Humans, more often than not, are fighting, not for knowledge, but to validate beliefs, to support knowledge they falsely believe they already possess. In this manner they march out onto the battlefield that is the world of politics, and religion, and so many other subjects we hold dear, and they fall like the broken little soldiers they have been trained to be. One does not often leave their church or their right or left wing political view to strike out looking to see if they are correct. They strike out to prove others incorrect and to amass what they consider evidence that their’s is the one true belief. We are all guilty to varying degrees on various subjects but some are far worse than others.
In today’s society where do we find the far left wing, tree hugging, pacifist out there in the world attempting to locate the warhawk right wing industrialist to understand the problems that person may face in light of stricter environmental regulations and a more peaceful role the nation may play in global politics? Where is the evangelical out in the world speaking to the gay and lesbian among us trying to understand why it is they feel oppressed in a society telling them they cannot attend the church they want, or marry the person they love, or buy a cake in the local bakery. Where is the atheist attempting to understand the role of God in his neighbors life?
I imagine that there are some people out there that do do these things but the vast majority of us are simply looking to validate what we already know. If my politics tell me Trump is bad for America, I will pay not one bit of attention to any piece of information that may tell me otherwise. If my religion says evolution is wrong and any scientific information to the contrary is either invented or sent by a demonic force opposing my beliefs. If my ideology tells me climate change is a joke and we need jobs more than increased controls on pollution I ignore that the water isn’t drinkable, and the air is not breathable. Anyone with a view opposing our own is wrong, evil, demonic, stupid.
We ignore the simple understanding we need to make the world work. It is not requisite that you believe what I believe in order to like me. It is not requisite that I follow your God, or buy into your politics that I may see you as a human being trying to sort out the world and find your place in it. It is merely required we drop the pre-conceived notions we carry about one another long enough to understand each others position.
I do not have to be gay or lesbian to understand love. I do not have to be attracted to another man to understand attraction. I understand that I love my fiance and therefore I can extrapolate from this information what my gay friend is trying to relate to me regarding his feelings for the man he loves. My views have changed only in that I have chosen to see this other person as a human being.
One of my core beliefs is that science has answers where religion does not. I am not even remotely tolerant of religion as a controlling, divisive, misleading entity I believe it to be. I do not see the bible as much more than an interesting historical document. Its value to me ends there. It is not the word of God but rather a collection of books written by various humans in various ancient times, regarding local history, hearsay, and mythology. To this end I probably should strike out at religious, God fearing people as idiots. As Stupid people incapable of thought. I suppose I could as my position is pretty entrenched. But I also find religion, and belief systems terribly fascinating.
It has always been a great curiosity to me that people hear what I hear, read what I read, see what I see, and come to conclusions I cannot fathom. Why then should I alienate the people I am interested in understanding? As I can love my girl and understand my friends desire to love because of it. I can use the information that comforts me, gets me through my day, and understand that someone else has that same desire but chooses a different path to achieve it. There is no real need to ostracize someone over that particular understanding.
That is the key though. Understanding. We can stay within our bubble, stay within the safety of the knowledge we feel we posses. Our gut tells us to do so. Our preachers, leaders, talking heads, and everything we are inundated with tells us to stay there, stay safe, keep the demons at bay. Do not venture into the woods young man as there be monsters about, t’is not safe.
Our leaders have created monsters for us to fear. The religious tell you that LGBT people are an abomination now, where once they rallied support against segregation, and women’s rights, and all manner of evils we now accept in society. The monsters do not exist. The way to defeat the monster is to meet it. See the monster as a person. Know the monster is a human being struggling to get by just like yourself. When we demonize, when we fear, we ostracize the monster but in today’s information age it is far more difficult.
Today we have social media, we have more humans, we have varying types of humans. It is hard to be alive and work and function without meeting that which was previously demonized. And once we meet the demons and discover the demons name is Kathy and she is having trouble meeting her bills, and finding employment, and struggling to get through the day with all of the burdens of modern life, we understand Kathy. And if Kathy isn’t the monster she was painted to be maybe a lot of that other stuff wasn’t true either. Remove the bottom cards and the entire structure begins to crumble.
Is this so bad though? I would say it is not. I would say when you break down the falsehoods given to you by others it allows you to rebuild with the information you can now gather for yourself. And while this is a fundamental change in how you may see the world. It is also not demanded that you change everything you once held dear. Maybe just rearrange some of it to meet the demands of new found information.
Most people today seem to resist the urge to venture out. They change only when the monster breaks down their door and makes them deal with it. Evangelical Mom and Dad learn their son is gay and see his struggle. They see him ostracized from the church they always thought would be there for them. Your husband or wife gets ill and you experience the health care system, and the poverty it creates, first hand thus forcing you to use the social safety net you once despised to survive. You’re a skeptic, and an atheist, and confronted by undeniable existence of that which is without explanation by traditional scientific means.
However the change comes, it is often unwelcome and unwanted. It is often eye opening. It is the shattering of long held beliefs. It is the death on that battlefield of your accepted truth when confronted by inconvenient reality. It does not come to everyone. The acceptance of the new reality that is. Many stubbornly hold onto the indoctrinated and inflexible beliefs. They refuse the change because to change is to risk being ostracized by your family and friends. To risk acceptance of new is to abandon the old. Bu for some of us this is the only real option available. It is all that remains.
I have been through some fundamental changes in my time on this spinning ball of rock and dirt. I have come to my share of epiphanies both small and large. Many of them were positive, but not all. My epiphanies did not come from standing in the safe zone but from violating that gut instinct and venturing out to learn new things and meet new people. It is something sorely lacking in our current society, that pioneer mentality. That desire to thrust yourself out into the new and dangerous wooded area full of monsters. It is not safe but it has always proven rewarding.