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Forcing to accept?


DP Veteran
Jun 11, 2009
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Political Leaning
Something I often hear from people in contentious debates are comments like...

"I won't be forced to accept [blank]"
"Why do [blanks] always try to shove their agenda down my throat."
"I feel [blank] is wrong so neither I nor my children should have to hear about it."

I thought about this for a long while and it seems like quite a ridiculous sentiment no matter what you put in the blank. The fact is that you can't force anyone to accept anything without using some form of coercion or authority. What people are usually arguing when they make statements along these lines are fear of the state forcing them to change some view or attitude they hold.

Where this appears to hold the greatest sway is in public education. Education is about imparting knowledge and skill, and it has an ethical responsibility to do so through an evidence based approach. So what then when the evidence is in disagreement with long held and cherished beliefs? Should the state bow to the sensibilities of the people who disagree with the evidence and teach ignorance to students as opposed to knowledge? Or should the state confront these beliefs head on and make it mandatory for students to know what the evidence says? Perhaps this is where the value of charter schools and private schools lies in that people can pay to be taught what they want to hear instead of the facts.

These views of forced acceptance also extend into laws which are perceived to influence what is accepted as normal and how we should treat one another. If a behavior or idea that we feel is abnormal or wrong is given the same status or recognition as our own behavior or ideas, then we lose the ability to publicly criticize it without appearing intolerant or prejudiced. In order to avoid this possibility, many people will seek to use the state to preserve the status and recognition of their behavior or ideas over the behavior and ideas of others.

Of course, by doing so the people who fear being subjugated become the subjugators.

And that is ultimately the point of this thread. This is all ultimately a game of power and control. People are out to either increase the status of their own ideas or behaviors or to diminish the ideas or behaviors of others. How people justify this way of living varies from person to person, as some seem to use a religious doctrine, and others use political or economic ideologies, but it seems to be an innate aspect of the human social condition.

However, one thing does change. The acquisition of knowledge. As we learn as a species, the ability of one group to subjugate another is diminished. All religious, political, and economic ideologies are constantly under threat from the acquisition of knowledge. Hence why some people choose to self subjugate, and will seek to destroy or ban any knowledge which threatens their ideas and behavior. Others choose to slightly alter their religious, political, or economic ideologies to account for new knowledge and claim, often quite dishonestly, that their respective ideology always accounted for it.

It's interesting that such simple statements can tell us so much about human social psychology. The absurdity is in the futility in which we try to preserve or enhance our social status. Future generations will likely see all our present behaviors and ideas as primitive. Nonetheless, this can be a game of life or death depending upon where you live in the world. The only hope is often in the development and spread of knowledge and constant efforts to derail self subjugation.
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