Oh, they can talk big about reading the right books and listening to the right authorities and watchdog groups and historians and news services and educators. But when the dust settles, it looks to me like the average joe just decides what he or she wants to believe…and sticks with it.
And the longer they stick with it, the thicker the filter where information is sifted…and private, individual truth is formed.
My dad was a “union guy” till the day he died. The local carpenter’s union kept my dad working, made sure he was paid fairly, and provided support during the lean times. When people came along and cried of the evils of the mighty union, my dad would hear none of it. Period.
Many Americans stand firmly on the belief that the United States was formed as a Christian nation and built on the faith and values of the framers of the constitution…in spite of serious evidence to the contrary. “It’s just revisionist history written by people who want to tear down our country”, they say.
When my mother had her first stroke, her beloved doctor told her to start drinking a glass of wine every day. My poor, teetotaling mom labored under the weight of guilt for the rest of her life…and no matter how many times her would-be, theologian/youth minister son tried to point out that drinking a glass of wine everyday was not a sin, my mother was never convinced.
We all believe what we want to believe.
- President Obama is a Muslim.
- Country music is bad.
- Public education should be eliminated.
- Mexicans are lazy.
- We need more trained, private citizens carrying concealed weapons.
- Women are not fit to lead.
- Chevy, not Ford.
- Steak is the perfect food group.
- All of creation happened during six 24-hour days.
- Republicans are rich, heartless capitalists.
- Democrats are evil.
- Texans are just…better.
And hundreds more like these. When faced with the possibility that their cherished position could actually be intelligently and logically challenged, people will simply close off and continue to choose to believe what they have always believed.
“There is no new information that would ever cause me to change my mind.”
“The information sources I submit myself to are totally trustworthy and intellectually superior to anything or anyone new that could come my way.”
“My position (perspective, opinion, belief, judgment, attitude) needs no changes. It works fine. It adequately defines and explains the world, as I choose to see it.”
I have changed my mind on a lot of things during my life. Most of them were smaller, non-essential kinds of things. Others, though, have been more of the big, rock-your-world variety. Some were practical. Some were ideological. Some have been theological.
All of the changes were based on new evidence. Sometime by even walking in other people’s shoes. Study and questioning and listening and wrestling were seldom easy. It took time and determination. None of the changes would have taken place without my willingness to admit my understanding would always be imperfect and limited.
Most of those changes have redefined the way I live my life. I am definitely a better man for all of it.
How about you? Are ready to do some cage-fighting with what you believe…in the pursuit of something nobler?
It’s not so bad on the mat.