I remembered becoming old enough to vote for the first time and along with that having some interest in politics, mainly so that I was making an informed decision about who I would vote for. I soon realised that whoever I voted for, however, would not make any real difference. People used to say,
Put a red rosette on a donkey and people would vote for it
The opposition would quip, “That’s exactly what they do.” The reason that this humorous exchange rings true is because, as the blog post suggests, We are not as open minded as we think.
When someone or something challenges our beliefs, you would think that we would take that new information and reassess how we feel. Yet, the reverse is usually true. When we’re challenged with new information, it just makes our preexisting belief stronger.
When scientists had people watch Bob Dole debate Bill Clinton in 1996, they found supporters before the debate tended to believe their preferred candidate won. In 2000, when psychologists studied Clinton lovers and haters throughout the Lewinsky scandal, they found Clinton lovers tended to see Lewinsky as an untrustworthy homewrecker and found it difficult to believe Clinton lied under oath. The haters, of course, felt quite the opposite.
The same thing is happenening right now. Trump is popular because he’s entertaining, either good or bad, but primarily he’s popular because he reinforces how people think, once again, good or bad.
The short of it is simple: challenge my beliefs, and instead of thinking critically about your challenge, I’ll sit around thinking how right I am and how stupid you are. When we’re shown something that undermines what we believe, we get confused, maybe even angry, but we rarely change our minds. This happens independent of the tone of an article or conversation. People may argue that if a belief is challenged in a more neutral manner, it leads to better discourse, but that’s never the case. The more neutral an argument is, the easier it is to dismiss (or just flip it to your side).
Sadly, there’s not a lot we can actually do here to fix this. The best you can do is accept the possibility you’re wrong, wait a heated debate, or an anger-inducing article out for a little while, then reassess once you’ve cooled off a little.
So why does this matter?
We Are Human Beings – We Were Created to Change – The Future Requires Change
This probably doesn’t surprise or shock you. The reality of it, however, is indeed a shock to the system. We crave safety, security and rest but the dream within us requires transformation, growth and risk. It’s not that rest, safety and security are wrong, not at all. It’s just that growth requires change.
In relation to our politics this may not matter at all. Our fixed ideologies may well be helping. In the realm of theology I find that some things having been settled for a couple of thousand years is really useful. I often remind myself, we settled that, remember Athanasius, remember the council of Nicea and so on. In life, however, the better future we crave will require some shift and change for all of us.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. – George Bernard Shaw
I’ll be writing further on this over the next few weeks. For now determine to live with some unreasonableness…to become extraordinary in some way…
When someone thinks everyone should think, feel & react like they do, it’s blindness. It creates conflict & blocks getting to truly know others – Dr Henry Cloud