What determines our actions, our goals, our plans (and often their success or failure), is how we think. Each of us, without exception, has a philosophy, ideology and political line–ways of comprehending the world. They may not always be coherent or rational (or have anything to do with reality whatsoever) but we hold them whether we acknowledge that fact or not.
Foundational beliefs about how the world or society works.
“All life is interdependent.”
“The course of our lives is determined by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”
A set of convictions comprising a worldview.
“History advances through class struggle.”
“In a democracy, everyone is free. I just happen to want to go to work every morning.”
Positions on particular topics that determine an approach to action.
“To destroy capitalism, the proletariat must seize the means of production.”
“We can stop fracking by arranging our naked bodies to spell ‘Save the Earth.’”
We could leave our ideas and beliefs unexamined, unarticulated and incoherent, but this is not advised unless we enjoy being brainwashed lumps drooling on the couch. If instead we question and consider our thoughts and their patterns, then our reward is being capable of behavior that is conscious, deliberate, consistent, and most importantly, effective.
Our thoughts don’t originate inside ourselves, arising whole like shiny fish from the murky depths. They’re more like milkshakes, blended concoctions of everything we experience, perceive, read, and discuss. One conversation provides the strawberries; another encounter adds ice cream. Someone takes a sip and points out that it lacks a banana, so we throw one in. We try to avoid adding anything too poisonous. We affect and are affected by one another in a never-ending, back-and-forth process.