If you have to have an opinion about something, be cognizant of the fact that your thoughts and your perspective are not shared by everyone.
I’ve figured out the -isms: racism, sexism, ageism, etc. Ready for this? It has to do with heuristics, bias, education, and mental flexibility. In fact, I would like to posit that avoidance of the discomforts of cognitive dissonance is why some Christians can justify hate and intolerance.
When a person grows up in a black-and-white world (and by this, I mean an environment in which there is only right and wrong–there is no gray area), he or she (or they or them–it’s 2017) consciously and subconsciously “sorts” things, ideas, and stimuli into either the “good” bucket or the “bad” bucket.
Let’s go deeper. Growing up in this type of environment means that good/bad (and right/wrong and heaven/hell) decisions are made on a very regular basis. As a child develops, he or she begins to automate many of these “sorting” decisions. In the absence of excellent (or even somewhat decent) education, these heuristics become engrained.
Follow this chain of logic: crimes are bad things –> committing crimes is bad –> people who commit crimes are bad –> [turns on tv] that guy who committed a crime is bad –> people who look like that guy are bad –> black people are bad.
Even in the face of empirical evidence that what they believe is “right” is so very, very wrong, they will insist that they are correct in their belief, as their “beliefs” have become immutable facts in their minds.
When one blindly supports a political party and then, therefore, a particular politician, simply because that party’s ideals broadly correspond to their religious upbringing, any questionable act or outright travesty of justice calls into question the trajectory of their entire lives, and therefore, the deity they worship.
Because it is fundamentally uncomfortable to question one’s own ingrained beliefs, the least psychologically stressful option is to continue to defend one’s original right/wrong bucket.
Consider these quotes:
- “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle
- “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” -Robert Frost
Why talk about this now? At no time in my life have I found this to be more relevant. It hurts me to see people praise or decry a particular governmental action (or a general political leaning) without a rational reason to do so. I also can’t stand to see a person claim a particular Bible verse to defend or denounce someone or something–and completely ignore not only the context of the passage, but the totality of the contents of the Good Book.
Simply consider another perspective, as I have here. I recognize that many haven’t been afforded the educational opportunities I’ve had in my life, and I recognize that my life experiences have demanded that I be receptive to (and respectful of) opinions diametrically opposed to my own. Recognize that objective truth and subjective truth are one and the same for the vast majority of the populace.
Can we all be so open-minded? No, but we can try. We can explore cultures other than our own. We can talk to people with whom we wouldn’t normally converse. We can push our boundaries and expand our comfort zones. We can listen. We can read [something other than mainstream media]. We can question. We can learn. We can try.