“There is no difference between mother and baby snakes, they are equally poisonous.” – Kenyan proverb
Just because the world feels flat and solid beneath our feet does not mean it is so. Sadly, this was the belief the majority of our humanity, held for over a millennia before the courageous acts of a few consistently shouting the facts in every generation changed our belief. Why it took tens of centuries is baffling. But it says a lot about how we prioritise truth and accuracy.
Many of us do not care whether what we believe is accurate or not. As long as we are told something over and over again, we believe, especially if it comes from our kin and kith. It is because belongingness, from time immemorial, has always been our best survival kit. Truth and accuracy are luxuries that came along as we climb up the ladder of needs.
Many studies in the field of psychology have revealed the positive relationship between our social status and our belief systems. We exert a lot of mental energy gauging where we want to belong, and then undertake the actions necessary to make us fit in. Chief amongst this, is our belief system. For many of us, our beliefs rests on the fact that it makes us look good in the eyes of the tribes we belong to, and not because it is accurate.
For example many young persons embrace the charismatic notion of religion rather than the orthodox because it makes them fit into modernism. There is not much we can do about it because more often than not, our social connections are actually important and more helpful to our aspirations, ambitions and daily strivings than the truth about life. We might not readily agree, but we are often proud of our beliefs because of the sense of belonging that comes along with it. The larger the tribe, the bigger the pride of our belief.
Common sense denotes that one should always believe in that which is true and good. This notion inspires many of us to take for granted that the beliefs held by the majority follow that trend. As a result, many of us never bother to seek the accurateness of our beliefs.
An example is the belief we have in our political systems. For centuries the world has been divided into the left and the right, with each making claims as to their ideology being the best. Interestingly, both sides have had a chance to rule, and both sides have failed the world miserably, yet when individuals try to point out the flaws in our political beliefs, they are detested.
Many of us have lots of beliefs that are baseless and illusory, but we live according to them anyway. The desire to belong, especially to the majority topples the truth about reality. Have you not noticed how when faced with a dilemma to choose between our social connections and the truth, many people opt for the former.
We would rather keep quiet over the truth as long as the propagated is a member of our tribe. It does not matter what the end result would be, it is important we stay knitted. This insight not only explains why we blind support our political and religious leaders, but it also reveals to us why truth has never been the priority of our humanity.
Paulo Cuello knew this when he asserted that “we are what we believe ourselves to be.” We know instinctively that “nothing is more natural and also more necessary and beneficial to humanity than pursuing the truth;” but we believe the truth can never be told, and so many of us bother. Our herd mentality and our social ties inhibits this quest. And since many of us have lapsed into the habit of simply swallowing what our tribe mates tell us over and over, it is extremely difficult to combat this inclination.
As someone once said, “facts don’t change minds. Friendship does.” It is the people we are comfortable with who can change our worldviews. But more often than not, these people hold about the same worldviews as we do. And to top it all, we expend a lot of energy striving to win others into our tribe, instead of questioning our beliefs. We are so caught up in winning, we forget to collaborate in order to bring about truth.
It is said that “our beliefs are the compass by which we navigate the landscape of reality, steering our actions and thus shaping our impact on that very reality.” But when we what we believe, is not a measure of the quality of evidence but of the narrations that we have been told over and over again, then we create challenges for ourselves. To this end, we need to test our beliefs every now and then. We need to ask the right questions instead of seeking answers to what we believe. It is a means by which we can align our beliefs with truth instead what our tribe members tell us. It is a means by which we can weed out the many challenges plaguing our humanity.
>>>Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and helps them to positively respond to that which is beautiful is, whilst nudging them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]