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Just dropping by ... By their fruits ye shall know them’

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairy Published on 19 July 2020

As the election year heats up to a frenzy, political messages become the subtext of nearly every news story. “The country is on the brink of destruction, and I am the only one who can save you from the impending doom,” the Democrats cry.

“I am the one who can get us through this crisis,” the Republicans banter. The voter in the middle feels like the rope in a tug of war. Unless, of course, the voter has already decided to drink the Kool-Aid from one party or the other. In that case, there is not much to be said, but for those who are still undecided, it is good to be reminded of the principles of critical thinking:

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  • Gather complete information.
  • Understand and define all terms.
  • Question the methods by which the facts are derived.
  • Question the conclusions.
  • Look for hidden assumptions and biases.
  • Question the source of facts.
  • Don’t expect all of the answers.
  • Examine multiple causes and effects.
  • Understand your own biases and values.

Edited from Larry Larson, Professor of Biology, Ohio University, “Journal of Biological Education” (1990).
Principles of critical thinking.

Jesus gives two important principles not listed above: “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32 KJV) and “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20 KJV). Finding the truth is a matter of prayer coupled with the gift of discernment. We can pray all we want, but we will never get a satisfactory answer unless we do our homework. We must look at the fruit that fell from the tree in the life of the candidate. We must wade through the propaganda to the source, then take our findings to the Lord and say, “I have found this information, what am I to do with it?” Listen for the answer.

When you gather information, the easiest place to go is the media – but is that the best place to go? The news is often commentary on the commentary. You know how the gossip game works. You whisper something in the ear of someone who, in turn, whispers what they had heard in the ear of the next person.

By the time it gets to the end of the line, it is often a laughing matter how the message changed from the initially whispered message. The best place to obtain accurate information is at the source. What is the candidate actually saying? Is he or she talking apples and making you feel that you are getting oranges? What is his or her track record? Look at the statistics, at the source. Do your own fact-check. Make your own conclusions.

In this election year, it is vital we define the candidate’s platform and ask questions. What does socialism really mean? What is capitalism in plain language? What is racial equity? How can it be achieved? How will higher taxes impact my take-home pay? If colleges are free, who will pay the professors? If police departments are dismantled, how will peace be maintained? If health care is free, who will pay the doctors and nurses? What is the Green New Deal and how will it impact you and your neighbors? What is abortion on demand? In some countries, the government decides who will have children and who will not.

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What is a trade deal and who are we making deals with? How will those deals influence my pocketbook and the pocketbooks of my children and grandchildren? What is climate change? Who is promoting it and why? What are open borders? Does it mean allowing anyone and everyone to come into the country without checking to see if they will adopt our laws and way of life, or will they be free to change our country into the country they left behind? These questions and more will lead on a journey of answers about the candidates. It will become clearer who will best keep America on track to a safe future.

We need to “question the methods by which the facts are derived” and find out where the information is coming from. In recent months, the riots around a black man’s death sparked a terrible moment in American history. We saw statues of historical figures defaced and dragged to the ground, and businesses burned to the ground. The masses assumed it was because people of color were rising up against racism, but businesses in neighborhoods of color were burned alongside businesses owned by white people. Black policemen lost their lives in the same fray. Was the unrest really about racism? Only you can decide by following the paper trail. If we are going to find the truth, we must ask questions, not just follow the crowd.

In the past, the news presented the facts, and the viewers were left to make their own conclusion. Now the talking heads spew the conclusions in pointed terms. The facts are secondary. They do not expect you to fact-check anything. They cut and paste the soundbite that fits the agenda; viewers are expected to be shocked and spread the news to friends and neighbors who are too busy to watch the news. Viewers are supposed to form opinions of a candidate by the few words they write in a statement, which is often taken out of context and shaped like an arrow to prick outrage against the candidate by their opponents. Like sheep, the masses follow one after another, making decisions on the gossip chain spread by the media.

If we are to make sound decisions and elect people of integrity to govern us, it is vital we fact-check what we are being told. With an open mind, we must listen to the entire speech the candidate gives and decipher the context of the soundbite the media is using to shape the news. When someone informs us about a candidate, we must ask, “How do you know? Where did you get your information?” If he or she says, “I saw it on Facebook, or I heard it on the news,” question the validity until you check it out yourself. Pictures can be altered; phrases can be changed. Pictures of people can be put in places they have never been. We live in a world where virtual reality can be deceptive. We must wade through the mire to find the pearls of truth.

As we view the candidates, we must project ourselves into the future to “examine multiple causes and effects.” If this person is elected, what will be the outcome? Where will they lead us? Will we continue to uphold our beloved Constitution?

We are at a crossroads. How we vote this election and, in every election, decides our future. As we travel through the maze of COVID-19, we saw how governors of different parties made decisions for their states. Some were iron-handed in their approach, while others were cautious yet flexible. We saw business owners put in jail and felons released. We saw churches closed and bars opened. In some states, we saw not wearing a mask made a criminal act, while in other states it was a personal choice. It would be well to make a study of governors and their policies and then look at which political party they are affiliated with.

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Learning to think critically is not easy. It takes effort and willpower, but it is vital in this election year. If we do nothing else in our quest to choose the right candidate, we must tune into the Lord. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows all truth and will answer us if we ask. He wants us to grow in wisdom and stature, so He will not simply tell us to “vote for all the Republicans or all the Democrats.” We must do our homework, then go to Him and ask, “After all I have studied, I have come to this conclusion; what do you think?” He will cause a feeling of peace to come into the mind and heart if it is right. If it is not right, an unsettled feeling will follow. Learn to get answers from the Lord, and He will direct you in this election.  end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.

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