It seems obvious when “extremists” kill or coerce in the name of their ideology. It looks crazy to us because we believe differently. But to the extremist, their ideology is reality. Their view of the world is not a belief system. They see the world as it is. One of the reasons they are dangerous is that they are blind to the fact that they even have an ideology.
And this isn’t just the obvious extremists (like say radical Islam), this is the U.S.A. too, right? Don’t we have an ideology that we push? And I don’t just mean conservatives.
It is easy to dismiss the idea of “belief” and “ideology” as dangerous.
John Mayer’s song “Belief” sings this. Belief is what makes for irrational wars. Belief is what puts 100,000 children in the sand. Belief is what kills, and we can never win if “belief is what we’re fighting for.” I actually like the song a lot. But not the message. It’s hypocritical. It’s blind. “Those people have an ideology. Glad I don’t.”
It’s dangerous (and arrogant) when you don’t see your own ideology. But everyone has a philosophy, a belief, a value system that we use to interpret the world. And it is dangerous when we accuse “them” of living for their beliefs, but are blind to our own.
The real struggle is not between those with beliefs and those without them. The struggle in our world is a conflict of ideas.
The real struggle is not between those with beliefs and those without them. The struggle in our world is a conflict of ideas. Of truth, of facts, of reason, of coherency, of wisdom. And as long as we acknowledge this, there is room for discussion. But when we refuse to acknowledge our own assumptions (“ideology”) we write “them” off for their beliefs. THEY are wrong by definition because they are following an ideology. Not me. I just see the facts. At this point civil dialogue is no longer possible. Isn’t it ironic that the one who laughs at all the blind men groping around the elephant doesn’t question his own eyesight.
One of the marks of an extremist (or bully, or fool) in the making is that they don’t see or acknowledge that their view of the world is an ideology. If you try to reason with them, they will dismiss what YOU say. They might attack YOU with words (or worse) for being a blind zealot.
People that acknowledge their own world view, are in a position to appreciate it and reason with others.
Photo by a2gemma, used by permission. Some rights reserved.