2011-10-11

A-Creed Or Dis-A-Creed?

Do we unfairly judge others based on their personal creeds?

I refer to two situations from recent personal experience to illustrate:

Occupy Wall Street
In a recent Facebook discussion, I voiced the opinion that I neither side with "Wall Street banks" nor with "the other 99%." What I mean is that there is always marketplace responsibility held by all market agents. That one party is rich or poor should not change the fundamental fact that we must all take responsibility for our own actions. I further provided the opinion that the primary problem in the Wall Street situation is the forever-growing money supply, and that bankers are as much victims of that policy as are the rest of us.

I do not expect everyone to agree with me, however in the context of that discussion my comments were met by the assumption that I am a conservative and that - because I consider government salaries another form of bailout - I am anti-public-school-teachers.

Faithful Stationary Waves readers know that I am not a conservative, and any participant in that discussion could easily note that I have nothing against teachers. In fact, my primary point was that we are all victims of monetary policy.

But to those who are only used to hearing the "liberal" versus the "conservative" views, I must be placed in a specific box. I don't agree with them, therefore I must be placed in whatever box they see as being the "not them" box. In this case, it was the "conservative" box, but it need not have been.

Insulin Pumps
In a separate conversation, in a roomful of type 1 diabetics, I expressed my frustration over my experience with insulin pump therapy. I went out of my way to acknowledge that pump therapy is a boon and a great course of therapy for many diabetics - but that the therapy had not worked for me, and that I expect my health care team to acknowledge this.

For the most part, folks empathized. There were one or two, however, who insisted that the settings were simply wrong on the pump, that the pump takes time to get used to, and that it provides superior blood sugar control.

For those whose experience is not the same as mine, my comments were tantamount to an outright universal rejection of pump therapy for all diabetics, period. Of course, I absolutely do not feel that way, but they thought so.

All Those Who Disagree Are: (A) Stupid, (B) Evil, (C) Political Foes, or (D) All of the Above?
On an intuitive level, we understand that disagreeing with a self-described liberal does not make one a conservative, and that opting out of a particular medical therapy for personal reasons is not the same thing as feeling that the medical therapy itself is garbage.

Somehow, though, society's tolerance for disagreements seems to have reached an all-time low. Any level of disagreement quickly disintegrates into all parties mutually self-affirming the belief that all who disagree are the enemy.

We've locked ourselves into a situation where we see disagreement itself as the problem, i.e. the fact that someone disagrees with us tells us the whole story; why they disagree is completely irrelevant. More to the point, we assume we know everything about why someone disagrees with us as soon as we note that there is a disagreement.

My Old Friend: The Creed
We are quite accustomed to fighting stereotypes when it comes to race, gender, culture, age, and so forth. We desperately need to rid ourselves of bigotry that pertains to creed.

A person's creed can refer to any of their beliefs, really. The word "creed" need not refer solely to political ideology or religious belief. To always tell the truth can be a creed; to always be respectful and kind. Adherence to Occam's razor can be a creed. And yes, one's opinions on financial bailouts or insulin pumps are part of your creed.

In all cases, when exposed to someone else's creed, if we even respect the value of common ground then we must work toward shrugging off our inherent prejudices about the creed in question. If all defenders of profit motive have about the same impact on your personal view of those people, then you should take some time to reevaluate your own prejudices. If anyone who disagrees with your taste in music is "one of those people," then you should probably re-think.

And let me be clear: Many of you who are reading this right now believe yourselves to be among the most open-minded people in the world. What I'd like to suggest is that - while we have all become practiced experts in being open-minded toward visible or tangible traits like race, gender, and so forth - we all have a long way to go before we are capable of being truly open-minded toward ideas.

Let's give it a try, anyway.