ideologyTo what extent should we embrace ideology?
I agree most strongly with litteacher8, that there are significant risks in embracing an ideology. Most of us use our ideologies as a set of blinders, not allowing ourselves to see alternative points of view. This leads to situations like Nazi Germany and repressive Communist regimes. On the other hand, I tend to be concerned about people who have no ideology at all, because the risk there is that one can so easily be persuaded to buy into the latest trend in thinking or politics or whatever the case might be. An ideology can and should act as an ethical framework for people and a means of ensuring some consistency in thought and action. This does not mean that one should have a kneejerk response of approval or disapproval, but that one can assess whether a thought or action is in keeping with one's principles or whether or not a thought or action is truly in opposition. A good example of this that I always like to use is that of busing school children. I have a very liberal ideology, and people are always shocked to hear me say I oppose busing for the purpose of integration. But it is not in keeping with my ideology, which insists that there is something offensive about the notion that African-American children can only succeed if they are seated next to white children, and which also insists that it is only in the integration of housing that we can have "natural" ways of allowing people to know one another.
A short answer to this question is, "We should embrace ideology insofar as it is productive and beneficial to our relationship with reality and with our communities."
If we embrace ideology to too great an extent, we will be inflexible. Our views will become too stiff to bend to the realities of experience and the complexity of the actual world we live in.
However, it has been pointed out above that ideology can be helpful in that a functional value-based world view can help us to navigate the many complexities that we commonly face.
Understanding that ideology is a simplification of perspective molded into a code, we can adhere to ideology without mistaking it for the "whole truth".
We all embrace ideologies, so I would argue that there is nothing inherently wrong in doing so. What is important is to be able to critically evaluate the positions we take--to be willing to reconsider them in the face of evidence or the opinions of others. It is also important to be tolerant. We need to, in a word, be willing to recognize our own biases and how our ideology is related to our circumstance.
I think that ideology can give us a sense of purpose and belonging, but it can also be dangerous. We do not want to get so caught up in what we strongly believe that we forget to embrace others' ideas, and have tolerance for others.