Sadly, while I now remember the episode that you were talking about, I do not have the post. I asked some of my friends if they remembered what the post said, but they to have forgotten. So if you ask me it sounds like you come out ahead because: 1- it was apparently a very forgettable post. 2- I feel like I owe you a post. 3- I used to be a lot angrier. So I am going to write on that experience again. It won’t be the same, but hopefully that means it will be better.
It is very difficult for a person to change who they are. This is where the old adages like, “A tiger never changes its stripes,” come from. As an example, in high school, I was a total jock. I think I graduated with more gym credits than science credits. Since I graduated about ten years ago, I have lived in 15 different places. Of those fifteen times, there were five different times when I started completely over. I went to a place where I did not know anybody. Every time, when I started meeting new people, I was known as the jock. To this day, my fiends think of me as a jock. They joke about it because we are all nerds, but I am still the jock. This is not a comment on my friends; it is a comment on me. I know how to be the jock. It is comfortable for me to be the jock. Even though I have had many opportunities to reinvent myself, I come back to being the jock.
Now you are probably wondering what this has to do with what was written on the other blog, which was the initial point of your inquiry. In today’s America, while racism and sexism are still alive, they are not acceptable in the majority of society. Being labeled a racist or sexist would be hurtful to most people. However, there is another form of prejudice that is not only growing, it is being encouraged by the media, government, and I believe, even in many schools. I call it beliefism. It is a prejudice against people who do not share your same beliefs. I am not referring here only to religious beliefs, but to any closely held belief.
A person’s beliefs are core to who they are. People in general do not like to be challenged on who they are. This has led to beliefism. A typical person, when challenged on their beliefs, does not listen rationally to the argument presented that goes against his or her beliefs. They instead give the person making the argument a label that the two people do not share. The person who is challenged then attaches negative adjectives to the uncommon label and dismisses the argument. As an example, I have a friend who is an atheist. He also really hates religion. He recently said some things that were insulting to a religious group. When some people expressed their displeasure at what he had said, he labeled them irrational, and dismissed what was said. This is an example of beliefism. It is not limited to atheists or liberals, but is prevalent among all walks of life. If my friend actually read this far he is probably saying, “But it is irrational.” You may be thinking it is irrational to believe in religion as well. Fine. The point is not that you have to believe the same as other people. The point is that when you simply attach a label, you are practicing beliefism. If it is irrational, explain why you think it is irrational. Don’t simply label. That was what upset me about the post that you initially asked about. Odds was practicing beliefism. She did not like your point of view; she labeled you young and religious. Since she does not think of herself in either of these ways, it was then easy to slap the adjectives of immature and blinded to these labels and dismiss you. Instead of discussing the points you raised, or better yet explaining why she herself felt that the Dakota abortion ban was wrong, she labeled and dismissed. Beliefism. While I do not agree with her position on abortion, the beliefism is what upset me more.
Some researchers believe that we are hardwired to discriminate. From an evolutionary perspective this makes perfect sense. While a primitive man may have been willing to sleep in the same case as other primitive men, he would not be willing to sleep in the same case as a saber tooth tiger for example. He was discriminating. Those that were not discriminating soon became food for something else and died out without being able to procreate and pass on their nondiscriminating genes.
However, as I have said in the past about other topics, genetic predisposition is not predeterminism. While we may be inclined to discriminate, we do not have to discriminate.
Now to wrap all of this up. A person’s beliefs are very close to the core of that person. Call it the soul or the essence or whatever. In today’s society, we are not likely to be eaten by anything. However, when we are attacked at our essence, it is the modern day equivalent of being eaten. People discriminate without thinking in order to protect themselves, because, as the example I gave at the beginning, it is very hard for a person to change who they are. We do not want to be presented with logical arguments that challenge our self-description because then we might have to change our self-description. Beliefism is merely self-protection. The problem with beliefism is that it causes us to reject other points of view merely because they do not gel with our points of view. I firmly believe that abortion is wrong in most circumstances. No argument is going to change my view of that. However, I need to recognize that there are very good and persuasive arguments that are in favor of allowing a woman to choose whether to abort a pregnancy or not. The fact that these are good arguments does not mean that my beliefs are wrong. It simply means that depending on how you view the issue; a particular argument will have more weight with you than another. This is why two people of equal intelligence, of equal dedication, and equal comprehension of the issue can differ on perspective. Having different views is not wrong. Having a popular or unpopular view is not wrong. Beliefism is what makes it wrong.
The other problem with beliefism is that it is so easy to recognize in other people, and so hard to see in yourself. I would not be surprised if some of my friends comment and say, “you do beliefism all the time, look at what you said about X.” I wish I could say that they are wrong, but I don’t know. I know that I have done it in the past, and had a friend call me on it. I do think it is exceptionally important that we guard against it in ourselves, and hopefully in 150 years, people will look back at beliefism as most of us look back at racism.
Now on another note, I would appreciate it if you would tell your parents about this site. I have a daughter and if she were 16 and getting a post from a 28 year old I would at least want to know about it. Also, I really hope your real name isn’t Abby XXXX, but if it is, don’t use it online anymore ok. Last summer I learned a lot of crappy stuff about what people can do with just your real name, especially to minors. Abby, thank you for coming to my site and reminding me of this. I think it is important to remember and guard against in ourselves.