The workings of the human mind fascinate me.
Take the concept of belief, for instance. Belief is the acceptance that something is true or exists. A human being can convince him or herself just about anything is OK, whether there are facts backing it up or not. Some beliefs are socially acceptable, such as it is not polite to pick your nose then eat it. Others are not.
Beliefs are not necessarily real. They are just things we’ve convinced ourselves are so. Farting is considered impolite in public, but believing that doesn’t stop you from letting one go when you can’t hold it in any longer.
A belief system is a set of beliefs. It’s the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of ourselves and the world around us. Like those that believe that the world was created in 6 days and is 6000 years old, even though practically every scientist who studies that kind of thing say the earth is over 4 billion years old. These “young earth” believers are undaunted, and point to the Bible as the basis for their beliefs.
Once we have our belief system in place, we then proceed to try to convince others to believe as we do. That’s how societal norms are established. It’s how many laws are changed. For instance, people in this country once believed it was OK to deny homosexuals the right to marry. They used passages in the Bible to support their stance, and convinced others to, if not stand with them, at least not stand against them.
But some people believed that to deny homosexuals the right to marry was discrimination, and they began raising their voices. As time went on, these voices convinced others to change their minds about the issue. This led to a Supreme Court ruling that says homosexual persons may now marry anywhere in the country. While we still have those that are fighting to overturn that ruling, most of us now hold the belief that to deny gay marriage is discriminatory, and see those holdouts as bigots.
To change the belief system of a nation is not an easy task, but it requires those of us who seek to enact change to raise our voices and convince others that our beliefs hold validity.
It’s a daunting task to stand against stupidity. Hard to imagine we have people in this country who believe slavery is acceptable, such as the four men arrested in an FBI undercover sting operation after they attended a “slave auction” in Arizona and thought they’d purchased a kidnapped woman to be kept in slavery. One of the men had an underground dungeon set up to keep his slave captive.
Or there’s those who believe slavery wasn’t all that bad, like Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann, who signed a pledge saying that African Americans were better off during slavery because “A child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”
And then we have those who believe those in our government are smart enough to stage a moon landing, keep the truth about JFK’s assassination secret, hide extra-terrestrials from us, and stage a school shooting to take away our guns.
Let’s face it, when one of the leading presidential candidates subscribes to the “young earth” belief, another is convinced abortion clinics are selling baby brains, and yet another dismisses gun violence as “stuff happens,” it doesn’t speak well of our society, does it? After all, these folks are still in the race because they’ve found a significant number of people who subscribe to their beliefs and will give them money.
But I’m not worried. I never thought I’d see gay marriage legal in my lifetime, but it is! And I know other changes will come along as well, as long as we keep speaking out about what we believe, and not what we’re paid to say.
More change is coming! Are you ready?