“Hi my name is Chris and I am a recovering ideologue.”
No, I am not intending on starting a self-help group like Alcoholics Anonymous for people who are turned off to political and religious ideology, but this blog post is a bit of a confession.
Like many, attending University for me was a time of exposure to many new ideas and systems of thought. I came across a multitude of theories in psychology, sociology, history, science, and various other courses. I started looking for a system of thinking that was consistent and had an inherent integrity. I was influenced by socialism during my Social Work and Labor Studies courses. I was influenced by spiritualism during my Religion courses. While individual ideas came, evolved, and went I was convinced that that ideology in some form was the tool and method in which to solve the world’s problems.
It was that conviction that inspired me to help form the Green Party. That is where I participated in and promoted the view that it was just a simple matter of convincing everyone to think Green, or ideally adopt a Green ideology, and then we could solve the environmental and social issues plaguing Canada. The quest towards ideological purity to being the ‘Greenest’ was seen as a worthwhile goal in itself. I must confess that I adopted Green ideology despite my intuition telling me that things were off-kilter. Eventually, I listening to a few other people who had their head screwed on a bit better than me and realized a fact about ideology.
Ideology short-circuits our natural cognitive learning skills. When we adopt an ideology we begin to self-censor certain thoughts because suddenly they no longer fit with our avowed new philosophy. We begin rooting out unfit thinking so that we are not tainted by it. Suddenly, we find ourselves no longer thinking but automatically following a prescribed thinking pattern that is based not on how things work but on a perceived facsimile of what reality is.
So I have done a 180 degree change, as I now see ideology as the curse of civilization. I now believe for anybody to accept something as fact just because somebody else says so is an abdication of our human responsibility and potential. The ideological problem exists in all layers of society as ideology in the form of Institutional Thinking is the single biggest reason why businesses, NGOs, and governments fail to deliver what they aim to.
Ironically, what I am saying sounds no different than any ideological statement. “Believe me because I said so.” So in the spirit of my new found realization, I am not asking that you believe what I say. I am asking you to consider it.
I say that living without ideology is the only way to live life fully. I also say that it is something you must actually experience for yourself since believing me (or anybody else) won’t help.