From My Bookshelf – Day 16

People who claim to be absolutely convinced that their stand is the only right one are dangerous. Such conviction is the essence not only of dogmatism, but of its more destructive cousin, fanaticism. It blocks off the user from learning new truth, and it is a dead giveaway of unconscious doubt. The person then has to double his or her protests in order to quiet not only the opposition but his or her own unconscious doubts as well. 

It is infinitely safer to know that the man at the top has his doubts, as you and I have ours, yet has the courage to move ahead in spite of these doubts. In contrast to the fanatic who has stockaded himself against new truth, the person with the courage to believe and at the same time to admit his doubts is flexible and open to new learning. 

Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt. To believe fully and at the same moment to have doubts is not at all a contradiction: it presupposes a greater respect for truth, an awareness that truth always goes beyond anything that can be said or done at any given moment. To every thesis there is an antithesis, and to this there is a synthesis. Truth is thus a never-dying process. 

Rollo May — The Courage To Create (pp. 13-14)

We all have our fair share of people in our lives who are dogmatically and fanatically sure of their truths. These people are rigid, dogmatic, abrasive, and usually highly-opinionated. We learn to avoid certain topics with these people because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt it will turn into an hour long lecture on all the ways they are right. I appreciate Rollo May’s commentary above when he says fanatic behavior is a dead giveaway of unconscious doubt. That unconscious doubt rears its ugly head in many way (and usually at the family get-together).

Truth is a funny thing. We can assume we’re living according to a certain truth for the majority of our lives and then one day wake up to a shifting perspective. If we’re lucky, throughout our lives we continue to gather new data, have new experiences, meet new cultures, and learn many new truths. As we mature and are presented with new truths, the doubts about old truths begin to creep in. That is completely alright and absolutely normal. Doubt is actually a good sign of a healthy person. I heard it said once that the opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty. I believe that to be true.

If you’re dealing with someone who is fanatically convinced of their truth, try to find the silver lining and understand their strong stance is really a cover-up for their unconscious doubt.

Have a blessed day.

Peace and Love,


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