Our Set Ways

People, by nature, fear chaos. We basically live our lives in attempt to bring order to the chaos that defines human experience on earth. This is basically why religion or economic ideologies (like capitalism) exist: because they provide a set of objective truths and absolute laws that basically TELL us how to live our live. Goodbye confusion. Hello certainty.


I don't know if you're familiar with William James and pragmatism at all, but the basic idea underlying the philosophy is that the human spirit is in a constant state of change and as soon as we lock ourselves into a certain "set way," our spirits die. Something like religion, with all its absolute laws, truths and Biblical interpretations, locks people into a certain "set way." It precludes our ability to change if something happens along the so-called "river of experience" that makes us want to change.


"Set ways," in other words, kill us. And when somebody comes along and CHALLENGES these ways, we get stubborn and outright antogonistic. We don't want to deal with the possibility that everything we thought was true and right was actually false and wrong. It would throw us back into chaos, that frightening place we were trying to initially escape from.


Besides, nobody wants to know that they lived a good chunk of their life in total illusion. The antagonism we display towards people with different beliefs and ways is really our subconscious saying, "Wait! I could be all wrong!" And people don't like to discover when they're wrong. It makes them angry at themselves, which turns into stubborness and stubborness leads to both destruction of others (take a holy war for example) and also destruction of ourselves.


Unfortunately, the older we get, the more prone we are to becoming stubborn like this, because old age means we've invested more of our time in a certain "set way." If we realize at a young age that the right thing to do is respect chaos and refrain from locking ourselves into a certain set way, then we will never die and (more importantly) never turn into a stubborn, destructive beast.


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