In English
Cartoon boy
Thought bubble: Good to know by heart
The classical virtues:
 Faith, hope, love.
Wisdom, justice,
moderation, courage.
Read the 8-step guide!
How to Reduce Polarisation Through Faith and Reason
8-step guide
Erik Pleijel

Are you tired of the polarisation in society? Have you had enough of insults, personal attacks, stereotypes and meanness? If so, you are not alone.

This is a serious problem and it is only getting worse. The unwillingness to listen to other points of view makes it difficult to find solutions to the urgent problems plaguing our world.

A common source of division is closed-minded religion and narrow-minded secularisation. Which side should you choose? 

  • Should faith destroy reason?
  • Should reason destroy faith?
Two road signs. One points to "Polarisation", the other to "Opposite Way".

There is an old and proven way that is almost forgotten today. In the following 8-step guide I will try to describe what it is about.

Faith and reason do not have to destroy each other. Instead, they can work together. This is like discovering a whole new world!

It takes 3 minutes to read this – if you read fast. But don't rush! Sometimes it's good to take time to think and reflect.

Even slowness
is a virtue!

1. Beware of Controlling Religion

One cause of polarisation is bad religion. It brings out the worst in people: fear, narrow-mindedness, selfishness, hatred, prejudice, etc. The paradox is that people claim to believe in a loving God! How does this make sense? 

One possible answer is that it is a belief in conditional love.
This is something that stifles human development and maturity.


Man training a dog.

Reward and punishment can be used to train animals. Humans should develop in a different way.


Conditional love is about controlling people by setting conditions. "If you behave, you will be accepted and loved!".

There are things that cannot be produced by the "training method": compassion, judgement, truthfulness, honesty, integrity, etc.

The most valuable human qualities cannot be bought. Even less can they be forced. They can only be cultivated in a free relationship.

2. Take the Leap of Faith

Many people find the Christian message strange and incomprehensible. A good starting point is to think like this: Christianity is the opposite of the "animal training method". It is about learning to be human.

Many churches speak of unconditional love. Such a faith is about trust. It is not based on reward and punishment, but on freedom and responsibility.

This opens up a better way.

Cartoon priest looking at a road sign: Human development, "animal training" forbidden.

A path to personal development. No controlling religion! It's about learning the art of being human. 

Controlling religion is based on fear. This blocks the capacity for self-awareness and stunts human growth.

A trusting faith gives the courage for self-examination and self-knowledge. It opens the way to growth and development.

Points 3 and 4 give examples.

3. Manage pleasant but toxic emotions

Why is social media so antisocial? Why are the posts so full of mockery, abuse and petty nastiness? The answer is really quite simple: being mean can be a pleasure.

You laugh and make fun of others because it's amusing. Schadenfreude is a source of – joy. Even the feeling of being wronged can become a wicked pleasure. It can provide an excuse to lash out in lustful anger.

Pleasant feelings = good feelings?

They are not necessarily the same thing! It is easy to deceive oneself.

A trusting faith gives you the courage to admit that you can have toxic emotions. It is important to create new ways of thinking and better habits.

4. Have the courage to admit mistakes

Understanding the world is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle.

Putting the pieces of the puzzle together with a hammer.

Stubbornness and poor judgement. This is how, for example, conspiracy theories are created.

It is important to have an accurate picture of reality. Those who lack patience may try to force the pieces of the puzzle into place. You have to look at the pieces that do not fit.

A trusting faith gives you the courage to admit that you may be wrong. This is not a weakness, but a strength. Acknowledging that you can be wrong is the key to good judgement.


Jerusalem (faith). Athens (reason).

Faith and reason are often at odds. But they don't have to be. They can also work together. 


5. Develop an Interest in Classical Education

In the polarised debate there are often simplistic answers to complex problems. There is one thing that can counteract this and that is classical education.

Classical education is about exploring the world and broadening your horizons. This can mean, for example, studying history. Humanity's collective experience is a huge treasure trove of knowledge.

A jigsaw puzzle.

We need to learn how to put the puzzle of the world together more wisely.

6. Develop a Healthy Inner Strength

We need more antidotes to polarisation. Yoda in Star Wars said:

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Of course it is important to be able to feel fear and anger. It could be a matter of survival. But there is a risk.  

  • Fear can create delusions.

  • Anger can create tunnel vision.

  • Hatred can create blindness.

Many people today live in a state of almost chronic anger. They do not realise that they are corrupting their intellect. It is important to create a defence against the 'dark side'.

Courage means not allowing fear to rule over reason. It is about keeping a cool head in order to see more clearly.

Justice is about creating inner order, according to Plato. For example, it means being able to resist the temptations of power.

Hope (in the Christian sense) is an inner force that is "not of this world". It is independent of the ups and downs of life. It is a source of strength even when the future looks bleak.


 Virtues of Christianity: Faith, Hope, Love. Greek cardinal virtues: Wisdom, Justice, Moderation, Courage.

Jerusalem and Athens - a defence alliance against the dark side.


7. Develop Practical Wisdom

Solving the problems of our time requires practical wisdom, common sense and good judgement. Polarised debate undermines this. This is because many people are drawn to extremes and have unbalanced views. 


Practical wisdom, according to Aristotle, is related to moderation. We often need to find the golden mean and not go too far in either direction. In decision-making situations, it is important not to overreact or underreact.

Integration is about being able to hold a complex world together. It is often a matter of finding the right balance between two opposing poles. For example:

  • Idealism and realism.

  • Unity and diversity.

  • Collectivism and individualism.

  • Order and freedom. 


Cartoon boy looking at two road signs:, Polarisation. Integration

Who finds the better path?

Secularisation does not help! Secularisation creates religious and historical illiterates. How many people today know that Athens and Jerusalem are our historical roots?

8. Develop the Capacity to Integrate

The debate is often characterised by political correctness and political incorrectness. 

  • Politically correct means being respectful but not sincere. It easily leads to hypocrisy.

  • Politically incorrect means saying what you think without showing respect. It easily leads to bullying.

Those who are well integrated have the ability to holdtwo opposing ideas in their minds at the same time. It is possible to be both truthful and considerate.

Conclusion: The Jerusalem-Athens alliance makes us better equipped to deal with the problems of our troubled world. But due to secularisation and bad religion, it is almost forgotten today. We need more people who want to rediscover it and bring it back to life!  

More to follow!
 See below!

Worth fighting for:
Grön pil upp+   Jerusalem-Athens Alliance
Röd pil ned   Emptiness of Secularisation
Röd pil ned   Controlling Religion
There is a healthy counterforce to polarisation. The aim of the 8-step guide is to help more people discover it.
Want to help spread the word? Send the link to some friends and invite them to read this!
I would like to invite you to join me on two journeys of discovery.
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Order here!

Kindle ebook
The 8-step guide is also available in a longer version. In this short book, all steps are covered again, but in more detail: How to Reduce Polarisation Through Faith and Reason. Learn more about how faith creates the ability to integrate. And how it equips us to deal with the problems of the world we live in.
Click here to order from Amazon
Order here!

Kindle ebook
What we need today are more realistic idealists (i.e. world improvers with their feet on the ground). Read the book Adventures and Reflections and get inspired! I alternate my own experiences with reflections and concrete advice. You can read some chapters in the window below.

Texts by Erik Pleijel, published on this website, are licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Cartoon boy: VectorStock; Sloth: FriendlyStock; Cartoon priest: Copyright Brad Fitzpatrick; Other illustrations: CC0 Erik Pleijel.

Contact: email