By: S. Costa Franco
Standards, rules, expectations. We are constantly bombarded by these aspects created by society, that we are supposed to adhere to, without even asking why, a blind acceptance of regulations and 'ideals'. This has been an issue for many thousands of years, and although improvements have been seen, there is still so much we can work on.
During the medieval period of Western Europe, this was a very prominent problem, especially concerning the extreme power of the church, the monarchy, and the control that the general hierarchy had upon society. However, with the rise of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment period, as well as many great philosophers such as French scientist and Mathematician René Descartes, citizens began to understand the importance of questioning what we are told and not merely accepting it, so we can all form our values and beliefs. Descartes himself said, "I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am." Many forget the "I doubt" part, which is fundamental, as it depicts the importance of questioning and doubting. The fact that Descartes assumes his doubts are that which form his very existence, illustrates how asking questions is crucial, and natural for humans. The Brazilian author Millôr Fernandes once said that "Se você não tem dúvidas, é porque está mal-informado", or in other words, "If you have no doubts, it is because you are misinformed". This demonstrates how to understand concepts that are not only factually accurate but true to us and our moral values, we must ask questions.
Many fear asking questions, and in general, society discourages us to do so. One example of this is in class, when one student asks about what the teacher has explained and the rest of the pupils collectively groan. But this is not the correct attitude. Cognitive scientist and author Phillip Fernbach says that "Ignorance is a feature of the human brain, not a bug.". However, to overcome this ignorance, and be able to grow despite the complexity of Earth as best we can, we must learn to think. I expect several will be surprised when hearing this because everyone thinks that they think, but this is false. Thinking, truly thinking, is so rare, that most people do not think, they solely have thoughts. Many do not think, because they do not know what thinking is, and believe it only happens between their ears. But thinking is questioning, and it requires teamwork. Fernbach also says that thinking is a collaborative act, and that "knowledge is shared". We must begin to think less like individuals, and more like a community, because we alone do not have enough knowledge to develop.
Our community has begun to think, which has led to all the improvements and developments we see in the present. We must continue thinking to be able to thrive. This relates to modern society as currently there are so many standards and 'criteria' related to our lifestyle, relationships, and appearance which are spread through social media, magazines and other platforms. To overcome these, it is necessary to question the standards, so that we can understand if they are truly our goals and what we should be striving for, rather than what we are told to strive for. We each have our ways of being content and fulfilled with ourselves, and to achieve this we must begin chasing our own happiness rather than that of others which we are told to reflect.
That will lead us to free speech. This phrase has been frequently used by digital users and media platforms to masquerade insults and hatred. Although many agree that free speech should be uttered as long as it does not have the intention of hurting other individuals or communities. Also, those who speak freely must be open to debate, disagreements, other points of view and the possibility of changing perspectives. This is because they are not; they may be speaking freely while not truly being free as they are trapped within the prison of their own minds. They must have open minds to other options because the factor that most contributes to the ignorance of human beings is not admitting that we are ignorant and can at times be mistaken. If we all question what we believe, find ideas that match our moral values, begin to be true to ourselves, and do away with our narrow mentality, our society could be so much more productive, and we could all co-exist in harmony.