Our Beliefs & Ignorance

Deep within the core of every human lies a system of beliefs that play a significant role in our daily lives. The opinions we form, decisions we make, determinations of what is or isn’t important, and the way we interact with others, are all influenced consciously & sub-consciously by what we believe and how those beliefs fit in with our instinctual/tribal needs or desires. Essentially, they are a major part of what makes us, us.

Our beliefs help us identify the type of person we are, or want to become, and remind us of where we stand within this enormous universe. They provide insight during moments when answers can’t be found and make sense of a world that rarely makes any sense at all. Many of us rely on them to get us through the day since they are responsible for helping us find purpose, meaning, and comfort that isn’t found anywhere other than within. These beliefs are the foundation that defines what it means to be an individual.

Most of our beliefs are developed from external influences–social, political, environmental, family structure, etc.–but are often molded during our youth while change dwindles as we enter adulthood. It’s not to say beliefs can’t change, but it certainly becomes harder when they are reinforced or unchallenged by our surroundings.

It is important to believe something in this life for the reasons mentioned above, but we’ve noticed a few interesting trends among our peers and those we monitor on social media: people are using their convictions as a defense for questionable behavior, as reasons to attack other ideologies, as an excuse to ignore new or dissenting information, and to justify the type of people they’ve become. We’ve come to the point in our society where convictions are more important than facing truths and finding common ground with those who don’t share the same point of view.

Let’s take, for example, a Christian and an Atheist. At the very basic level, Christians believe there is a god and atheists do not, but both believe they are right. Christians may (I say this in a general sense and does not necessarily apply to all Christians or atheists) close themselves off to atheistic ideologies and attack their views while an atheist may do the same, which gets us nowhere. One has just as much faith in their beliefs as the other, yet dissenters are typically considered ignorant, ill-informed or just plain stupid.

Faith plays a major role in the above example and all other beliefs as well. I’m going to use our elected officials as another example–a majority of us put our faith in the people we believe are best fit to lead us and represent our needs. Whether or not the person chosen will work out the way we planned is always determined with time.  

On a personal note, I believe in the information provided by modern science and put my faith in those who are deemed experts because I am incapable of dedicating my time and limited knowledge to find the answers myself, but there is hardly a difference between the way I believe and the way others do.

By now you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this so I’ll get to the point–beliefs are just that, beliefs. They are subjective opinions and interpretations of information presented to us throughout our lives in which we base our convictions and determine absolute truths from. The only thing is: they apply as a truth to the individual and we lack the ability to figure out what absolute truths are (for now).

I believe in some of the people we voted into office, and the majority of the world’s scientists and what they represent, but that does not mean they cannot be proven wrong. I also lean on the agnostic side but that doesn’t mean there isn’t validity to a belief in a god. I cannot prove, beyond any shred of doubt, there is no god…just the same as a theist cannot prove the opposite. We all have faith that our convictions and beliefs are true.

So where do we go from here?

Again, it would seem our society allows the strength of an argument for one’s opinion or actions to be valid because of what is believed. We here at shortlifelongroad think that we should still choose things to believe in but allow our beliefs to be malleable or susceptible to change. That doesn’t mean we have to do a 180 each time new information is presented to us, but maybe we should consider finding a way to fit new evidence within our already held constructs. That way, we don’t become ignorant to change or different opinions.

Too often we’ve seen people close themselves off to ideas, principles, outlooks, etc. that don’t fit within their belief system and we think it hinders our ability as humans to grow as an individual and make positive progress in our society. Comfort in one’s beliefs often leads to stagnation, which eventually turns into ignorance, and I think it goes without saying our society/world needs some serious work and open-mindedness.

It is our belief that every single person should believe in something but not hurt others with those convictions and not allow ourselves to become stagnant in an ever-changing and ever-growing world. Let’s recognize our convictions as a truth we’ve created for ourselves and learn from things outside our “belief bubble.” We don’t have to accept them as truths, but there’s no harm in learning about the way others think.

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