Friday, August 29, 2008

Vested II

The days are long and full and lots of the nights are spent writing reports. Last night I had a rare chance at a "no time limit" internet access, so I went for it, dead tired and all. End result is that I wrote only part of what I intended. Here's what got me thinking:

We all believe certain things. I'm not sure whether belief is on a scale or binary. I think it is binary- one either believes in a specific god or doesn't; either believes that a specific political decision was good policy or self-serving corruption. I don't see a lot of people believing sort of in a god or that a decision was mostly good policy but partially corrupt. But maybe they do and the language just doesn't express it that way.

But people can certainly be more vested in a belief than other people with the same belief.

I was talking to a man the other day and we share a lot of the same beliefs and concerns. We have a similar vision of what a good life entails and similar concerns about how aspects of civilization endanger that vision. The obvious difference is that these are just things I believe and these are part of who he is.

(It doesn't matter what the belief is- whether he wears hemp and birckenstocks or boots and knife and compass, there comes a point when it is a costume, a person crying out "this is me, this is who I am.")

So that was the obvious aspect- how others will see you, identify you. If you are too vested it seems irrational and your opinions, right or wrong, are easy to dismiss. If you don't vest in your opinions (and I tend not to- many strong beliefs have vanished in the flames of real life over the years) you get read very differently.

Some, the self-absorbed, just assume that you agree with them.
Some see silence or a lack of strong opinion as wisdom. Maybe.
The thing that struck me though, is that the strongly invested mistrust people with less investment. As if they expect that being labelled is proof of belief.
It is a test, I think. Trying to find someone to join their mental tribe. Just a thought.

This probably should have been an edit to last night's post.


Hardy said...

I am not sure it is possible to separate what a person believes from who he is. Are we not a product of our cumulative beliefs? How can you be disappointed in a person who has conviction enough to stick to his belief system? Some would call that integrity.

Unknown said...

Convictions and belief systems do make up the sum of who we are, but I have to wonder where the level of vesting/investment comes into play that creates the fanatic or the zealot.

That's what I think the wise person tries to avoid by keeping a mind that is open to others opinions.

Kai Jones said...

I am uneasy about your leaving ambiguity and uncertainty out of your analysis; I hope you just didn't discuss them this time. I live with a lot of ambiguity; I'd say that it's a certainty that I believe ambiguity is real, more real than certainty.

My pleasure has often come from choosing, deciding, and acting without certainty. I chose a religion without belief in G-d. I don't want the certainty that comes because, having chosen, I have foreclosed my options; that is a mist, a veil, a pretense that I have affected reality.

It's too early and I'm too sober for this.

Kami said...

Conviction and commitment are great qualities and I respect them. But they're a two-edged sword. There are wrong things to commit to, and remaining committed to them can destroy you.
Choosing and acting without certainty is also very valuable. Following the gut, leaving possibilities open, embracing diversity--all these things require ambiguity and uncertainty.
We need them both. For example if you want to jump a long distance you have to commit absolutely and give it your all without reservation. But if you want to explore new possibilities, to learn a different way, or to change and grow, you have to accept uncertainty. Both require tremendous courage, and I think it may even be the same kind of courage.

Anonymous said...

"The greatest indicator of someone's intelligence is how much they agree with you."

Illogic said...

As long as you can admit to being wrong I don't think it matters too much. Both can, as has been said, be good and bad.
The thing we/I need to figure out when exploring is what things are worth committing to.
But then again, how do you know what you've decided is the right thing to stick to?
I don't think you can be totally sure, but if turns out you were wrong, admit it and move on. If it is right, or works out for a long time at least, awesome.

Anonymous said...

I have seen people destroy their lives trying to become what they believe and conversely by never being open to believe in becoming anything.
This is very present and tragic in the field of medicine, practicing medicine (while striving to keep doing it well/better) and spending you life trying to "be" a healer take you down very different paths.
Spending too much time "being" something can keep you from seeing the world around you and growing as a person.
And I am sure there are many readers here who have seen those who roll over and never make an attempt to stand on their own two feet.
It is a bit ironic since what tends to drive people to both extremes of this is fear. Of lacking something or of failure, or of losing control.....etc

Nurse Ratchett