This constant battle can exact a huge toll. I sometimes wonder where all these arguments came from and why I couldn’t have just avoided them.
There is a huge difference between a fundamentalist and a free thinker in this battle for ideas: the fundamentalists are trying control everyone else, the freethinkers want to be involved with the processes of making a world where they can be happier.
My claim that fundamentalists are trying to control stems from the pattern closer inspection of their behavior reveals. The pattern that emerges is mostly concerned about imposing their will on what is “theirs”. There is a gross amount of egocentric rationalization and not any allocentrism in the pattern of behavior. Strangely this control quickly extends to thoughts, words, and Ideas. It even gets more apparent when anecdotes of the extreme just confirm the overwhelming opinion.
The anecdote of the woman who complained to a school that the dictionary contained an offensive definition, the constant attacks on secularism, and the moral superiority are all patterns of control. One particular degree of control that gets really irrational is the easily offended sensibilities, when they consider themselves immune to criticism.
As much as they are free to criticize people who deviate from their arbitrary sensibilities, they don’t seem to realize this goes both ways. They don’t see that relative to other people, they are different and subject to the same criticism.
It’s funny to see someone who criticizes other people’s beliefs take offense when they are criticized. There is that very subjective and arbitrary moral point of view in action. It’s quite interesting to see someone who assumes that people who agree with him/her have a perfectly homogeneous point of view.
The delusional, those who think they are above criticism, don’t appreciate the world of the freethinker. A world where if everyone is free to criticize each other, one better have some good answers to why they do what they do. There are no cop outs and no argumentum vericundum. The world of the Freethinker is hard; even if he/she can fire a better argument back, there is just few of him/her surrounded by multiple opposition and barriers. Even if their arguments are better crafted and honed after long experiences in the “battlefield”, they can be rendered instantly useless by those who have compartmentalized or isolated reason into one small aspect of their mind.
Living in blissful irrationality is really a choice not everyone is willing to give up. In a pragmatic view: if it’s easier, why not do it? Unfortunately, it is the irrational adherence and diligence to reason and some degree of altruism that cause free thinkers to be masochists or have a strong resistance to hyperbolic discounting.
It is easy to give up, and that option is always open; it would be so much easier than hitting one’s head against a brick wall of crazies. Unfortunately, irrationality only brings freethinkers further into the battle through escalation of commitment, which both sides suffer.
So what is a freethinker ought to do? On this, I go to Sun Tzu:
“A general does what he needs to do, regardless of what it may appear”.
It’s hard not to let the same irrationality controlling the crazies get the better of oneself. It is best to break off, even if it would make one appear weak. Then proceed to save strength, rally mental forces and proceed with a different plan of attack.
The Freethinker is powerless or less helpful when burned out. It would be ideal that he/she chooses the battles better, take into account war weariness and start having and developing an exit strategy.
Looking at constructive methodology from Qualia Soup: starting off constructive statements has a built-in exit strategy. The second the other side stops being reasonable, it’s a quick, clean and easy termination. It follows the same principle of preparation through conditioning and a well-thought approach. Since it does take some time to dig up the empirical data, there is an implied proposition of the amount of work needed to come up with an objective conclusion: allowing people to make the practical decision if they have time to really undertake that data gathering needed.
Imagine only having to deal with constructive statements. Instead of a wide angle search, you can begin with a more narrow and easily defined search parameter. There is no “opinion” – just facts and data. It’s like looking over a math formula to check if it was done right. Wouldn’t that be so much easier than escalating into argument where emotions begin to color the exchange of information?
Rest for the Weary, comes from working smarter.