Just as bigotry can blind emotionally, ideology can blind intellectually

In today’s social justice ethos, if someone makes a racist or sexist statement, they are called out immediately. Prejudices of any kind are frowned upon. Usually, bigoted people are seen to be blinded by their emotions.

However, emotions aren’t the sole cause of prejudices. Even the intellect, which is normally meant to regulate our emotions and balance our perceptions, can blind. Such intellectual blinding happens through ideology, specifically, through ideological obsessions. 

When we buy into an ideology, we see the whole world through the filter of that ideology. Rather than using the ideology as a tool to make better sense of the world, they reduce the world to that ideology — whatever doesn’t make sense within that ideology’s framework is neglected or rejected. Or it is explained away through various rationalizations — arguments that seem rational but are used to arrive at self-serving conclusions that may well be irrational. The Bhagavad-gita (18.22) deems such ideological obsession as knowledge in the mode of ignorance, wherein all of reality is reduced to a fragment 

Thus, for example, people driven by leftist ideologies presume that anyone wealthy or powerful has become so by exploiting others. They don’t give consider the role of talent and commitment in fostering success. When they reduce the world to a struggle between exploiters and exploited, they become blinded to the many common causes for which the poor and wealthy can work synergistically. Just as leftist ideologies can blind, so can rightist ideologies. 

Doesn’t the Gita also offer an ideology? Not exactly. The Gita offers spirituality and a philosophy that delineates the pathway for spiritualizing our consciousness. When our consciousness is thus raised above both emotional and intellectual blinders, we can then see things as they are. Seeing everyone as essentially spiritual beings is the best way to overcome bigotry. 

 

Think it over:

  • How does ideology blind intellectually?
  • Do you know anyone who is ideologically blinded?
  • How is Gita wisdom different from an ideology?

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