Thursday, November 10, 2005

Neo-Neocon: A Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change

I have been reading Neo-Neocon's series of posts collectively labelled "A Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change".

I am fascinated by the sense that strong beliefs are often more about affiliation than about views that have been really carefully examined. What our family believes, what our friends believe, what our neighborhood believes exerts a huge influence on what we believe. That's not news, but when we are locked into our point of view in a debate, we typically don't see it that way. When our view seem so self-evidently true, and the other guy's seems so self-evidently wrong, it may just be that we are drawing on prejudices that dance before us in the guise of reason.

I live in an part of the world that tends a bit to the left. I have in-laws who live in an area that reputedly tends to the right. I consider my in-laws to be very bright, thoughtful and reasonable people. So, it amazes me when they say things that seem so close to the stereotypical views of their part of the world -- things that seem self-evidently wrong when I first hear them. Perhaps if it were somebody I didn't respect so much I would just be dismissive. But knowing them as I do -- as people of considerable intellect and sensitivity to the world -- I can not dismiss them, or their views.

Instead, I am left in fascination. Wondering. Is it possible that so much that I hold to be self-evident is just an illusion? Are my so so reasonable opinions nothing but prejudice? Am I just a product of my town, my newspaper, and my television? Are they my mind?

Is it the same for the in-laws?

When was the last time you or I really challenged something that you believe to be self-evidently true, or self-evidently good?

When you read this, do yourself a favor and try challenging yourself in this way.

Whatever your political leanings, I suggest you visit her site and check out the posts. You can find them on the sidebar on the right of her blog.

I am just reading her writings bit by bit, so please, nobody tell me how it ends.


Blogger Mimi said...

Now what did I miss here? WHOSE writings and what's the link? Please fill me in.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Copernicus Now said...

Hi Mimi, nice to see you again. You can check out Neo-neocon at Look down the right side of her page and you will see the posts I refer to.

4:05 AM  
Blogger dus7 said...

This is a very nicely written piece that I can relate to, having a son who takes issue with a many of my statements and opinions. While I don't agree with the views expressed in the links you provided, I think you are totally correct about challenging oneself, questioning one's firmest beliefs. The way many of us deal with this is to refuse to take sides or identify with either major political party. What we want is the Truth or whatever portions of it we can discover. Rest assured, it will be complex and never fully known, nor is it ever binary, black and white, but finding out what really happened is part of our life journey and education.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Copernicus Now said...

Hi dus7.

I just checked out your site Come Speak To Me 2. What a find!!

I had a blast with the post titled "Political Compass" (Nov 10). Apparently, I was in the same quadrant as you, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. No wonder I like your style.

It did remind me of a time when I took a battery of psychological tests about 15 years ago. One particular test analyzes your character into one of 16 4-character groupings. (I think it might have been the Myers-Briggs test.) After offering an description of the characteristics of that grouping, it gave a list of people that shared those qualities. One of the 'people' that I supposedly shared traits with was Yoda, of Star Wars fame. I almost died laughing. So, now I am apparently in the same category as the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela.

Amusing these tests are.

I love your site.

7:53 PM  
Blogger dus7 said...

TY for your kind words, copernicus. I'm at the wrong end of life for such idealism, but I truly believe 'we are all in this together' and just don't realize it yet. I, too, took a couple of 'real' tests long years ago and was surprised to find that (according to the probably skewed tests) I was quite normal, except for a slight tendency to over-value males, lol. (I had a very dominant father.) To tell the truth I'm overly influenced by nearly everyone, but as I always say, that tends to balance out... I subscribe to the happy fiction that my mind is my own and independent.

11:23 AM  

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