PostHeaderIcon A Simple Truth – Revealed

Many of us were taught, from childhood on, that there are two subjects one should never openly discuss – politics and religion.

Given the impact these two forces have on virtually every human in every place, this always seemed very odd advice. Indeed, I have always found them to be two of the most interesting of topics and, therefore, the most worthy of open discussion and even debate.

Now I did (and still do) understand that what my elders really meant was that discussion of either topic was prone to make tempers flare, could cause long-time friendships to dissolve, and sometimes even ended up in outright violence.

But, why should this be? I have pondered this for a very long time then suddenly the obvious answer hit me like a falling stone. (When I experience these insights, I invariably feel quite foolish because I suspect they have long been known to the well informed and are just another illustration that, while I still don’t know a lot, I am beginning to suspect some things.)

At any rate, the simple truth revealed to me this time around is this: Most people get angry when politics or religion are openly discussed because, in both cases, they tend to have very strong feelings and beliefs while being totally clueless about the details behind those feelings and beliefs. That is to say, however strongly they cling to their notions, they can’t explain (in fact, do not know) what they are clinging to. And this simple fact illustrates their ignorance (if not outright stupidity) in front of others whenever their politics or their religions are challenged. They are embarrassed by their obvious ignorance but prefer to lash out rather than seeking the knowledge and understanding that would erase their ignorance.

How can it have taken me so long to see something so simple? Makes me wonder how many other simple facts go right over my old gray head.

Troy L Robinson

5 Responses to “A Simple Truth – Revealed”

  • I find it all depends on how you conduct yourself. I often end up injecting myself into group discussions in which I’m a minority opinion. I do alright most of the time though, because I approach it from an analytical standpoint. Stay calm. Argue ethics rather than morality, supporting facts rather than opinions, and don’t be condescending. If others refuse to do the same, then that’s a sign of weakness on their part. That works for politics anyway, religion is pretty much made of morality, opinions, and condescention, so there you just have to be willing to upset people or keep your mouth shut. I generally choose the former (as illustrated).

  • Daedalus says:

    I think any time a topic is discussed on which people base their feelings of self worth, and have contradictory values, tempers might flare. In a lot of cases folks forget or don’t instantly recall, the previous value judgments that give rise to their feelings, so it isn’t always the case that their views are not possible of defense. They just may need time to recover the basis for their feelings. That is why blogs like this are a useful form of discussion, especially if one doesn’t respond instantaneously to a particular message but gives himself a little time to evaluate things. However, not like myself who may take weeks before replying (other considerations often intervene).
    Thanks Dave & Troy for your patience with me.

    • Troy says:

      I think you are right — but only about some people. I still contend that the vast majority, within my personal range of experience, have strong beliefs that are based on nothing that they really know or understand. And, not knowing or understanding is, by definition, ignorance. It may well be that their positions COULD be defended or explained, just not by them.

      By way of example, my own parents were life-long staunch, unwavering Democrats. Yet, their personal attitudes were totally Republican — even though they did not realize it. This contradiction existed with them because they had never taken the time or expended the effort to really learn what the two parties stood for. They believed that FDR “saved” the nation and that was all they needed to know.

      I have also known many die-hard protestant fundamentalists who were that way for no reason other than that their parents had been the same. I am certain that, had these same people been raised by Muslims, most of them would have been die-hard Islamists.

      Steel Phoenix,
      As for making people angry when discussing politics or religion, I sometimes end up doing that but, given that my overarching purpose in discussing ideas with others is to get them to think rationally, I realize that an angry mind is not a thinking mind so I try to avoid such confrontations. Simply knowing (or showing) that my point of view is more rational than that of another serves no purpose for me.


  • Daedalus says:

    Troy you wrote:
    “I have also known many die-hard protestant fundamentalists who were that way for no reason other than that their parents had been the same. I am certain that, had these same people been raised by Muslims, most of them would have been die-hard Islamists.”

    I agree. We derive many of our values in childhood and, as adults, we may not have access to the originating circumstances. We just have the “feelings” like “God is good.” Somewhere in the pre-teen years our parents, whom we probably respected, inculcated the idea that religion was an entity needed for our long term happiness and salvation and that questioning it was evil. Most children accept these early values, learned by rote from their significant others, and this before they have mastered the arts of thinking and logic (and they might never master them. When you threaten a persons basic values in such a manner that they feel them undercut, they respond with emotion, much like they would if their brakes failed on steep downhill road. If a rational person feels threatened (intellectually)I would say, “check your premises.”

  • Troy says:

    I’m sure we agree on the underlying causes. The REAL issue I wanted to get to is that there is something utterly immoral and unethical about using the power of government (or even of the church) to try to force others to follow a belief, indeed to kill them when they disagree with a belief that, regardless of how impassioned the belief might be, it is nevertheless not understood by the believer. Is this not tantamount to taking the liberty and lives of others without any cause or reason that one could rationally articulate? Does this not make such actions totally arbitrary?

    I am convinced that, if there actually exists a state than can be called EVIL, it is nothing more than a subtle blend of unenlightened greed mixed with ignorance. Ergo, the state of humanity can scarcely improve from its present condition so long as these persist in such abundance.


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