How Belief’s Divide

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Glendale, California

How Beliefs Divide

You cannot not have beliefs.

And, yet, your beliefs are necessarily divisive.


If you’re a staunch Democrat, then you’ve created a projected negative “other,” the Republicans. The nameless group container becomes filled with generalizations like narcissism, traditionalism, conservatism, originalism, and the like.

If you’re an evangelical Christian, then your beliefs necessarily indict those who, say, are Muslim or Jewish.

It’s quite a bind.

The evolutionary psychologist, Steven Pinker, believes such “us versus them” thinking is built into our DNA.

The solution?


And, here’s a mind-blowing paradox:

How can you be tolerant of the non-tolerant?

One hard boundary consists of:

FANATACISM, meaning:

Zealotry, Militancy, Extremism, Sectarianism.

How then to have tolerance for fanatics?

The motivation for this post emerged partially from the upcoming US elections, and partially from the terrifically sad death of RBG.

Mostly, though, this quotation from Krishnamurti captured my attention:

… belief invariably divides people: there is the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Christian, the communist, the socialist, the capitalist, and so on. Belief, idea, divides; it never brings people together.

It seems safest, then, to hold lightly to your beliefs.

Consider them, perhaps, like angels.

It is said they fly easily because they never take themselves too seriously.

Good luck with the struggle.

Again, the extremes are simple:

Not having any belief really isn’t an option.

Having any kind of fanatical, “true believer” belief system, is problematic.

And what about finding tolerance, or even acceptance, for the intolerant?

Tough questions for an otherwise lovely Sunday afternoon.


Hoffer, E. (1989). The true believer: thoughts on the nature of mass movements. New York: Harper and Row. Original work published in 1951.

Krishnamurti, J. (1954). The first and last freedom. New York: Harper and Row.

Pinker, S. (2002). The blank slate: the modern denial of human nature. New York: Penguin.

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