Within the minority of those who are largely governed by rationality and who attempt to apply reason in their dealings with others must exist a sense of the hopelessness of their position, faced as it is by the massive and immovable impediment of outmoded notions, emotionalism, and religious, political or racial doctrines in so many that we share this planet with, all of which militate against having the clear, receptive mind that is required to produce valid and sensible ideas.
Minds driven by one or more of the above fallacious world-views find it impossible to consider their position with any degree of objectivity. Moreover, no discussion is needed nor tolerated. From this position of unquestioned and self-righteous rectitude wedded to the nagging internal voice of uncertainty–which further hardens their resistance–comes the practice of shouting down your opponent. Self-examination does not apply. This promotes a circular system of quasi-reasoning that serves only to further set one’s beliefs and values.
This human predilection may be an outshoot of the principle that survival depends on taking a stern and definite stance, preferably supported by firepower. To be tolerant and open to debate implies weakness, and without forceful insistence upon your belief platform it will come under attack. Therefore, one must maintain a rigid ideological footing. And anyone or any system that differs, threatens you and defines itself as an enemy. Hatred for these individuals or societies grows naturally out of this mindset until it becomes unsustainable. And since they won’t come over to you, nor you to them, what choice do you have in what has become for you a war of ideologies . . . but to kill. Your God would surely approve, the Ten Commandments notwithstanding.
Hardest of all things to achieve in the lifelong process of maturation is to live with ambiguity: the sense that nothing is absolute, that any doctrine is full of holes, that you’re never going to be right all the time, maybe not half the time, that maybe tolerance is as close as we’ll ever get to being holy. Unfortunately, nothing is more entrenched within us than our political and religious beliefs: the invisible, unknowable, unprovable, set in uncompromising concrete in what should otherwse be a fluid medium–our minds.
This is the sheer bewildering and unthinking inertia we come up against when we ask for a more human and civilized world.