Grace to you!
Did you notice that groupthink has become a major occurrence in public discussions nowadays? Groupthink is a phenomenon wherein people do not critically think through a particular line of thought against possible alternatives before they hold onto that position. It is like following the crowd or the uncritical masses – mob action.
Have you seen any of the interviews in the program featured on The O’Reilly Factor called “Watter’s World?” The answers many people give to simple questions and the positions they take show how many people are clueless; how many are victims of groupthink.
The danger of groupthink is that it makes people live with biases and hinders their ability to think straight or even think their own thoughts. The “cool” driven pattern of life – those who follow the in-fashion, forgetting that fashion fades but style doesn’t, is an instance of groupthink.
I would give you an example of someone who overcame groupthink and furnished the world with one of the most cherished original thoughts for centuries. His name is Thomas Aquinas, and for us Catholics he is a Canonized Saint, someone officially recognized and proclaimed by the church as having lived a holy life and is in heaven.
Born in Southern Italy around1225 he died in 1274. His parents wanted him to be a Benedictine Abbot (that is, a leader of the religious group who were very influential in Italy at the time called The Benedictines); but from childhood, he wanted to do what he was convinced was God’s will for him. He began to fight groupthink from childhood.
Thus, he became a Dominican – the religious Order formed by St. Dominic whose mission is preaching the word of God. This choice entailed more reading for young Thomas.
In school, Thomas’ classmates nicknamed him “The Dumb Ox” because he sparingly talked in class. Some even thought he was a simpleton. But they didn’t know he was weighing every argument in class and taking in so much information from both sides of any argument so as to have an informed opinion. His teacher, who later became known as St. Albert the Great, predicted before Aquinas’s fellow students that Aquinas would be a renowned academic in the future. His prediction came to fruition because two of the major works of St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia and Summa Contra gentiles which ran in numerous volumes in addition to thousands of other writings, turned out to dominate philosophical and theological discussions for close to 600 years. They are still, for the most part, relevant today.
The secret of his success lies in using the reason that God gave him well. In rejection of groupthink, he always liked to listen to and present opposing views and using the wisdom God gave us, he offered an argument that brings out the true reality of things. He attributed this to the wisdom of God, which the bible tells us is more valuable than silver and gold, scepters and thrones. (Wisdom 7:8).
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask for that wisdom today, and be equipped to combat groupthink head-on.
God love you. God bless you.