For many years now I have referred to myself as "Independent" when asked which political party I belong to. The purpose of remaining independent is that I want to always reserve the right to "think" rather than picking a position based on one party or the others stated position. Picking a position based on a party involvement, others opinions or previous teaching is a great way to ensure that you will never expand your mind and further your knowledge. Here are a few thoughts on how to join the "Thinking Party":
1) Thomas Edison was quoted saying, "There are few people who actually think, there are a few more who think they think, and then there are the great majority who would rather die than think." Use this awareness as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean of previously gathered knowledge and take a fresh look at what you believe and why.
2) Thousands of years of wars and conflict have proven that intolerance is one of the most destructive forces in the history of the world. This destructive force can be eliminated by Stephen Covey's habit of "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." I suggest that this needs to be taken a step further. We should also seek to understand our own belief on a given subject as well. We should seek to understand the hypothesis for any belief and determine whether it is founded on sound fact or reason.
3) Nothing closes the door for accurate thinking faster than rising emotions. The reason why politics and religion are typically off limits for discussion is that most people cannot control their emotions on these subjects, making a productive conversation impossible. In order to join the "Thinking Party," create a habit of controlling your emotions while you seek to understand the others point of view as well as your own.
4) Have you ever seen two politicians from opposing parties on the news accidentally agree on something? Your answer to that question should help you understand the level of accurate thought that goes into their positions.
Whether it is two political parties, two countries at war or two groups of ordinary people, no one will ever be successful if they cannot remove the destructive force of intolerance and make way for accurate thought. I encourage you to make the decision to think, seek first to understand and keep your emotions at bay. Once you become a member of the "Thinking Party," its okay if you accidentally agree with someone on the other side.