Critical thinkers did not begin to think and talk critically about human agency so it could be relied upon in a way where people would use the presence of constrained agency as a way to shut down the much needed critical discussions that could lead to better lives for more oppressed people. Constrained agency deserves the opportunity to manifest broadly and in a good way. Critical thinking is required to value this.
Critical thinkers did not begin to think and talk about the importance of insider knowledge as a way to discredit and dismiss outsider knowledge outright, completely, and at all times. Rather, they did this to point out the importance of how one’s position in society shapes perception. Just as insiders are able to perceive things outsiders cannot, outsiders are able to see things that insiders cannot. Insider and outsider knowledge exist in relationship, not to the exclusion of the other. Critical thinking is required to value this.
Critical thinkers did not begin to think about and talk about privilege as a way to discredit and dismiss all the knowledge that people with more privilege have. Rather, it was to point out the limitations of privileged understandings, the need to value the agency that all people have, as well as the importance and significance of insider knowledge. Critical thinking is required to value this.
While it is important to challenge oppressive patriarchal structures, this does not mean that all structures are bad. Humans need structures to guide them to live a good life. Indigenous Creation Stories are a structure, the clan system is a structure, Anishinaabemowin is a structure, and all our traditional teachings are structures. It is incorrect to think humans can live without structure. It is the oppressive structures that are the issue, not all structure. The idea that anything goes is a bad structure. Critical thinking is required to value this.
Lastly, there is criticizing, there is critical thinking, and there is a paradigm shift. Most people are criticizing or stuck in the wrong paradigm.
As we critically think about difficult issues we also need to critically think about how we are thinking things through as our process or method of thinking may be an issue. This poster may help:
Lynn Gehl, Ph.D. is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley. She has a section 15 Charter challenge regarding the continued sex discrimination in The Indian Act, and is an outspoken critic of the Ontario Algonquin land claims and self-government process. She has three books: Anishinaabeg Stories: Featuring Petroglyphs, Petrographs, and Wampum Belts, The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin of the Algonquin Land Claims Process, and Mkadengwe: Sharing Canada's Colonial Process through Black Face Methodology. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and see more of her work at www.lynngehl.com.