“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way” - Christopher Hitchens
One of the things I am most proud of in my life is the fact I don’t mind being the only one in a room that feels the status quo doesn’t or can’t speak for me. Indeed oftentimes I go out of my way to be the outlier and take on positions contrary to many of my own colleagues.
It may come at no surprise to my readership that two of the most important figures in my life are Socrates and the late Christopher Hitchens.
Socrates, famously known as the “Gadfly of Athens”, commonly spent his days walking around the city and asking annoying questions to people who didn’t want to be bothered.
That is an all important job, especially for anyone today that calls themself a journalist of any sort.
Christopher Hitchens, being a world-famous writer and journalist himself, undoubtedly utilized the Socratic Method in his every day life.
He was also the author of a book containing the above quotation titled “Letters to a Young Contrarian,” commonly regarded by myself as well as others to be his best and most accomplished book.
Like my “heroes” Socrates and Christopher Hitchens, I understand the importance of being a voice of dissent. This isn’t to say that I endeavor to seek out argument per se, but it is to say that having the ability to think for yourself is one important skill that will never go out of style.
I hope some of you have had the experience of being at a political convention, a speech, or a lecture where you hear someone state something that is so revoltingly untrue that it makes you want to leave the room or turn off your television.
Having the ability to stand up for what you believe in and know to be the truth is one of the most important and necessary characteristics for an individual to have, but it takes courage.
It takes courage to take the risk of being wrong and humiliated in front of your peers, especially when you’re speaking an opinion that you know will be unpopular.
But it can be fun, and one of the biggest things that I look forward to in my life is the feeling of vindication I get from being eventually proven correct.
That feeling makes the risk of thinking for yourself completely worth it, and it’s in the light of the late Christopher Hitchens and Socrates that I invite you to join with me in taking the risk of thinking for yourself.