Post Mortem

Culture of free thinking and positive behavior

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/22/2019 11:54:20 AM IST

 ‘Free Thinking’ simply put is the act of processing thoughts in the mind, independent of conjecture, prejudice, doctrine and popular belief.  It is an integral part of cognitive process and learning experience of human beings. This process sources new ideas, innovations, inventions, discoveries, solutions and sustainable alternatives to otherwise redundant traditions.

Individuals who exercise free thinking are driven by higher convictions and rise above petty issues and narrow minded concerns. Such minds make independent decisions, which are free from racial, tribal, sectarian and partisan allegiances. They form independent opinions instead of uncritically registering and accepting other’s opinions. Such people tend to have strong disbelief in supernatural and conventional and conformist beliefs. This is not to say that free thinking individuals reject conventional opinions and societal beliefs, but that they rationalize everything before accepting and practicing them. A sound and open mind is an agent of doubting, critical judgement and creativity. 

A free thinking person produces tangible ideas and practices. Persons with such minds are catalysts of change in human society. The popular dictum, ‘simple living, high thinking’ is an apt example of people with free thinking and positive behavior. Open mindedness, creativity and originality are the hallmarks of free thinking individuals and they in turn gives raise to positive behavior. In fact, free thinking and positive behavior are complimentarily interrelated. For one thing, free thinking individuals behave in positive manner and reversely, a person with positive behavior tends to be broad minded. Such individuals develop value system in lines with the best societal values. Such value system stems from the best of culture in relation with one’s independent thinking process. Individuals with positive behaviors move along the goal of becoming well-adjusted, fully functioning individuals. 

In some advanced societies, Positive Behavioral Supports Management Systems are run to regulate individual’s behavior in society. One agreement of individual’s inappropriate behavior is the functional nature of a given behavior – it serves a purpose. Some people often reinforce their socially undesired behaviors because they receive others’ attention out of a given behavior. In this case it becomes a societal responsibility to give due recognition to individuals on even the slightest positive behavior of individual. 

Thinking process of narrow minded individuals are seldom conditioned, if not, influenced by religious dogmatism, political ideologies and popular practices and beliefs, which oftentimes are utopian, redundant or impractical.  Besides, shallow minds are best breeding grounds of pride, intolerance, dogmatism, imitation, extravagance and superficiality. Another symptom of shallow mindedness is desire for materiality – a death-trap to free and progressive thinking. It contains the mind in the narrow circuit of transient material conditions of life – status, fashionable clothes, trendy accessories, jazzy cars and luxurious house.  The danger lurking beneath such pursuit is location of honour and prestige in ephemeral aspects of life. Such is the characteristic of a baser mind which finds contentment in transient material things. Besides, narrow minded societies are infested with blind imitation of outward foreign culture - extravagant weddings; extravagant Jubilee celebrations of churches and civil society organizations, etc - indication of lack of reason and judgement amongst masses. 

Cultured societies are free from social prejudice, sectarian differences, class consciousness, dogmatic beliefs and mimicry. Tolerance and self-reliance are chief traits of a free thinking society. Other desirable social behavior of advanced society includes high level of social interdependence, unrestrained social mobility. Positive societal behavior manifests in the form of inclusive, humane, universal and sustainable decisions and practices. Such societies believe in universal brotherhood, liberty, gender equality and social justice. 

The onus of inculcating free thinking and positive behavior first lies in the hands of parents and teachers. Till the 1990s, there was a subject in many school curriculums, called ‘Moral Science’. Such a subject does not find relevance in this globalized materialistic world. Nearly two decades into the new millennium, global trends have changed in terms of school and university education and curriculum. Schools and colleges need to get back to ‘moral science’ and personality development. Parental guidance based on popular practices seldom come into direct opposition with aspirations and attitudes of their children. This is also one reason why schools hold regular teacher Parent-Teacher Meetings (PTM). 

Social and religious institutions should claim responsibility of inculcating desirable attitude, habit and behavior amongst the members of society. What remains still is internalization of these traits by the target learners, for it requires a transformation of heart and mind. At the initial stage, it will involve effort on individual as well as institutional levels. However, in the long run, these traits will become integral part of society - a normal way of life of a given group of people.

Civilizations are gauged not only by material progress but majorly by ideas, cultural refinement and values. The depth of ideas and level of refinement are reflected in human behavior, which are the chief indicators of a civilized society. Such traits are acquired and transmitted through a prolonged and continued process of social interaction and learning. The question is, how long will it take for our townspeople to imbibe free thinking and refined behavior? When will ‘free thinking’ and ‘positive behavior’ become characteristic identity traits of our society? If parents instill good behavior in their children; if teachers implant passion for knowledge and trigger creative streak amongst students; if politicians give truth and able youth a chance; if bureaucrats work out development on the ground; if public become aware of their individual and political rights; if the youth become free thinking and responsible citizens, we would be a sensible and creatively progressive society.

Dr. Walunir, 

Associate Professor 


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