Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing we have—any of us—is beliefs. We look for truths, think we have one, and then something tells us something that contradicts our truth. So, based on this new evidence we change our minds to another truth. We believe something different. For instance, for a long time people thought the world was flat. They believed it was. That fact was their truth. Then they learned differently. They had to change their belief. Similarly, there is a belief among many people that war is inevitable, that there has always been war among men, that it is an essential part of human nature and is inevitable. That is a truth for many. However, anthropologists have shown that this is not so, that man’s existence on this earth has been mostly peaceful and war is recent and due to factors of our own creation.

So it goes. Beliefs change. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact it’s a good thing. As new information is gained about the nature of the world and the nature of people, we have to adapt to conform to the new information. There would be a problem if we didn’t change and that’s where the real problems start.

In fact, it’s a relief to recognize that your beliefs are that, only beliefs and not truth—or worse, Truth with a capital T. If you have only beliefs then everyone else has only beliefs as well. With that attitude, it’s possible to recognize that you or the other person may be wrong. With a little talk and a little digging you may come up with some ideas as to whose belief is better, or perhaps that the beliefs of both of you lack something. That sort of attitude is not possible if you believe that you have the Truth. There can be only one Truth, so obviously if you have the Truth then the other fellow has to be wrong. It gets really complicated when one of your beliefs is that it is your duty to see that the other person has to accept the Truth that you know. That’s the way wars start.

So, I’m willing to believe that we have only beliefs. It saves arguing and makes life simpler and pleasanter. Anyway, that’s what I believe at the present time.

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