Do I feel like an adversary of those who do not share what I believe?
Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
Generally we have a blind faith in what we think and therefore believe that it is others who should change their way of thinking. We create a division between those who believe and those who believe the same as we do. Are we not creating imaginary factions based on a smoke screen of beliefs, thoughts and opinions?
Wanting to be right at any cost is a pathology that necessarily leads to confrontations that may be personal, social or political. How many wars start through having different opinions about something?
If perhaps we agree that this does not lead to anything good – why do we constantly do it? We seem to feel that our thoughts are a possession, and, therefore, something that we have to defend. We do not just treat our ideas and beliefs as personal property, but as an inherent part of us. And what we are, we defend. I will not allow myself to come off badly in a discussion, since I act as if I believe that I am the one who is being rejected and not just my ideas or my interpretations. Feeling rejected, not accepted, is something that we are not prepared to tolerate.
We all have tastes, opinions and beliefs but clinging to them and identifying with them is a mistake. They are just personal points of view that are related to our times and the society in which we grew up, our family, upbringing, past experiences and personal characteristics. But they are not the truth, even though we would like them to be.
Because of our identification with these chance mental constructs, we prevent ourselves from expanding our horizons, questioning them and understanding them better.
We need to understand that thoughts, beliefs or opinions are no more than assumptions and, as such, have not been researched nor confirmed. However, we reassert them constantly, in every conversation, in every discussion and even in our wanderings.
However, if we make an effort to suspend our assumptions, if we do not believe in anything a priori and are open to adjusting and getting rid of the ideas we form about everything, we will be in a much better position that will enable us to see more details about reality, enriching ourselves with what others see and that we have not appreciated up till now. If, faced with the urge to refute an idea, we ask ourselves honestly – what can I learn from what is being said? We may become wiser and not more obstinate.
If our ideas are normally the result of chance – why defend them? Do we not all think that we are right? I do not mean that we should not have any opinions, but that they should be reviewed carefully before being considered valid. If someone makes a personal criticism of us, let us question it, they may be right.
The fact of believing firmly in something is no guarantee that it is the truth. We need to understand and to act bearing in mind that our thoughts are not what we are. We will simply gain our freedom.