Friday, March 04, 2011

On Ideological Freedom

Like most people I suppose, I have been exposed to a mixed bag of political influences over the years. I have no recollection of political conversations at home as a child, but I do recall an emphasis on education (that I promptly ignored) and Catholicism that all of my siblings and I ignored. I went to high school at Prairie here in town and again have little recollection of political influences as little if any instruction pertained to politics. It was only in college that I began to concern myself a bit with politics and the political view was decidedly liberal. I was mentored by Catholic priest and former member of the US House of representatives, one Father Cornell, a Democrat. After college I got a master degree in school social work. I was a lefty but not particularly hard core. I was in my 30's before I before I began a gradual rethinking of my world view that accelerated when I happened upon a book by one Dr. Thomas Sowell who articulated clearly, methodically and logically many of the thoughts that were germinating in my head at the time.

I share this biographical information as it pertains to a conversation I had yesterday with a highly educated customer of mine. Her view, if I can summarize it accurately, is that I have returned philosophically to the "indoctrination" of my formative years. She had to be going on her way and our conversation ended amicably as always, but it did get me thinking.

Are we all just prisoners of a world view imposed on us during our formative years? I hardly think so. If I had been successfully indoctrinated, I would be a practicing Catholic professor somewhere. I have four siblings. Most of us have rejected Catholicism to one degree or another. We have absorbed I think the value of education. And most of us are left of center with one notable exception. Sounds like a thoroughly botched indoctrination job by my parents!

My own view is that I am an adult who has carefully considered the many influences that I have been exposed to over the years, rejecting some, keeping others and discovering entirely new ones on my own. What a sad existence to believe that you have no free will and that you are merely a slave of your upbringing.


Preachrboy said...

I do notice that on the occasions when the tilt of someone's worldview shifts, it is much more often from liberal to conservative than the other way around. Anecdotal evidence, of course... just my observation.

Anonymous said...

Denis, well thought out post. I don't think we are pre-ordained to think a certain way (from our upbringing) so much as some of us are just intellectually lazy. We comfortably believe certain things but never consider that our beliefs may be wrong - based on faulty facts and assumptions.

My best path to the truth is to challenge beliefs daily. Not so much my religious beliefs, but everything else is fair game. The truth is a pesky thing, and most folks "can't handle the truth". (One of the better movie lines ever, IMHO.) Those who can't handle the truth tend to be the loudest screamers, because challenging your own belief is messy work. Screaming is easier. We've seen a bunch of them desecrating the Capitol lately, eh?

BradK said...

No one's a slave to their upbringing unless they choose to be.

Influenced... yes, absolutely. But as anonymous said, intellectual laziness is the only thing that would prevent someone from formulating their own opinion. Having said that, their own opinion could be - or appear to be - substantially similar to their upbringing, but only that person knows if it's because of laziness, or honest personal acceptance through challenge and validation.