With the New Year, there are lots of good wishes and hope for a kinder and gentler time, where we can maybe treat each other a little better; try to better understand others; and have more meaningful dialogues. It might also be a good time for us to reflect on our own mindset, opinions and values and beliefs.

When someone asks "What do you think about ______?" it usually means they have a strong opinion that they can’t wait to share with you. If you want to shock them into stunned silence, try a response of "I just don’t know" or "I don’t really have an opinion on that."

I’m constantly amazed at the many millions of Americans that somehow seem to have a definitive opinion about nearly everything. They seem to know exactly what is good or bad, and right or wrong about very complex issues that have many sides to the equation.

Simple slogans such as "cancel culture," "open up," or "build the wall" make it easy for some to believe that there is a simple solution to nearly everything. They have decided to follow the party line of their chosen leaders in the White House, Congress or state or local governments. Their opinions tend to mimic those of their chosen social and news media sources, and many people seek out and associate mostly with those on the same side and who agree with them.

Maybe we could try to resolve to do more critical thinking for ourselves this next year. Maybe try to broaden our perspective with better news sources (BBC is one of my favorites) that will give us enough facts and unbiased sides of an issue to find our own place. Start with our own values and belief systems, when forming good thinking on a particular issue. And don’t be afraid to simply say you don’t know or don’t have an opinion on everything.

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David Stene lives in Pelican Rapids, Minn.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.