Which came first – the belief or the community?

We form our beliefs on the basis of our community, and we also form our community on the basis of our beliefs. Shouldland is such a community.

The internet has become a great way for like minded people to come together, especially with the amount of blogging communities now, but it’s been happening forever. People form communities based on religion, political leanings or even music preferences (think of all of the music based sub-cultures).

Kathryn Shulz says that sociologists call this ‘homophily’ – the tendency to like people similar to ourselves. Do we spend so much time with people like us because we agree with them, or do we agree with them because we spend so much time with them?

In Shouldland, we don’t just hold a belief, we hold a membership in a community of believers. This membership can give those in the community significant advantages. Social and financial opportunities are awarded to those who share its beliefs, and withheld from those who don’t. I have a friend who left her country farm to go to university and pursue a career in the city. Her four siblings who chose to stay in the small town and maintain their rural lifestyle have been rewarded by the parents, with huge financial incentives for not turning into a ‘city-slicker’.

People on their real life’s journey can be punished for their escaping Shouldland. This we need to change. We can try to get our tribe to do things out of their comfort zone, for example travelling alone overseas. Yes, it is a little more risky, it will be scary, but that’s the point. That is when you get the greatest personal growth.

Playing safe in life is why people live in Shouldland. They are too scared to live a life outside of the one that they know. They feel comfort in what they know, and thus never have the chance to grow, to experience other things.

I think we need to model a Shouldland-free life that others may follow. Keep an open mind about absolutely everything. Constantly self-reflect: always searching for the sources of your beliefs. Always actively looking for evidence to contradict your beliefs.

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