7.2. There Are No “Irreconcilable Differences”

Reconciling these supposedly “irreconcilable differences” is the easiest thing in the world.

“Irreconcilable differences.”

We hear about them all the time.

They’re why science and religion, and liberals and conservatives, can’t work together, can’t find common ground, can’t do anything but fight to the death.

There’s just one problem: there’s no such thing as irreconcilable differences. And I can prove it.

Belief systems just aren’t the perfectly comprehensive, coherent systems we make them out to be.

They’re limited. They’re riddled with omissions, oversimplifications, and distortions.

You aren’t required to believe in every single individual belief within a belief system. You can believe in some parts of it, and not others. In fact, that’s pretty much what you have to do—since belief systems are so full of ambiguities, conflicts, and flat-out contradictions.

You may say you’re a liberal, or a Christian, or an adherent of this or that belief system. But what you really mean, when you say that?

In practice, do you really believe everything within that belief system?

In practice, don’t you tend to trust scientific experts about science, political experts about politics, religious experts about religion, and so on?

In practice, don’t you take all the beliefs and claims you’re exposed to, sort out which ones you believe and which ones you don’t, and cobble them together into your own personal belief system?

Ideologues and diehard believers will try to shame you, if you don’t believe everything they say. They’ll say you’re being inconsistent. You’re engaging in cognitive dissonance. You’re being too prideful and arrogant.

But the inconsistency isn’t with you. It’s in these limited, imperfect belief systems.

We cobble together our own personal belief systems because it flat-out works better.

We know there are things our sciences, philosophies, political ideologies, and religions can’t explain.

We see how they’re riddled with inconsistencies, biases, contradictions, and inaccuracies.

We see what happens to people who totally buy into those flawed systems—how stubborn and closed-minded they become, how they can’t think outside the box.

The truth is, it’s the easiest thing in the world to reconcile these supposedly “irreconcilable differences.”

Billions—not millions, billions—of people have reconciled science and religion in their own personal beliefs.

They believe in the vast majority of what science has uncovered, and they believe in the vast majority of what a religion preaches—without contradiction.

How can anyone say with a straight face that these differences are irreconcilable, when billions of people have done it?

The same thing happens with politics. So many people cobble together liberal and conservative positions to form their own personal beliefs, instead of just believing everything on one side.

The truth is, what’s irreconcilable isn’t the beliefs themselves. It’s the people and the institutions, clamoring for power, money, and authority.

They use their ideas to fight over those scarce resources, and they project that zero-sum mentality onto our belief systems.

So don’t let anybody shame you, for refusing to stick completely to the party line.

Just because our belief systems aren’t totally comprehensive and perfect doesn’t mean they can’t be good, useful, and valuable. But it’s these imperfections that create the illusion of irreconcilable differences—when, in fact, there aren’t any.

 

This is the 110th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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