we loose our ability to match tones and pitches.
The same things occurs with thinking. If we practice learning information from multiple view points, thinking through situations, empathizing with other people, learning new information, read several accounts of the same event, listen to people who are different from ourselves, communicate our own ideas without being abrasive, and actively participate in becoming self-reliant, we can train our minds to be more agile. We do not have to settle to be “sheep ready for the slaughter,” during an emergency situation.
Or perhaps an even more important reason for being a critical thinker: we become contributors to society. Not just Facebook “reposters.”
Practicing your mental skills may be one of the most helpful practices you complete to become more prepared and ready for whatever life throws your way.