This is none-too-subtle but at the very least it’s interesting because we really should (must) interrogate what we believe and why we believe it more. And on the whole, we really don’t. There’s no reason to, after all, no external pressure to do so (certainly not in our culture). Our identity and ego so easily get wrapped up in our ‘beliefs’ (I’m left-wing, I’m liberal etc) that any undermining of them quickly causes us to get defensive. Yet I’ve encountered plenty of people who would call themselves ‘socialists’ who believe, for example, that they earn £40,000 a year because of their innate superiority to most other people; or that ‘socialism’ is largely whatever the Labour Party happens to be doing at the time. Your peer group is hugely important in all of this and a key question regarding beliefs is whether you would hold onto it even when it caused difficulties, even unpopularity, in your immediate circle – a question which I’m sure most of us would instinctively answer yes we would but then you find yourself having an awkward moment in the pub and you think it’s easier to just change the subject. We don’t connect the latter to the former because we think we hold onto the belief inside but that’s when it’s little more than ego masturbation. We extend that to a whole group when we surround ourselves with people who don’t challenge us (and whom we don’t challenge). Rather than being off-limits, conversations about first principle beliefs (extended into ideologies and beyond) should be welcomed. Challenges, arguments and disagreements which don’t become thinly-veiled battles for supremacy should be celebrated. The alternative is intellectual laziness, stagnation and an unearned and unappealing certitude.
Hey some really wise guy once summed this up as ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’ so what do I know?