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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Beware of popular thinking

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Dear editor,

Since a lot of people are liking, doing or saying this or that thing, then it must be right or a very good idea. If most people accept it, then it probably represents fairness, equality, sensitivity. Right? Not necessarily. Popular thinking is not necessarily right or absolutely good.

History has revealed with the passage of time that popular thinking has not necessarily been always right. Popular thinking was that the earth was the center of the universe until Copernicus came along and proved that everything revolves around the sun. Popular thinking was that the earth was flat but we now know it is spherical. Popular thinking was that HIV was a curse from God but medical science has now taught us its modes of transmission. Popular thinking is that a goat or cow must eat where it is tethered and that has birthed us corruption. Popular thinking is that you don’t oppose your leader but democracy has told us that if you don’t want to be criticized “be nothing, say nothing, do nothing”. We know where that popular thinking had led us. Into the dark alley of human infamy.

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“Popular thinking”, going along with the crowd, inability to think outside the box, taking satisfaction in convention or customs, inability to question/analyse/disprove, taking comfort in easy thinking. It is safe and secure to go along- upsetting the apple cart or stirring the hornet’s nest will make you unpopular. We believe that what the majority thinks or says is what is right.

We are advised by the gurus to “think before we follow”. Sometime we follow because we fear rejection or take the path of least resistance. We are afraid of being drawn out of our comfort zones. Thus, we follow the majority. We like posts on Facebook because many have liked it. We support arguments because majority either are in support or opposed to it. We follow the crowd sheepishly. We are even afraid to create our own path, find our own voice, take our own chair to the table smash the table altogether, or be the cat amongst so called pigeons. There is smug comfort in following the crowd but you lose your soul, mind and conscience in the process.

But if we want to be critical beings who are successful, we need to think what is best, not what is popular. Engaging in that exercise would require questioning the status quo and customs and conventions. But it would also require the readiness to be unpopular, the ability to have a thick skin and still keep one’s head. Swimming against the tide would mean the possession of endurance, the skills to survive the gnawing teeth of sharks, the ability to keep on course regardless.

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Think for yourself. You may stand alone but you would be standing on solid foundation.

Be critical. Be analytical…Be a thinking being.

Don’t allow your thinking to be done by others….

Know that only dead fish swim with the tide…

Be a Mmajiki, a creative maladjusted nonconformist. Show me a revolutionary and I will show you one who refused to swim with the current.

Njundu Drammeh


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