Rigidly defending our minds

I’m trying to develop thoughts about why so many of us find it hard to face that, sometimes, what we hold to be true may be wrong. Or, why it’s so hard for us to change our minds or to consider new ways of thinking that might be beneficial to us. Why do we find it hard to listen to people with different viewpoints – either to learn from them if they have a useful new perspective, or to listen to them respectfully while they talk through what they think? (Listening respectfully provides the context for later asking calm and thoughtful questions, which can help people notice whether or not their perspective fits with reality.)

This is where I’m up to so far.

The societies we presently live in are inhuman, in the sense that they force everyone to fit into inhuman ways of behaving and thinking.
Children arrive in the world with completely flexible minds. Their innate flexibility and humanness immediately brings them into sharp conflict with the inhuman society. The battle between the clear, human mind of the child, and the rigidity of adults – who long ago capitulated to much of the rigidity of the society – is long and hard. The desperate struggle of the child is also largely misunderstood and misrepresented as ‘selfish,’ ‘unruly’ and ‘defiant’ by adults, who are often completely unaware of what they (we) are doing.
The child desperately tries to hold onto their innate human perspective but always loses this battle in the end. They start out more loving and flexibly-intelligent than the adults but are so vulnerable and dependent when very young that their defeat is inevitable. This defeat was deeply traumatic to each of us. No one was able to help us recover from the defeat because they had been defeated too. So we each found a way hide the defeat (even from ourselves) and make the best of our lives. Some children couldn’t figure out how to hide it and this is what then gets labelled ‘mental illness’.
The end effect is that every child’s mind has been forced to believe rigid untruths. It may be easy to look around and see this happening in social groups different to your own – but I am suggesting that this happened to everyone, including those of us who assume that we are the ‘good people’. (The very fact that we might assume that we are the good ones is an effect of this process.)
Later, when we are adults, if we are confronted with something that might force us to change our minds – or is simply different to what we have come to believe, rightly or wrongly – the desperate childhood struggle to hold onto our own perspective gets stirred up in our minds.
It doesn’t matter if the new information or new way of thinking will benefit us or not – the dominant factor is often the terrible reminder of our young minds being forced into defeat. This feels almost unbearable, and so we do anything we can to not face this feeling. We might move away from the apparent source of the difficulty: people who say things we can’t bear to listen to. Or, we might shout them down, or use ‘logic’ to beat them into submission, winning the argument but losing the person.

Is it possible for us to look at the points in our young lives where our minds were beaten into submission?  Can we recover from those experiences of accepting defeat rather than unawarely living within the limitations they set?

Central Ideas

Human beings are capable of high levels of cooperation, love and caring. However, for thousands of years most of us have been living in societies that systematically suppress these human qualities. These inhuman social systems now function to sustain themselves, the systems, not the people within them...

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