The United States of America has so much volatile rhetoric streaming out of our televisions, computers and phones daily, hourly, by the minute, that our society is writhing in divisive drama that puts the very foundation of our nation in serious trouble. What the media won’t tell you, nor will anyone who depends on your unhappiness for survival, is that the solution to every single problem in society today is simple — think for yourself.

Since the days of yellow journalism in the 19th Century when William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer launched their sensationalism battle for readers, the media has been on a never-ending mission to gain your attention, ergo advertiser and subscriber dollars. The 24-hour news cycle and expansion into social media increased the demand for the ‘juicy stuff’ ten fold and now every waking hour is packed with drama, and the intensity of the headlines and clickbait titles has become more dramatic as more and more people figure out how to monetize off the chaos which ensues.

Think about it. When any single thing happens, how do you find out about it and what drives your opinion of it? How informed are you before you react? What do you really know before you make up your mind about how you feel about it? Really. Think. 

For example, the current top headline right in front of me as I write this is that classified material has been found at personal residences of the President of the United States. The immediate undisputed fact — Classified materials were found where classified materials are not supposed to be stored. As a former Marine who had Secret clearance in the military, my immediate reaction is pretty intense because I know how serious this infraction is, and I know how much trouble I would be in if it were associated with me. I know there is a reason it was assigned the label “Classified” and typically it’s because the contents are incredibly sensitive. We deemed material “Classified” often because it had life or death consequences, or there were inherent serious dangers if the information the fell into the wrong hands. 

So, let us analyze how this event has been delivered to you. First, for those applying a critical thinking eye, there is very recent historical precedence set with an armed raid of a former President to gain classified materials. Fact — classified materials were at a personal residence and it was important enough to rate an armed FBI raid. That tells us that our government takes the security of classified material seriously. Then, the current President has classified material at multiple residences, however none of those received the same attention or treatment.

The difference was in how we received the information. Media and social media delivered the pieces they wanted you to hear based on their political biases and wrapped them with all the adjectives to spice it up to spin you up. These various “news and information” sources deliver the content in a way that will both hype up the event to draw you to their channel and serve their purposes to ensure it aligns with whatever agenda they have sold you and drives their reputation. 

The key to your happiness is your own inherent ability to use your own brain. Dr. Seuss wrote it best — “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” Perhaps that should be mandatory reading for us to revisit for life? One of the most famous quotes from the book is “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” Don’t allow the media and others who make their money riling us up think your thinks. Do your own homework. And even as you are doing your research, understand the resource you are using to gain that information. Who wrote it? What is their motivation to provide the information and what kind of resources and expertise did they employ to deliver that information? Pay close attention to adjectives used and absolute, undisputed facts used to support their conclusions. I think you will find that at least 80% of the information conveyed is opinion-driven and is rarely presented without bias for you to use your own critical think cap to make your own conclusions. 

I am no expert in the Classified materials debate, despite my military background, but I can share with you what kind of critical thinking I used as I am imploring you to do on your own before you react. My own critical thinking on the matter was influenced by historical precedence. A man has a long track record in written, video and audio publications of fabricating stories, plagiarism, and incredibly questionable, documented history in divisive politics. All of these have led to bumps in this man’s political career, including two previous unsuccessful campaigns for President. That influences my opinion of his character and the likelihood that he may have done something that broke the rules or that his morals don’t align with mine. Additionally, I know that millions of voters, i.e. potential audience members, who are incredibly active in promoting diversity and fighting against racism voted for an old white man who spent his entire career as part of the system they purport despise, even garnering more votes than America’s first black President. So, I assume the political landscape is likely to remain unfazed and the media reaction is predictable. Therefore, the existence of classified materials at his residence is not a surprise nor does it change my opinion or life in any way because it aligns with the status quo. 

We have witnessed the type of attention the current President is going to get from the majority of main stream media, and others who can monetize the drama, since his Presidential campaign… or lack thereof. It depends on what your critical thinking journey led to when COVID kept him “underground” and he could barely get a word in during the one debate for which he took the stage. See my future article “Trump beat Trump.”

The truth is, we have witnessed cities burning in “peaceful protest” and a Capitol sieged by gun-owning “insurrectionists” with no guns. We have witnessed a war come to a deadly end with babies being thrown over razor wire, people executed in the streets, tens of thousands of Americans and close allies left behind with their lives at risk, and decades of work paid for in bloodshed being abandoned, while we were also told there was no chaos involved in the strategic withdraw per the bird’s eye view from the “perch” at the Pentagon. We have witnessed millions of people pouring into our country to seek asylum if one political party transports them to various cities, but political pawns if another does it. My critical thinking brain ponders often if these new immigrants to this “free” country notice how much it is actually beginning to resemble the country they just escaped. 

While our media doesn’t quite fit the definition of  “state-run media,” if you follow the money and the ultimate agenda behind every story, they kinda do. And while we claim to be a free Republic driven by capitalism, look up the definitions of Socialism and Communism and use your critical thinking skills to compare those philosophies to what is happening in our government today. Next, look up other countries with those philosophies and their track records and success rate. Use your own critical thinking to decide the kind of life that you prefer.      

Think your own thinks. It may not save the failing Republic, but at least you’ll be better educated for the road ahead no matter who paved it.