Thursday, September 25, 2008


Religions often claim to be the one true church or faith. Any one of them might be right for all I know but they can’t all be right and the notion is genius. It has the effect of locking people into an “all or nothing” perspective.

Reminds me of what my Dad would often say if I disagreed with him politically… “why don’t you move to Russia then” or “you just as well jump off a bridge.”

While I have a deep personal faith, for 30 years now, I haven’t overtly practiced formal or structured religion like the one in which I was raised. But deep down, major parts of that belief system is still a part of me.

I was also Republican when I grew up because my Mother and Father were…until I learned that in my past there had been Republicans who leaned toward FDR and Democrats who admired Dwight D. Eisenhower (not only as President but a great Grandfather figure growing up) and that I could pick and choose parts of both or be an Independent.

Political action committees, political parties, nationalism, regionalism, “being true to your school“, etc. can also have the effect of being the “one true church.” Meaning, they seem like tribal affiliations that help a lot of people make quick, all or nothing decisions…like straight ticket voting.

Very efficient when you think about it. But they seem to breed ideologues, who put being consistent above thinking.

And that’s where it breaks down for me…when people start to think “all or nothing.” Either you buy into every precept of the group or you don’t and then you’re unfaithful. So that if one precept is challenged, it has the effect of challenging an entire belief system.

This leads people or forces them to choose between a right to hunt or banning assault weapons or handguns in certain jurisdictions where they are a big problem and hunting isn’t the issue at all.

It forces people to choose between right to life and quality of life. Or to believe a 1 cent tax on prepared meals is regressive so if you are for it, you must not care about social and economic justice.

These belief systems worry me when they become controlling…when you’re either on my team or you’re not…when they chill debate and critical thinking vs. serve as a context to ask questions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reyn, Found this post randomly during a Google search but wanted to let you know that I think it's very insightful. The "all or nothing" mentality is killing America. In his farewell address, George Washington warned against partisanship and allegiance to political parties. While parties serve a purpose to help organize the like minded, we should all remember that we are Americans first and, occasionally, must turn our backs on any affiliation less important than that. Thanks!