Yes, even “noble” ideas can become dangerous as I have often noted. Even “Jesus is the Light of the World” can become ignoble if one becomes so intoxicated with himself that he feels he has to hammer others with a message that, if offered with a degree of humility, could be valuable. James T. Hodgkinson had ideas I certainly agree with about Donald Trump and the Republicans having nothing in mind but their own self interest but he then allowed emotion to overwhelm him, threw out all discretion that “the pauser reason” offers us, and now he is dead and several others are seriously wounded. I’m sure that Isis started out with some ideas that were more or less benign, relatively speaking, but they became intoxicated with the ideas of their belief system and anytime this intoxication reaches a certain fevered intensity, violence will ensue. Ideas are only ideas. Yes, even these that I’m sharing here at this present moment. Now if you wake up some morning and find a printed copy of this blog tacked to your door, probably with an impassioned demand for money, you can be alarmed that I take them too seriously to the point that I have tracked down your street address! Yes, that would be time to call the police.
Again I say, “Ideas are just ideas.” But when our identity is impoverished, we take the ideas that form our belief system too seriously and always miss the point of the one who initiated the belief system. This what the ego does. And, in the Christian tradition that I was born into, there was no acknowledgement of the ego’s influence in our faith even though the Apostle Paul had warned us about “the flesh” which was his culture’s term for the ego. Ego-dominated faith will always take itself too seriously and will be subject to easy manipulation of any demagogue and spiritual shyster than happens by.
But the notion that “ideas are only ideas” will fall only on deaf ears of those who are steeped in the ideology of Western thought who teach us that ideas are to be taken literally, that “the word is the thing,” that the maxim of Descartes, “I think. Therefore I am,” is valid. And most people in my country who think this way are intelligent, but will totally miss the point I am making, and that is fine. I will not be trying to argue with them or imply that “they are wrong.” This world is made up of people who think differently, who believe differently, whose perspective of the world is different, and my task is to make room for them when I can. And when I can’t, I always have the privilege of politely excusing myself or “unfriending” them!