Psychology tells us that confirmation bias is real, and — not only that — but we tend to form a belief first and then seek facts to support it. This suggests that there’s a part of us that wants to maintain certain beliefs (and avoid cognitive dissonance) at all costs.
I’m not a smart enough person to explore this with the depth it deserves, but I’ve been thinking about this in regards to the issue of white privilege, police brutality and the NFL protests. All of these are extremely uncomfortable realities for many Americans to acknowledge, because they indicate that the way we’ve perceived the world (and our country, specifically) may not be accurate. These things disrupt us from our comfort zone and potentially place us in a state of cognitive dissonance.
It’s uncomfortable to acknowledge that the color of our skin affords some of us certain privileges, while resulting in the systemic oppression of others. It’s uncomfortable to acknowledge that police officers aren’t really serving and protecting everyone equally. And it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge that our country — as much as some of us may love it — still has a serious race problem.
I think when we’re confronted with something that makes us uncomfortable, it’s important to ask ourselves why. It’s important to sit with that discomfort rather than immediately seeking a way to diminish it. We must be willing to leave our comfort zones for the betterment of humanity.