Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
We are addicted to the idea that what we believe is the truth. Believing that I am right produces a sense of security in me, it positions me in the face of the uncertainties of a changing life with something that I adopt which is secure and permanent.
We tend to treat our ideas and beliefs as if they were real things with their own existence and we defend them against all comers, sometimes, ferociously. Why?
We tend to defend whatever we consider to be “ours”, like my house, my family and my partner. We do the same with ideas and beliefs. We convert them into prized mental possessions.
But, what is more, there is another aspect of the matter: we cling to and identify with them, so that I become my ideas and beliefs. So that by identifying myself with them, I defend them as if they were an arm or leg that people want to rip off.
We do not normally corroborate our ideas and beliefs, we accept them without further ado. We do not consider that, for example, if we had been born in the Congo or in the USA, we would have had other beliefs and these would have been the beliefs of other people (like yours now) which would seem strange, absurd or laughable to us.
I wonder whether you have ever checked the truth of your ideas and beliefs.
Most of you, will not have done.
If we did it seriously, it would not occur to us to think that the beliefs of other people are absurd and that they are the ones who should change them.
Your grandparents or great grandparents had different thoughts and beliefs from you.
Would you say that they were wrong and that you are right?
If we do not cling to what we think, we are able to feel free and we do not need to divide the world into those who agree with us and those who do not.
That is the start of any conflict, big or small: identification.
Is it better to defend an idea or belief that others think is mistaken, or to be happy and live in peace, which is what life is about?