To me the fundamental problem currently affecting our country is not a political one. It is the difference between fact and belief.
Facts are real things: it is a fact that the earth is round – a ball-shaped object embedded in a substrate we call space. It is a belief for a growing number of people (yes, I said growing) that it is flat.
It is a fact that in order to understand our relationship with God, we have created belief frameworks that we call religion. Some people also believe that the religion they subscribe to was created by God Himself and all others are false, but this is not a fact. All religions are man-made.
As people grow and increase in knowledge, their belief will change. For example many people will change religious beliefs over their lifetime. Thus proving for this example that belief is not fact. Facts don’t change. Belief is a construct that is ever in flux, with the intent to come closer to a complete understanding of the world around us.
The current issues we are facing as a culture is that beliefs have been elevated to the position of facts. Many Americans believe that Donald Trump was sent by God to “save” America. These people have so distorted their position of belief that they no longer accept any evidence to the contrary. They have closed themselves off from those who are not part of this cultural subset of belief, thus preventing dissenting information. In fact, to more deeply support their belief, these people have decided that all dissenting information is coming from Lucifer or Satan (two different evil beings). Because of this dilemma, there is no longer any discourse, and therefore no opportunity of deliverance from a belief in error.
Of course there are lessor beliefs surrounding Trump, that do not include his arrival through the “blessings” of God, but the solidity of their belief is the same.
This is also true of many other issues we face today. Climate change is another one. Only 33% of Americas have a 4 year college degree, and only 2% have a Doctoral degree. Regardless of the research an individual with 4 years of college or less, may do on any given subject, this person not educationally equipped to know where or how to do appropriate study and discovery, to arrive at a reasonable result. It is not until you arrive at a Masters or greater level of education that you have been given the tools and learned the fine art of research. A 4 year degree is done in an environment very similar to high school, totally inadequate for serious study of any given discipline.
To compound these issues, a faction of extreme Christianity began co-opting media and politics during the Nixon era. This group of people believe that financial success was a blessing from God, due to their Righteousness. Never mind that many people without financial means were possibly more spiritual and God-connected than they were, they looked down on the poor as God-cursed and unworthy of help or regard. On the other side of the coin, there are very wealthy people who are without morals and ethics. If God grants money to the righteous, then why also to the unrighteous?
These self-righteous people act without consideration for the consequences of their actions, referred to as Liberty without License – evil at best, iniquitous at worst. They, by their behavior, believe “the end justifies the means”, so that whatever they do to get to their goal, they are justified by “the Grace of God”. This is not the god I understand from the teachings of Jesus, Mohammad, or other spiritual leaders.
This group of people have completely changed the dialog to an “us versus them” issue in America. They took the two-party system, which has never been this at odds with each other, and made it into a weapon. Neither Liberals or Conservatives are evil or pious – only individuals can be. There is an equal amount of those dichotomies in each. But in order to effect the financial and socio-religious change they seek, they have painted a picture of Liberals as God-hating, Christian-hating infidels that are not to be trusted. These people have to divide the population in order to seduce them to their cause. You have to be afraid of something in order for someone else to control you, so in this case, they have made people afraid of liberal philosophy. This finger pointing could have easily been directed at the Conservatives, if these religious zealots had taken over Liberal discourse. But during the Reagan administration they chose the Republican party, even though Reagan used Mediums to predict the future (which does not fit in the Christian model).
For me, the problems with Trump began long before he made it political. I saw him as a showman, shallow and immoral. He has sexual relationships with other women while married – this goes against the foundations of the Christian Faith. He steals from others using various means of subterfuge, again not Christian. I have a patient in my office that had a contract to carpet Trump Tower. When he was done, Trump only paid half of the agreed charges and told the vendor to sue him if he didn’t like it, again showing lack of ethics and morality. Over and over Trump has been dishonest, even Orwellian. And that was what shaped my opinion long before his election. “By their fruits, you shall know them.”
I have been to Russia 3 times now – 3 months the first time. I speak Russian. I have made friends in Russia that are my friends on social media. They tell me the political issues from their perspective. To ignore them is dangerous for our country. To ignore the evidence that Trump was assisted by Putin, is even more so. What IF this is correct information?! What will the blind supporters of Trump do to repair the damage to our country?? Offer “thoughts and prayers”?
The biggest problem for us is the elevation of beliefs over facts. A larger part of the population discounts problematic issues before even considering the validity of them, because they are absolutely convinced their beliefs are facts and everything else is a conspiracy.
Critical thinking vanishes in this process.
One of my favorite books has a quote: ” It requires a great and noble character, having started out wrong, to turn about and go right. All too often one’s own mind tends to justify continuance in the path of error when once it is entered upon.”
It is a human condition to deny things that conflict with our long held beliefs; it is a wiser person that is open enough to change their mind when facts may disagree.
I would present the extremism of religious fundamentalism (also secular) that refuses to adapt ideals (beliefs as you put it) to facts in this way (an excerpt from my book, Angelic Planetary Management):
Isms: The cause of so much that is wrong
What is an ism? Isms are ideologies based on ideas and not ideals, although they are falsely labeled as such. Ideals are tied to eternity whereas ideas are linked to time. An idea is a downstepped expression of an ideal; they must be linked to be true. Fact separated from truth is falsity.
Isms elevate an idea into a panacea, an end-all solution for living. They are ideas of the external, material world (hence the term, material idealism) without insight from the cosmic realm. An ism promotes an idea as a total solution without it fitting into the whole (cosmos). Many super-intelligent people have brilliant ideas but remain poverty-stricken in ideals.
Religious-like zeal energizes their ideologies and so they run rampant and unchecked. Isms are fueled by unwavering loyalty set in immutable tables of stone. A person zealously proselytizes others when he concludes his idea is imbued with infallibility. He is fanatic in his folly and will do whatever it takes to spread his ideas.