Most people that I’ve met hold at least two kinds of commitments:
- commitments to people
- commitments to propositions
The first kind is almost universally taken for granted. Human neurology prevents our complete transcendence of tribalism, and nobody faults Gandhi for defining his service to the human family primarily at the limited level of his fellow Indian. There’s a rather arbitrary collection of people in each of our lives with whom we relate on a more-than-mere-contract level, and whose interests we serve out of human love. We want what’s best for them, to validate their reality, and to vindicate their failures, as rapper Nas does in Life’s a Bitch: “I’m destined to live the dream for all my peeps who never made it”.
In the realm of propositions, though, we try to justify our stance: because we feel the need to, or because we are asked to, or both. Sometimes in that process of justification, we can be rather harsh. “Give me the cold evidence, and that will be enough.”, or “we can’t both be right”, or “give me your oil or I’ll give you this missile”.
I want to posit, however, that if your belief system, like mine, is couched in a complex network of human relationships and commitments, then I cannot simply accept or reject your propositions at face value, but must take the time to understand the local implications of your ideological expression.
I love and believe the idea that our beliefs and loves are a woven fabric of dancing threads. I desire (with both gravity and whimsy) to participate in that interplay. Are you with me?