I don’t know about you, but when I become involved in an argument I can sometimes exaggerate the defence of my beliefs to the point of looking foolish. I was watching a documentary on what motivates some women to continue to support Donald Trump when, in all other circumstances, had the same sexual harassment allegations been made about almost anyone else, they would be surely have not dismissed them as ‘locker room banter’, in the way they do for him.
Don’t get me wrong, this article is not about the current president of the USA but about why we are susceptible to hanging onto some of our belief’s. At the end of the documentary the presenter concluded that fear was, most likely, the basis of the cause. Fear of change, fear of losing what they have, even if they have very little.
In my change management workshops, I talk about fear for change but perhaps I need to focus on it a bit more? Fear can be a powerful ally of a leader who wants to bring about change, creating fear where it is not present or by exaggerating its causes, where it is.
In trying to think of a situation where I have radically changed my beliefs, I was reminded that the beliefs we inherit cling to us far tighter than we might sometimes imagine. For example, in 1950, wanting to put an end to all debate on the topic, Pope Pius Xll, used his power of papal infallibility (a belief of the Catholic church that the Pope can never be wrong), by decreeing that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was assumed into heaven. As I was educated by Catholic monks, this belief was drilled into me as ‘fact’.
Today, I no longer believe in the assumption of Mary and thus the Belgian August 15 holiday has no religious significance for me at all. But when I think of the amount of time I spent, reading, thinking and debating on this and other theological issues, it amazes me now, just how slow I was to change my mind, even when confronted with very powerful rational arguments to do so. And what was the basis of my reluctance? I guess it was fear – fear of eternal hell fire, fear of upsetting my parents, fear of what might replace it, fear of the unknown.
I think fear plays a much bigger part of our hanging onto dogma than I sometimes give credit for. Understanding people’s fear is surely the key to unlocking the pathway to change. Whether it is in a morally acceptable direction or not, is another topic.
Have a good week