A crisis I see nowadays is that there are too many points of view and beliefs about everything. Everywhere I turn I see something different. I used to say “there are too many people, with too many points of view, stating too many different things, changing too many times”. What this has done is made any statements, ideas, beliefs, etc. a big blur. Any statement is just “another statement”, another one to add to the large long blob of statements. All this has had drastic effects in my opinion.
Some of the things its done include:
- Its devalued belief. It creates a condition where there is nothing to believe in. How can you when there are so many points of view and ‘truths’?
- Its devalued any opinion and points of view in general. I’ve had many conversations with people where they’ve actually stated, in so many words, that opinions don’t mean crap. But, we must remember, life is made up of opinions and points of view. Not only that, who and what we are made up of opinions and points of view. To devalue them is devaluing a big part of life and oneself. In some ways, to destroy them can be like destroying life, your identity, and stance in life.
- It undermines any insight that any statement may contain. Years ago, an idea meant a lot and could have great impact. A single idea can have great power. Now, the great onslaught of points of views and opinions has made them all seem insignificant. As a result, any insight contained in any point of view is lost.
- There is no consistency of point of view and belief in a population of people. A ‘people’ is based on consistency in point of view and beliefs. When this is taken away it makes a condition of lack of unity within the population. In that sense, it causes something like an undermining of a culture.
- Many points of view and beliefs go against accepted points of view and beliefs, many of which are centuries old. As a result, it creates attitudes that are undermining to the culture.
- People develop their own point of view, often independent of their culture and people around them. This creates a sense of isolation. When we have to develop them by ourselves, without the approval and support of our culture, it creates a great sense of loneliness and isolation. We can become as if ‘removed’ from our society. In this case, we cease to feel a sense of ‘belonging’. This shows that consistency in points of view and belief is a major influence on feelling that you belong.
- Because there is no consistency in point of views and beliefs there is a tendency for people to ‘blindly agree’ with everything. For many people, this is the source of their ‘belonging’ to a society.
- Because this is a ‘mass society’, dominating points of view and beliefs are often a result of trends. Seldom, though, are trends based in any wisdom, truth, or life. This creates many ‘pseudo beliefs’ that come and go like fashion trends (that’s because they are variations of the same thing).
- There is a tendency for many points of view and beliefs to reflect trivial nonsensical things. They become ‘statements of whims’ more than anything else.
- There is a tendency for points of view and beliefs to change all the time. One minute they say this, the next it changes. This goes on endlessly. I used to always jokingly say that there are three stages of belief in the U.S.: There is the belief that has been here for centuries, then they say it is wrong it make it illegal, then they forget about it altogether.
- Because of all the different points of view there is a tendency for people to disagree and argue over everything. Often, there is no reconciliation of the different points of view as there’s so many.
- It creates a nihilistic point of view in life, that there is nothing to believe in. As a result, it creates a condition where there is no meaning and hope in life.
In effect, having too many points of view and beliefs undermine a culture and ‘people’. In so doing, it undermines the individual person as well. I see this as a serious problem nowadays.
One of the sad facts about this is that this is one of the fallouts of ‘freedom of speech’. The concept of ‘freedom of speech’ actually made it so that everyone said what they wanted, helping to create this situation. I can recall, when I was a kid, that stating whatever you wanted was looked at with pride and admiration . . . and it seemed like it too. But, looking back on it now, it doesn’t quite appear that way. By the time I was an adult it was almost worthless to say anything. No one listened anyways . . . and no one cared.
It also shows the idea of a ‘melting pot’ of cultures and ideas isn’t as great as it seems. I can recall, when I was a kid, that there was a belief that having all these different viewpoints and ideas was going to create this highly productive and versatile situation. Naturally, we’d all benefit from it and our lives would be ‘improved’. There was this idea that there’d be all these resources and abilities that only need to be harnessed. It was like the ‘possibilities were endless’. What actually seemed to of happened is that all these ideas and points of view were like a soup with all the ingredients mixed together to the point that you can’t distinguish the taste of anything anymore.
It shows that a lot of what makes points of view and belief valid is a result of a ‘collective truth’. What I mean by this is that to have a ‘truth’ in a society there must be a consistency in belief. You can’t have people contradicting everything and opposing everything all the time. Nor can you have differing viewpoints everywhere you turn. Not only that, these point of view, beliefs, and truths must be demonstrated repetitively. That is to say, they can’t keep changing all the time.
It seems to me that the era of ‘ideas as power’ seems to be over as a result of this crisis. There was a time when an idea could, by itself, contain great power and influence. Now, since there are so many, an idea must be backed by some other thing to contain any power at all. These might include money, political influence, and support of mass opinion. In these cases the ‘truth’ of an idea is no longer important but more the effect of the intention of the power. In some ways, points of view, opinion, belief, are like ‘side shows’ to the other mechanisms of power.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen