Are you willing to admit that your ideology influences you too much?

I was just watching Sunday Morning Live on the BBC, and the subject under discussion was the famous case of the monkey selfie, where PETA (the animal rights charity that does otherwise valuable work) was wasting money suing a photographer over the rights to a photograph that a monkey accidentally took of itself, using the gentleman’s camera. As is often the case the conversation widened, but at the end the four panellists were asked a simple question.

In a situation where an animal and a human were in danger, which would you save first?

This is where ideo-stupidity stepped in. it’s a simple question. Two alternatives. Which one?

The first two panellists avoided the question. Don’t get me wrong – even though I think there is only one sensible answer, I am not saying they gave a ‘wrong’ one. My point is that they avoided giving one at all.

The first (PETA) said they need more information (bolleaux) and the second went into whether we should treat animals with the same respect as we (should) treat each other, which wasn’t what he was asked.

That meant that PETA woman would not say she would put a person first because it might undermine their otherwise unquestioned love for animals, while not choosing the animal first because that might upset humans. And the second panellist avoided committing to a human life – which seemed odd for an equality rights campaigner for ‘people’, who wouldn’t put a ‘people’ before an animal in that simple dichotomy – possibly because he may upset animal lovers.

Here’s the thing – both were unwilling to stand by any personal values at all, either way. They flapped, they flummoxed, they prevaricated and, in the end they lied, either directly or by omission. There was an answer to give, whatever it was – but they wouldn’t give it because it would commit them to something that others might challenge. Which means they were gutless about their beliefs – which in one case was odd because the panellist is usually quite vociferous about what he believes in.

Which brings us to the point of my opening question – do you realise that your chosen ideology influences you so much that you can’t even stand by it when challenged? Does it influence you to the point that you KNOW or suspect that standing by it – isn’t absolutely right?

Question your values and beliefs until you get to the point where you wholly understand and are willing to stand by them, whatever the cost. Otherwise you will never be truly happy or congruent. When questioned, you will squirm. You will then be challenged, and you will squirm even more before getting all defensive and angry. Ultimately you will find yourself unable to put together the cogent argument that you did have about your values-derived choice – and all because your beliefs weren’t as sound and principled as you thought they were.

Do the values exercise, question your own beliefs, get absolutely clear and then stand by your values.

Or look a fool.