OPINION – We’re all familiar with the quote attributed to Albert Einstein that defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
We likely agree with this sentiment on one or more levels. For instance, if we find ourselves packing on extra weight we can choose to alter our current eating and exercise habits.
Or, if we wish to stop accumulating debt, we can choose to change our spending and saving patterns.
It’s unreasonable to think we could leave these habits unchanged and still expect to get a different result.
This principle is also true as it pertains to our thinking.
We tend to be creatures of habit in how we think about the world around us. We become so comfortable in our perceptions that we will violently lash out at anyone whose viewpoint challenges our own.
The mere act of exposing others to a different angle or viewpoint can nearly always be counted upon to provoke a disproportionate angry reaction.
It’s not just a matter of simple disagreement.
Anyone who works in the arena of public opinion and commentary experiences the wrath of others on a daily basis. There is no easier way to be accused of heresy than to step outside the boundaries of approved opinion.
For some individuals, being confronted with an idea that they don’t wish to see brings out genuine fear and loathing. They may not even understand why they are reacting with such vehemence.
They’re trying to protect their thinking from any contradictions that might force them to look beyond the boundaries of their mental pastures.
This is understandable considering most of us have been conditioned since kindergarten not to question certain things about the world around us.
In a sense, everyone’s thinking has been conditioned to some degree.
For instance, we’re taught that it’s necessary and good that those in power take our money by force and tell us what to do. We’re indoctrinated to believe that it is justifiable to punish or kill those who do not obey them.
These beliefs are deeply held and reinforced with fear of what may happen to us if we do not submit. For a person to even begin to question his or her beliefs about our current power structure is nothing short of an act of courage.
The good news is that no one is obligated to remain blind. Much like the prisoners in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, more people are finding their way into the light.
They are changing their thinking.
Paul Rosenberg explains why this is happening now:
Authority has become brittle and fragile. It remains in place, but the people who still believe in it are those who are least-informed, least-awake and least-alive. The more informed the individual, the more likely it is that they hold authority to be stupid and abusive.
Those who find their way out of the figurative cave often feel duty-bound to return and lead as many of their former captives to the light as will follow. This cannot be accomplished by engaging in rhetorical sword-play with those who are spoiling for a fight.
Only love and patience will plant the seeds that may eventually bloom into a new way of seeing things. This means that we must be willing to let go of our need to “win” the debate.
If we’re standing on sound principles, we have nothing to prove to anyone. Truth is already on our side. Now the challenge is to learn to see those opposing us as a prize to be won rather than a foe to be defeated.
Engaging in heated debates while snarling and snapping at one another to show dominance is a loser’s game. Persuading others to take a deeper look at their own thinking takes time and authentic understanding. There are no shortcuts.
There are, however, a lot of distractions and smokescreens that keep us fighting about things that we cannot change. The current media circus over a presidential election that’s still 14 months away is a prime example.
It’s part of the way we’ve been trained to see things. This is why so many willingly play along.
Does anyone honestly believe that political leaders are likely to change the way they’re doing things?
No measure of genuine freedom or personal progress can exist without the willingness to examine or change our thinking upon encountering a moment of clarity.
If we’re not actively creating those moments of clarity within our own lives then we’re in no position to help others discover their own moments.
We can’t share light that we don’t have.
Bryan Hyde is a radio commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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