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Critical Thinking about Global Issues

Critical Thinking about Global Issues

Going beyond shock statistics and compelling imagery.

If you search online for information on any issue of global importance, you’ll soon encounter any number of related video presentations. Sometimes these videos are the work of advocates, scientists or other interested stakeholders. Sometimes they are relatively objective reports of the given issue. Sometimes they’re relatively raw footage from the real world—boots-on-the-ground activists sharing how and why they’re hard at work solving problems and saving lives. Sometimes they are genuine and heartfelt appeals for funding or calls for action from a variety of invested individuals, groups, agencies or organizations.

These presentations attempt to meet the needs of three distinct stakeholder groups:

  • The needs of the consumer for compelling and accurate information from which we can make good decisions about the issue.
  • The needs of those affected by the issues.
  • The needs of the producers of the materials themselves to validate and support their own work. 

Part of the inner journey is to use these encounters as springboards from which to move inward, in the direction of claiming your own responsibility and choosing how to respond. Spirit is connected with action. What is true and unique about you is brought to bear on problems and issues that most authentically reflect your beliefs, commitments, and life experience.

Consider the following questions as you process your encounter with issues of global concern:

  • Where do the numbers come from? How accurate, realistic and reliable do you find them to be?
  • What is revealed by “drilling down” into the statistics on a regional or local level? What differences in experience are there among those affected?
  • What is revealed by “drilling up,” connecting the statistics to a larger context—what are the related issues? How might those be as or even more important and compelling to you?
  • How do these numbers serve the three different stakeholder groups? How do they not serve these three groups?
  • In terms of the issue of concern, how would you move in the direction of connecting your “self” with another “self” instead of a just a statistic?

Having encountered the issue, and evaluated it critically, how would you describe the beliefs and values you hold that move you in the direction of action?