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Critical thinking is said to be an ability to objectively analyze information, then make a reasoned judgement.  

Here in prison, I live with a bunkmate who doesn’t like to clean around our area. At first, I was tempted to take this personally, but as I observed how he operates and how he thinks, I was able to see that he is just a person who has never established a habit of cleanliness. So I decided to continue cleaning daily, something taught to me at a young age, because it’s the right thing to do.

A dissenting voice is one that disagrees, or expresses an opinion that is different from that of the majority. In the above paragraph, I spoke of my unclean bunkmate. 

Right before I had decided to confront my bunky about his uncleanliness, I listened to what a few guys had to say. Even though the majority agreed with me, there was one dissenting voice. 

This opinion helped me see my bunkmate differently and with more compassion. Critical thinking is vital, especially in today’s climate, with most people being fueled by emotion, then taking actions that cause more harm than good. 

Dissenting voices are not favored by the majority of people because they expose stains and blemishes, darkness, the stuff that’s supposed to stay hidden, stuff that, if looked at ,would cause pain and sorrow. 

Critical thinking encourages dissenting voices; a critical thinker can take a dissenting opinion, analyze it objectively, then make a reasoned judgement. 

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Michael Dunn

Michael Dunn is a writer incarcerated at California Rehabilitation Center. He is new to writing, but he said he likes the sense of freedom it provides. He is a California native and enjoys prayer, chess, playing his harmonica, writing, reading, exercising and working.