Declan Molony is a business administration senior and Mustang News opinion columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
There’s a lot about the world that we don’t know, and our beliefs can help us fill in the gaps. However, our own worldview can potentially be a source of internal anguish.
Last week I was speaking with a friend — we’ll call him Henry — about the upcoming presidential election. Upon discussing which candidate might win, Henry said no matter the outcome, he believes people will be killed as a result of political turmoil.
I asked him, “Does the thought of this happening stress you out?”
He responded, “People dying? Yes!”
“But surely there’s a chance that people won’t be killed. So this uncertain event, months in the future, is causing you stress. What should you do to feel less stressed about it? Do you know anybody that might instigate violence over the election outcome?” I asked.
“I don’t think so,” Henry responded.
“Essentially, there may or may not be violence in the future. Regardless of whether or not it happens, just the idea of this is stressing you out. And if it does occur, you don’t have any control over the situation,” I said.
I told my friend he has every right to be concerned about political unrest, but given that he has no control over other people’s reactions to the election, he shouldn’t be losing sleep over it.
A year ago, I was speaking with a different friend — we’ll call her Samantha — on the subject of politics. She told me she hates Republicans because, “they’re all a bunch of racists and our country would be better off without them.”
Harboring such hatred towards a political group aggravated her.
I brought up this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Fear always springs from ignorance,” and then I asked her, “Do you agree that some racism can be explained by not knowing another group of people? If only two groups could get together and find commonalities, then there would be less of a divide between them?”
“Let me ask you something related, would you ever date a Republican?” I asked.
“Are you kidding me? Hell no!” she responded.
“How come?” I asked.
“I don’t think we’d have anything in common,” she said.
“OK. Do you have any friends or family who are Republicans?” I asked.
“Just this one uncle, but my family doesn’t talk to him anymore. Other than that, no,” she said.
“There are millions of people in this country that identify as Republican, and you do not personally know a single one. Is it possible that if you were to allow yourself to get to know some Republicans, that you could better understand them and possibly befriend one?” I asked.
“Why would I want to do that? All Republicans are stupid,” she said.
I checked back in with Henry, and he still believes people will be killed as a result of this November’s election. Now, he’s a bit less worried, because he believes it’s out of his control if that happens.
As for Samantha, to this day, she’s still disdainful of Republicans and becomes outraged over what Republican senators are trying to pass on any given day in Congress.
This topic doesn’t pertain to just politics. Some vegetarians hold contempt for “flesh-eaters.” There are people who believe in astrology who avoid Scorpios like the plague, and I have friends who are constantly stressed out about how immigrants are treated.
What they all have in common is that their beliefs are causing them to suffer. Now, I’m not saying they should not continue to believe in their ideologies (a vegetarian diet, reading horoscopes and compassion for immigrants), but I am suggesting that the way in which we practice our beliefs can produce stress in our lives. Suffering is created in the mind, and it’s possible to reduce your stress depending on how you hold your beliefs in your head.