Most of you know I grew up in the borough of the Bronx in New York City. What you may not know is that there are wealthy parts of the Bronx. Some sections of the Bronx are historic, and the architecture—particularly on homes—is from the 1700s and 1800s. That, however is not where I grew up. I didn’t live in the worst part of the Bronx, but it was only a small step up. Many people who grow up in more ghetto neighborhoods often turn their surroundings into an important part of who they are. It becomes a part of their personality. When I left the Bronx, more than a few of the people I grew up with viewed my leaving as me abandoning them or thinking I was better than them. With the exception of a select few, no one wished me well or even said goodbye. I wanted out of that hellhole. I desired a change. I’ve never regretted the decision to leave.
Changing opinions you’ve held for decades or even for a couple of years is hard. Especially if people know you for those ideas. Someone who has always thought that Ford vehicles are superior to Chevrolet may have clothes and paraphernalia that represent Ford and people begin to associate the man and Ford. When people think of him, they immediately say to themselves, “That man is a Ford guy!” If the Ford guy suddenly abandons Ford for Dodge, his boys may give him a ton of crap for it. Why? Because being a Ford guy has become part of his identity.
Politics is another realm in which people’s beliefs are connected to their identity. I purposely used the term “belief” because most people’s political views are based on faith. One believes that if they can get their political philosophy implemented, they can elicit change. The problem is that, in most cases, their philosophy has “never been tried.” They truly are operating on faith. And people who subscribe to a particular philosophy always find a way to connect with others who believe as they do.. The internet has made that simple. Groups form and their ePhilosophy becomes an integral part of their identity. Since we are at a moment in history in which most people have more online friends than they do in real life, the camaraderie that their philosophy has brought about becomes very important to them. Even crucial.
What if one day one of the members of the ePhilosophy group starts to question the philosophy’s core tenets? At first, the rest of the group may inquire as to why. Some of the more faithful in the group may immediately begin to scold him. If the one who is questioning the philosophy goes beyond mere questioning and attempts to poke holes in the core of the philosophy, the rest of the group will most likely become hyper-defensive and begin to accuse the heretic of not holding to the faith anymore. The questioner may now even start to hear accusations of being immoral or worse. What the questioner does next depends on how important identification with the faith is to them. If identification with this group is of high importance, they may decide to stop asking questions and go back to towing the philosophical line to keep faith with the group. But, if they realize they can no longer reconcile toeing the line of the group with the questions they have, change needs to be made.
Categories: Culture Wars/Current Controversies
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