“I discovered that it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing. That is, we have to believe in something which has no form and no color–something which exists before all forms and colors appear… No matter what god or doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centered idea.” – Shunryu Suzuki
Have you ever taken the time to examine what you believe and why you believe it? For those of you Americans that read this blog I think this would be a good time to do this.
For most of us, our core set of beliefs are the foundation for which we have built our life upon. Like a house or a skyscraper everything else, the walls, windows, doors and roof are built on top of those bricks we have laid. Our foundations are typically influenced by a combination of our environment, our up bring, and the region that we live in. For some each of these influences may have equal sway but for others one may be more influential than the other. For instance, I grew up in an area and during a time that racial prejudice was considered a norm. There were many prevailing thoughts and stereotypes about blacks in the environment that I grew up in. But my parents weren’t racist, in fact, both my parents went out on the limb incurring both the ridicule and the wrath of many in our neighborhood by speaking out on racism. Their position, their belief, built my foundation today, a foundation that I have expanded to include other oppressed groups in our society and have since passed on to my children.
In this presidential election, like the ones before, we are being asked to pick a candidate whose values and core beliefs most closely match our own. Depending on what poll you choose to believe, the current number of “undecideds” runs anywhere from 15% to 30%. This doesn’t surprise me and honestly it makes me happy. What it tells me is some people aren’t goose stepping along party lines. They are thinking, contemplating and examining the candidates not the doctrine of their party.
What do you believe and why do you believe it? Are you open-minded about your beliefs, is there room for compromise, new thoughts and new ideas or are you done, ready to fight to the death to honor and defend them? I don’t ask this to judge I simply ask this to make to you think.
I know that many of you will have the short answer of “God is my foundation” or you will quote Jesus when he described Peter with the “upon this rock I will build my church” refrain. If that makes you a more caring, compassionate, and loving person to all humans, creatures and creation then “Go Forth and Prosper”. But if your core beliefs make you judgmental and hateful to those not on your same path, I hope you will take a moment and reflect on what you believe and why you believe it. Maybe it is a waste of time, maybe you are too far gone or would be too embarrassed to change or lose face with your peers. But then again maybe you will discover that thing, that need that you have been missing. That hole you have been unable to fill. The world changes, it is okay to change with it sometimes.
“Everybody’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”― W.C. Fields