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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blind Faith : Irrationality

Irrational behaviour happens due to social and emotional biases. People are very much less rational than is commonly thought and it may be attributed to obedience, conformity and peer pressure.

Its often that North Indian come to Chennai and criticize every cultural and social norm. West European or American traveling to India and disdaining from poverty, chaos and dust. A religious and deeply conservative person being shocked by the open culture of Las Vegas.

Why does all these three events happen?

This happen because all want the whole world in their own image – this is their identity, to which all alterities must – they so wish – yield. Even they migrate to different culture, the idealism and self glorification of their ancestors comes with the baggage. These culturally uprooted persons in a economic stable society can afford to and became source of more intolerant ideologies. They supports back to the roots with a very closed realm of their identity and remain unaware of the dynamic changes back home.

Let us take example of Pakistan. Proliferation of extremist thought and jihadi groups started in 80's Pakistan and there was emergence of the middle class supporting military rule in the favour of economic stability. Zia was celebrated as one of their own in 80's by similar Pakistani group that today blames him for all wrong deeds. These are prime example of irrational behaviour where initial conditioning has retarded the curiosity and questioning nature of the human being. Hence, irrationality appears when a person refuses to move to another set of beliefs even the proper reason is given in the first place. Static system of beliefs lead us to the path of irrational behaviour.

People behave ethically all the time without relying on myths and religion. The comfort that religion brings to an individual comes at a terrible price. Probably the majority of wars in our history have been fought over religion. Ahmediya sect killings is clear example of ethnic cleaning in the name of religious (Islamic) purity. Human life sanity is clearly violated for an old school of thought.

Let us take example of U.S.A. Tea Party baggers genuinely don’t see the contradiction in their opposition to welfare state with taking state aid with one hand and jacking off angry pseudo-libertarian mobs with the other, much in the same way that some Wall Street people genuinely can’t see the problem with their company, say, taking $13 billion in bonuses in the same year that they accepted $13 billion in state bailouts. You wave a pitchfork at them with little post-its of the relevant figures taped to the ends, and ask them to confess – and they can’t, because they literally don’t see your point.

Patriotism is also such a irrational belief system. In words of Emma Goldman: We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens. We are ready to hang, electrocute, or lynch anyone, who, from economic necessity, will risk his own life in the attempt upon that of some industrial magnate. Yet our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America is becoming the most powerful nation on earth, and that she will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other nations. Such is the logic of patriotism.

Hubris, ignorance and apathy among the privileged are a potently destructive mix and a sure recipe for disaster. A society or nation degrades in civility once a set of beliefs are not evolved with the time. Even people have developed an acute consciousness of their own pain but their senses have become dulled to the suffering of those others who does not share their belief system. Irrationality is born out of such static system of beliefs where no reasoning has been applied to challenge ongoing traditions.

I am ending my search on the blind faith here only. When people are free to choose what type of discussions they want to have, they often gravitate toward an equilibrium that is easy to maintain but one that no one really enjoys or benefits from. Hence, it is hard to argue in the case of blind faith . While breaking the taboo has two effects. First, there is the domino effect, which applies to other taboos. Then – and even more importantly – a complete way of thinking has finally been pushed aside. And we evolve as more humane and rational.


  1. I am only reminded of Kabiguru's immortal words:

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
    Where knowledge is free
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
    By narrow domestic walls
    Where words come out from the depth of truth
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
    Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
    Where the mind is led forward by thee
    Into ever-widening thought and action
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

    The Bengali version is even more intense... and is titled "Chitto Jetha Bhayshunyo"

    This is Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore's dream of a free and glorious India. He dreamt of a free-thinking, united and dynamic India. And we can most definitely extend it to the world at large...

    P.S. This poem (no. 35, from Tagore's Noble prize winning literary work, "Gitanjali") is very inspiring and timeless.

  2. @Roshmi, yes that is a very inspiring poem. it can only written by a person truly loving freedom.

    Thanks for coming here after long time. You have a pretty baby to take care now so my blog is immensly lucky to be read by such a busy person. Cheers to new life and freedom.



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