This is seen in the Middle East between the Sunnis and Shiites. This is seen in Myanmar between the Muslims and the Buddhists. In reference to the persecution of minority Rohingya Muslims by the dominant Buddhists in newly democratic Myanmar, South African’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity of all its people, is not a free country.” There are people who are not free, making the country not free.
Tutu’s quotation can be analogous to the human condition. Thinking of a human being as a country populated by many facets of desires and personality and drives, there are costs when the multiple facets aren’t reconciled. One is not free.
Cognitive dissonance refers to when a belief and a behavior are out of alignment or there are two conflicting beliefs. To resolve this dissonance, to reconcile the facets, a belief or a behavior has to be changed. Qualifications or exceptions might be made to explain the behavior or the behavior might become secretive. People might compartmentalize particular thoughts or drives, tucking them away to pretend they don’t exist. This can eventually wear down, causing distraction and preoccupation and even guilt.
For the human condition to be free, a value system, uniquely derived or based on a religion, can help reconcile the facets and forge a life of meaning. In contrast, compartmentalization can cause confusion as to what really forms one’s identity. Similarly, persecution of unwanted thoughts: stuffing them, pushing them away, allows those very thoughts to gather more weight.
Instead, to set an intention for each day, incorporating all one’s facets and aligned with one’s defined value set, allows for freedom. For the country, this setting of intention make look like allowing integration and religious practice, such as wearing head scarves in France. This intention may be requisite for peace and, ultimately, freedom.