I’m beginning to believe that the intense fears of powerlessness and obscurity are what drive people to engage in social and political argumentation.
Every day I’m inundated with it. Everyone has a stark opinion on one thing or another, and none of them truly bear enough knowledge of the situation to have an educated or credible opinion. They have a generalized view of it, with no knowledge of the nuances surrounding it. The details aren’t present in their minds, but what they have is, in their minds, always enough information to put forth an opinion, the opposition against which is an unimaginable state of delusion.
It’s remarkable, when you think about it, that one could glaze over countless opinions from armchair philosophers just like themselves and still come out with the absolute faith that their own opinion is far more reasoned. Or to take a position on a political issue about which they only have a cursory and given (not gleaned) amount of information.
People have an insatiable drive to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They’ll dig for something to fight for when something isn’t presented to them by people with whom they’ve aligned themselves. It’s all an elaborate piece of performance art. What drives us isn’t a sense of justice anymore. That’s just a convenient excuse for what’s really taking place, which is an unquenchable thirst for purpose. It’s a latent defense mechanism against the growing sense of ennuis that inevitably rises from the decline of religious beliefs which once comforted people with the idea that they have an innate cosmic purpose and importance.
That’s not to say that we aren’t doing the right thing by fighting for social justice and other ideologies, but in many cases it’s still an argument by fallacy. The motivation is something much deeper than what you feel superficially. It’s real for those directly affected, those fighting for themselves, and for some who are affected by those who are affected, but for many, it’s just a matter of expressing the opinion to assure themselves that they’re righteous. It’s a few words on social media and the instant gratification of “likes,” “shares,” and pats on the back for being so progressive and intelligent.
It’s the gratification of being a part of a group. Groups create purpose, and following that purpose becomes more important than questioning that purpose. We succumb to group-think and actions that follow justifying the means with the end.
We aren’t strong enough psychologically to drive ourselves. We can’t motivate ourselves. We’ve become dependent, and we’re being told that it’s all right. We’re filling the gap where we once allowed for God, and that gap breeds a stench of apathetic existentialism. When we smell it, we are sedated. When we ignore it, we are weighed down by the fear of obscurity, and that latent fear manifests itself as a wildly ravenous hunt for purpose. In our hunger we become reckless, and no matter how much we want that purpose, the apathy from subconscious bereavement strikes down our motivation. We become cognitively lazy and stupid, just piecing together whatever we can find so that vague patterns become feigned reason.
The reason we become dramatically upset when our political and social beliefs are questioned is the same reason we get upset when our faith in God is questioned.
Purpose is what keeps us sane.
The problem is that we become so fixated on what works that we stop searching for what’s right.