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11 March, 2009

Beliefs: Be Different

Q: Tell me about a belief, idea, or position that many people hold, which you do not.

The flip side of the coin. There are many ways in which we can identify ourselves, or stand as unique among our peers, and society. One of the ways is to reject common beliefs. I might argue that people can be just as righteous and proud (and perhaps, stubborn) about what they do not belief, as they are about what they do believe. The problem is, I asked the question wrong. I forgot to even ask the Why? part, so no surprise I got a laundry list of What? and no as much insight as I would like into the real question about how we form beliefs, or conversely, how we reject them.

Nonetheless, this one was interesting because, while people are reluctant to tell you what they do believe, that no one else believes, they're much more willing to tell you what they don't believe, that everyone else does. I guess that makes sense, because there's far less vulnerability in sitting down in a crowd, than in standing up in one.

Here, I am going to give you some verbatims again, because they're anonymous enough that I am not blowing anyone's cover:

"God exists"

"Children make you immortal or somehow bring more love to your life"

"Baby Jesus is going to come down out of a cloud and orchestrate the end of the world"

"Most people swear by Costco and like paying to get in the store, pay the same prices, wait in long lines, and act like they're cool because they shop at Costco"

"The path to happiness lies in material goods"

"That having children is necessary or even a good idea"

Interesting. Three categories:  God, Family, Consumerism

Obviously, the respondents were all very far left of center, in terms of views of typical Americans. But it is a bit ironic that these are supposedly things that "most people believe, that they do not believe" and yet the answers clustered in these rather predictable pairs, on fairly mainstream topics. But I guess it's a valid point. The vast majority of people (in this country) believe in God. The vast majority of people (in all countries) have children. The vast majority of people (in this country) live their lives working to have more stuff, good stuff, new stuff, different stuff, really old stuff that's worth a lot, etc. 

So, people who are far left are the 10% fringe that doesn't subscribe to some of the fundamental things that most people subscribe to.

So, what would people on the far right say? What would my friend, the uber-conservative, say? What things does she not believe that most people believe? Well, recalling the "interview" with her that started this whole thing, I could take some guesses: She probably does not believe that everyone should be entitled to healthcare. I suspect this because she said it. I'm not pulling it out of my ass. She believes strongly that Israel has a fundamental right to exist, and to protect itself. That is probably not a majority in this country. She believes that, by and large, we do things far better here in the United States than in any of the European countries. She might assert that we should not be regulating guns and reducing people's rights to bear arms. Perhaps I should ask her these questions, and give her the opportunity to respond. But I think it's a fair bet I'm right on a few counts.

So the far right talks about: Gun Control, Palestine, Socialism

The nuts on the left hate God, Family, and Consumerism.
The nuts on the right hate Gun Control, Palestine, Socialism.

I realize this is about as non-scientific an analysis as something could possibly be.

But I am definitely amusing myself, and that's got to count for something, doesn't it?

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