Think For Yourself

There’s some very interesting and important discussions that other people are having this week which are going to have a direct impact on my co-workers and me personally. On June 12 (Thursday of this week – tomorrow in fact), there’s a Provincial election going on. Today being the 11th, my Union is counting ballots to determine if they received a yes or no vote to move ahead with a strike mandate. And in nearby Toronto, they are electing a mayor and that could have financial impacts on all of us in the Province of Ontario.

I find that with respect to the municipal election, while I haven’t attended a single local meeting to hear the candidates, I have been reading their platforms in the local papers. And on a Provincial level, each one of these local candidates is part of a larger political party naturally. So do I vote for the local candidate I like the most or the provincial party that’s going to represent my wishes best?

While each one of the parties tells me to vote for them, I have to keep reminding myself to think for myself. What’s fundamentally intriguing to me is that parties seldom ask you to vote for them, they tell you. “Vote for me” instead of “Please vote for me”.

At work, there’s much discussion going on in the workplace about whether to strike or not, and whether the employer is creating fear and trying to divide us or is giving us useful information on their side of the equation so we have more information to base decisions on. I dislike anyone telling me what to think and how to vote and only portraying the other side as somehow sinister. Again, I’m returning to my mantra of, “Think for yourself” Kelly.

Turning on the car radio and listening to the CBC, (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), they are always at some point during my drive talking about an election issue, a mayoral candidate, or voter apathy. What I do like here, is that they are attempting to get the public to vote; not vote for any one person mind, just vote. It’s important. I believe some politicians actually count on lower voter turnout. Keep those opposition supporters at home if they can I suppose.

There’s a lot of good to come from discussions on issues that matter to us and impact us. Other people might raise points we hadn’t considered, give us information we otherwise would not acquire, and may even provide enough information that our opinions change from those we once held. I get that. What I find dangerous however is when there are people who ask, “what are the issues?” or “what’s it all about?” and one person or one party only presents their own point of view as the entire picture.

Last night, I went to cast my vote on whether I support my union in moving ahead with a strike mandate or not. Before I could do this however, I had to sit through a 30 minute talk from those at a head table; my bargaining committee. That time was spent portraying my employer as an entity that needs to be fought. I don’t want to fight my employer. In fact, I’m proud to work for my employer and think I’m treated very fairly. So while I sat there in silence and heard the pre-scripted message being delivered, I hoped and prayed my co-workers would also think for themselves. Vote either way, just think for yourself.

Do you know of situations when you haven’t thought for yourself and relied on the advice of others, than acted on it and it turned out good or bad? It could be that person in school that your friends said liked you a lot and told you to go up and ask out. They may have been right and you dated for a long time or married, but equally well it could be they were having you on and you looked a fool. What you wanted to believe made what they told you believable, and you trusted them. You didn’t think for yourself, you gave in to the pressure.

What about your home? There was a short window of opportunity to put in an offer on a house and while there wasn’t time to have a home inspection done, get your trusted family member in to help you make an informed decision, you nonetheless acted on the urging of a Real Estate Agent (who by the way would make a nice commission off the sale) and ended up with a money pit and regret the purchase. Sometimes the allure of a house or a shiny car and the ease of acquiring it (we’ll handle all the paperwork for you) sounds too good to be true. We act more on the advice of others than thinking clearly for ourselves.

Of course it’s good advice to take into consideration the advice of others who have expertise we lack, no immediately obvious gains to make from our decisions, and have our best interests at heart. All I encourage you to do is step back and think for yourself. Either way, you also assume the consequences and responsibility for your choices so you might as well do so after having thought clearly.


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