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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mind Meld

I'm thinking more about the constructivist and realist minds and why the former belongs to the true revolutionary.  ("True" as defined by a constructivist, of course, i.e. authentic, integral, in accords with human existence or nature, not with the "real-outside-there-now" as Bernard Lonergan calls it.)

I have a common sense, likable cousin who calls himself a tea-party conservative.

I have an intelligent, likable colleague, a Democratic liberal, who writes on religious matters.

I find that both have "realist" minds. There is no arguing with their opinions because they are built into their intractable belief systems. Reality or truth for them is how it appears, how it conforms with the "reality as it really is," with "things and events as they really are," that is, apart from bias or prejudice or perspective or human intervention. When I do try to "reason" with them, I don't get arguments, I get names. They know the truth. I don't.

With my cousin, I have finally after many years come to the conclusion that it is not worth discussing matters of importance with him and especially not public policy. I am grateful to have learned more about the realist mind by interacting with him. But I don't believe I can learn much more from him.  I know he will not learn anything from me. The same became true when discussing religion and ethics with my colleague.

I will be pleasant with my cousin and talk about sports and vacation experiences and of course family. I will simply delete his diatribes and name-calling from FOX News, Limbaugh, Savage, and tea party sources) that he passes on through emails--just as I do with many of the base-rallying, money-making attacks from so-called progressives. His mind is made up. He knows the truth and nothing I say will have him question it.

I have told him often that the reason we see things so differently is that we have different values which gives us different perspectives and interests. I don't think he understands what I am talking about. It's either true or it isn't. This is so with my colleague who writes on religious matters. That's the realist mind.

So I simply won't talk politics or religion with them any more. Civility is more important to me than righteousness.

The realist mind can be very dangerous in persons with power. True belief is associated with mass movements that encourage fear of the "other," practice genocide, wage religious wars, purge unbelievers, export ideology, use violence, control markets, and build empires. "Realpolitik," as practiced by those who are called "neo-cons" or sometimes "neo-liberals," is often a product of the realist mind. Making the world safe for democracy, winning the cold war against communism, manifest destiny, America for Americans, are often slogans of this realpolitik.

But usually persons with a realist mind, like my cousin and colleague, are harmless--though often fearful of newcomers, focused on deficiency over abundance, very wary of new science, and wanting back that "old time religion" and things the way they were. I understand where they are coming from and why they see me as "unrealistic" and even "kooky." They are so focused on the objective that they neglect how the subjective influences it. They believe there is an absolute real to which our minds should conform. Ideas are true if they conform to an outside the mind reality. False if they do not.

My "constructivist" mind is never settled. No belief is unquestionable to me. Truth, like freedom, is a process of engagement. Engagement with the constantly changing environment and with each other through words, images, and other symbols. We are always in process of acquiring truth, freedom, justice. 

And that I think is the way of the true revolutionary. 

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