Third Party & Independents Archives

Political dogma, beliefs and faith

It seems that becoming a member of a political party is a lot like getting religion. Defense of a particular party’s position seems to be based more on a belief that your side is right rather than logic or reason. Party operatives on both the left and right simply will not yield a point no matter how absurd their position has become. When mindsets like this confront the current threats facing this country you have a disaster in the making. Maybe it’s time to examine how to change a persons mind.

How do you convince people to change their minds? How do you combat a dogmatic belief? How do you go to war with a faith? My view of belief and faith is this: a person believes because he believes. It has been my observation that most people adopt a belief because of emotions not logic. A devastating live event, a life of crushing poverty or just life in the soul sucking, monotonous, impersonal technological age. A faith or belief may make you happy or give you purpose, but you don’t adopt one because you are a happy content person at peace with the world. A belief fills the emotional void that logic, reason and Prozac cannot.

Adopting a belief is a huge emotional investment. It is very much a life or death decision to acquire a “faith”. An individual who has done this is not going to give up his “faith” over a little thing like logic. To do so would be equivalent to death. In fact death is preferable to renouncing your faith or belief. I think this is because the foundation of a believer’s sanity is his faith. Unable to cope with the brutal nature of life they have opted out. They have turned their life over to God/Buddha/Allah/ the Democratic or Republican Party. For the rest of their lives the question of liberal, conservative or “which religion is right “ is no longer pertinent. Like the concrete foundation of a house when the cement sets up, there is no going back. Not unless you want to risk the entire structure of your sanity. What a powerful and seductive idea. No doubt and no uncertainty. Your side or religion is RIGHT!

So how do you change a person’s mind, when that mind is clinging to the life preserver of faith and belief? The surest fire way is to give them a replacement. A well know example is the apostle Paul who had an epiphany and switched from a persecutor of the Jesus movement to a member. (Please note: I am just using this as an example. No particular religious endorsement is intended)

Another possibility is good debating technique and logical argument. Because of the emotional issues stated above this is not an easy task, but it is possible. Finger by finger you can pry them away from their emotion safety blanket. An extreme version of this is called deprogramming. Since law enforcement frowns on kidnapping people and locking them in the cellar I do not recommend deprogramming as a viable solution. If you have long term access to a person you could try constantly pointing out the logical flaws of their beliefs. Chances are the only thing you will accomplish is the individual in question will stop talking to you.

The last way to chance a persons mind is the most unpleasant. It involves blood and misery. I am definitely NOT advocating this. I am just reporting what I have observed. 9/11 and Afghanistan are a good example of how a bunch of dead bodies win over dogma. After 9/11 seventy to eighty percent of Americans agreed on invading Afghanistan. Before 9/11 you would be lucky to get 30 percent. Iraq is another good example, as the body count grows support for the war has diminished. Weighing in on the side of misery are unemployment and inflation.

I don’t know if any of this will help pull people away from extremist dogmatic beliefs or cause them to reexamine their worldview, but I do enjoy pontificating.

Posted by at April 18, 2004 4:09 PM