Group Thinking or Group Mind by Doris Lessing 1. Examine the theme in the context of the essay. What does the writer say about the theme? Clearly explain the point the writer makes; what purpose does it serve? The theme of the essay is group thinking or group mind. Doris Lessing argues that group mind is disadvantageous, sometimes to the point of being lethal, when people lose their ability to think critically against their group and to act individually to do what is right. She wants people to examine their lives and to determine if they truly are free people, or they are mere sheep who mindlessly follow their groups.
Her primary goals are for people to criticize their groups, so that they will not be automatically obeying them, and for them to assert their free will. People should learn to leave their group box behind and to find a reasonable “thinking” distance, where they can detach their emotions and thoughts from the group and fully think as free, rational individuals. Lessing understands that to do is not easy and it can make people uneasy.
But if they want to take advantage of their liberal norms and infrastructures, the more that they should apply it- the idea of being an individual, despite being part of a group. 2. Draw upon sources outside the essay to further discuss the theme: Discuss and reflect upon that theme with reference to your personal experience, other written or visual texts (such as films), or events in the world at large. Many people have forgotten to think and to question their beliefs that come from their groups. They have stopped criticizing the status quo because their groups are part of it and might even be benefitting from it.
But what if the status quo is not the best of human reality? What if we can do better, if only we analyzed and criticized our group norms and conduct? Lessing mentions the Milgram experiment as one of the key examples of groupthink. I also offer the Stanford experiment and people who follow religious dogma or believe in politicians without criticizing the latter’s beliefs and behaviors. These experiments demonstrate the flaws of group thinking, which are the loss of free will and independence in thoughts and actions and inability to question prevailing group norms for fear of being ostracized.
Indeed, most people are social animals. They want to belong to a group. They want a group to accept them. Group acceptance and its maintenance can have its repercussions. People should learn to question their groups too, but they cannot do that if their groups oppose criticism and changes. 3. Engage critically with the writer's ideas. Agree/disagree with the writer with reasons and examples. I agree with Lessing that group think is dangerous because it can lead to prejudice, discrimination and preservation of unethical norms and conduct, but I believe that one kind of group thinking is actually helpful, the group mind of critical thinkers who are open to self and group criticism.
Group thinking is part of human behavior and not something peculiar to Nazi Germans only. But as with the Nazis and the Milgram experiment, group minds can be dangerous. Having one mind can be fatal when it results to discrimination and genocide.
This is an extreme case, which we read from the news, especially in countries, such as in Africa, where genocide persists, as one dominating ethnic group persecute, displace, and slaughter minority groups. Some of groupthink’s consequences are not so directly lethal, but can still be considered nationally and individually fatal. An example is gay hate that comes from traditional religious groups. I witnessed a number of “religious” teens beat up a gay boy. I reported the incident, but up to now, I feel like sheep for not saying anything during that time.
Group mind can be a poisonous process, which can preserve unethical norms and conduct. Corporate fraud, for instance, shows “groupthink, ” when numerous executives and employees believe that it is right to misstate financial accounts because it is acceptable to their group. Their thinking deceived so many stakeholders, without them considering that what they are doing as unethical and illegal. Nevertheless, one groupthink can have positive results. For instance, the group mind of critical thinkers who are open to self and group criticism can be promoted across sectors and industries.
Their norms must be openness, creativity, flexibility, and criticism. This way, they will not see change as anti-group and criticism as death-for-the-group. They can use their thinking as individuals to enhance their individual and group identities. Work Cited Lessing, Doris. “Group Minds. ” Class Material.
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