“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.” – Simone Weil
Simone Weil was a Jewish philosopher who fled France and the Nazis in 1942. Raised as an agnostic Jew, Weil embraced Christianity later in life. She recognized the pervasive effects of culture and relationships on beliefs and was able to step away from her personal attachments in order to think clearly.
Attachment theory delves into the biological and neurological need to form bonds with others. How we bond (or fail to bond) with other people is both biological and social. A positive or negative view of oneself and a positive or negative view of others is largely shaped by our experiences. These factors determine who we befriend and who we distrust.
Attachment theory also helps us to understand core beliefs. People extract their core beliefs from those with whom they are most closely attached. The bond that is established between individuals is prioritized on a gradient from casual to strong and strongest. Core beliefs emerge from our strongest relationships and our most respected written sources. Sources such as the Bible, Quran, Talmud, or a book that one has read, may profoundly forge our thoughts and beliefs.
Unlike Simone Weil, some people are not able to disengage themselves from their attachments in order to see the truth. They are trapped in a psychological state where they are not able or willing to dialogue. For some, there is no objective universal truth. They live in a world where reality is limited to their own personal experiences. For them, dialogue can only take place when you see reality through their eyes. But whose personal experience really matters? Whose reality takes priority? Much of the public rhetoric today is laced with visceral emotions where facts and logic make no headway.
After I graduated from college, I took a job at a police station in my hometown. At times, we called parents to come to the station to pick up children who had been arrested for various crimes. A few of these parents refused to believe their children had broken the law. The evidence did not matter to them. I thought ‘What is wrong with these people? How can they be so stupid?’ The answer: blind attachment. One of my favorite quotes comes from Mark Twain: “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”