Fromm Me To You – Part 02

One of the main sources of strife between us humans comes from holding too tightly to our opinions; not being willing to hold them loosely when confronted with alternative perspectives.

This is understandably hard, because we barely realize how deeply ingrained our frame of reference is. Erich Fromm writes that people “simply take their own philosophy for granted because to them it is only common sense, and they are unaware that all their concepts rest upon a commonly accepted frame of reference. When such persons are confronted with a fundamentally different total view of life, they judge it as ‘crazy’ or ‘irrational’ or ‘childish,’ while they consider themselves as being only ‘logical.’” (138)

This explains the fear we feel when confronted with an alternative worldview. It feels threatening. We have a deep need for human connection, and our opinions and worldview connect us to others. The alternative worldview threatens the solidarity of our group, or community.

Part of what makes it difficult to entertain alternative perspectives is that we tend to view our opinions as possessions. As things that make us who we are. Fromm writes, “Each is afraid of changing his own opinion, precisely because it is one of his possessions, and hence its loss would mean an impoverishment.” (33)

“Indeed, to one for whom having is the main form of relatedness to the world, ideas that cannot easily be pinned down (or penned down) are frightening–like everything else that grows and changes, and thus is not controllable.” (29)