People ask how certain candidates for office can gain so much support. People ask how followers of religions can resort to violence. People ask how someone can pick up a gun and go on a shooting rampage. People ask how wars can start and carry on for so long, inflicting so much death and destruction. People ask how there can be a “good” God when there is evil in the world.
My answer to these questions is usually contradictory to the assumption that people start with. I think people start with faulty assumptions about the world around them.
Often we look at the end result and are bewildered as to how we got there or as to the next step. People want to have a simple, silver bullet explanation. The fact is, there aren’t any. Many variables came together to get us to where we are today.
Here’s a question that is a good example. Why is humanity oriented towards violence?
Our entertainment is often about war, destruction, struggle, defeat, conquering and sex – base emotions that go back to our reptilian minds. Even though we mouth ideas that entertainment is meant to be relaxing and a release from the stresses of life.
Our politics is oriented towards conquering, control, police, order, compliance and authoritarianism. Even though we mouth high ideals like equality, liberty and freedom.
S0 many in religions practice their faith based on the idea of karma, vengeance, law, justice, order and compliance. Even though we mouth other high ideals like unconditional love and grace.
Our sports are not athleticism, but practice for war in order to defeat the enemy. Even though we mouth the ideals of fitness and health.
Business is oriented towards defeat of competitors. Even though we mouth the ideals of service.
Education is designed to teach people what to think and to create a worker who will follow orders. Even though we mouth ideas such as the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, growth, and exploration.
Our health care is designed to focus on treating the sick and giving incentives to those who are sick. Even though we mouth the ideas that prevention is less costly, healthier and ensures longer life.
We have ideals that are in conflict with what we actually do. What we preach is countered by what we act out. And our actions come from our beliefs about the world. While we are busy saying the ideals, we act out what we actually believe about the world.
And at some point, the questions at the top of the page come out. We wonder how these things can come about when we have such high ideals. We question these things all while we continue to act out our beliefs about the world.
Why have these ideals if we aren’t willing to implement them? Often we rationalize the ideals away by telling ourselves that the time isn’t right, the conditions aren’t right, the right people aren’t present, we don’t have the right amount of money or have the right job, etc.
Ideals don’t require perfection. They require belief and action. There will never be a time when the conditions are perfect, or even good enough. That’s true for when it’s right to have a child just as much as it is for pursuing peace. That’s because the ideals are not a destination, they are the process and the journey. All it takes is a decision to actually value the ideals and put them ahead of other things, instead of just mouthing support for them.