One of the hardest things to do in today’s world is to get people to change their minds about almost anything. Of course I am a contrarian when it come to this topic. I have changed my mind about a lot of things in my life. Maybe the most significant has to do with my spiritual life. But that is a story for another post.
Changing people’s minds just can’t be done in any superficial way. Sadly, you can’t give them a convincing argument that will change their world view. Let’s face it, too many of us still cling to the worldview we were given as a youngster. I was a youngster in the 1950s and a LOT has changed since then. My present worldview is literally nothing like it was in those days. For one thing, I have become a wiser person. For another, the world is infinitely different than it was.
The superficial way to change minds simply doesn’t work now if it ever did. You simply can’t churn out that catchy phrase that will bridge racial, partisan, or class differences. Real change has to involve putting people from different worldview in the same room, on the same team, and in the same neighborhood. People change when they are daily exposed to new environments. When employers create workplace diversity, and equity and inclusion instead of depending on workshops or diversity training sessions.
Just look at what the world looked like fifty years ago. Interracial marriages were strictly prohibited. There was no possibility that a white woman could ever marry a black man. Back then “gay” meant something entirely different. It would have been unimaginable for a gay man to openly be running for president.
Here is a quote from a recent New York Times article that sums all this up:
People change when they are put in new environments, in permanent relationship with diverse groups of people. Their embodied minds adapt to the environments in a million different ways we will never understand or be able to plan. Decades ago, the social psychologist Gordon Allport wrote about the contact hypothesis, that doing life together with people of other groups can reduce prejudice and change minds. It’s how new emotional bonds are formed, how new conceptions of who is “us” and who is “them” come into being.
You can’t change people’s minds by giving them new information or new thoughts.