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The Lesson

A number of years ago I met a young woman with all sorts of naive ideas about politics, communism, and human nature, so  I thought I would enlighten her a bit about the real world.

Over a period of about 1/2 hour, I asked her questions about herself, her friends, and relatives, never telling her anything, only providing questions for her to consider and answer.  How would they react to various situations, what they wanted in life, etc.  During the course of this questioning, she slowly began to see that communism wasn't the answer and why the world could never become the utopian ideal that she envisioned.  The problem was  that her vision required that people behave in a manner which was contrary to human nature.  The conclusions she came to over the course of this 1/2 hour were that even she herself wouldn't behave in the manner required for it to work (which is usually the problem with utopian idealists - how people will actually behave in their uptopian society is never even considered during all their planning).  Finally, at the end of the questioning, she reached the conclusion I was looking for and said that it couldn't work because that is not how people behave.  Then she said: "but I don't like to think of people being that way, so I'm going to continue believing what I did before".

After taking a moment to digest this surprise from her, I finally got it!  I am essentially a very logical person, so when confronted with evidence of a new (to me) "truth" that contradicts my view of the world, I accept it, adjust my view of the world and behavior accordingly, and move on.  For people like this young woman, the concept of "truth" has no real meaning.  Their world view is based on what they want to believe, until extreme circumstances force them to believe otherwise, and they may only accept it for that special case or that moment in time.  The "truth" for them starts and ends with what they want to believe, because it is preferable to the "truth".  Religious and political fanatics all fall into this same category of people, and while their refusal to accept the "truth" undoubtedly screws up their personal lives tremendously, their actions in attempting to force the rest of us to ignore the truth and follow their blind beliefs do far more damage to the world around us by starting wars, engaging in various abuses of other people, etc.  Unfortunately, I am begining to suspect that people who choose belief over truth outnumber the rest of us.

At least one of us learned something from this lesson.


So it seems the trick is to help the person find the truth where their belief resides. Since humans are as humans are, I suppose you would have to talk to both their head and heart to convince them. Ya know, when I was once in an inquisitive mood, I checked to see what people's deepest truth might be. Not surprisingly to me as a biologist, it pertained to survivel and was expressed as values. I figure you should always address things that way. You might be surprised what you can do with that. If you get bored, look at Look at the left if you are just tired and want to be refreshed some. Look at the right if you want a new thought or two.Enjoy