Everybody defines their beliefs based on their relative experience. I can’t stress enough the importance of acceptance and tolerance of what others believe. Just because you accept or tolerate something, that doesn’t mean that you must adopt it for yourself; it just means that you are open to hear what others have to say and respect where they are coming from, regardless of whether or not you agree or not. I find it rather odd that the same people that speak words of love, peace and harmony, live life in a completely opposite manner. You can’t preach love, but hate your brother; you can’t talk about acceptance but not be willing to tolerate certain things. It is this type of inconsistent living that is the cause of much of the imbalance and strife that the world is facing today. I’m no saint. There was a time when I was accused of such backwards living. “Jimmy, you be saying one thing and do something totally opposite”. I heard those words a lot over the past eight years. At first I would brush them off and vehemently justify my own actions. I would allow pride to get the best of me rather than taking a critical look at what was really being said to me. You see, nobody likes to feel like they are being criticized for what they do. I would take any criticism of my life as an attack, rather than taking it as opportunity to critique. I fell into a weak-sense of thinking:
“Those who do not hold themselves, or those with whom they ego-identify, to the same intellectual standards to which they hold “opponents”; those who have not learned how to reason empathically within points of view or frames of reference with which they disagree; those who tend to think unilaterally; those who do not genuinely accept, though they may verbally espouse, the values of critical thinking; those who use the intellectual skills of critical thinking selectively and self-deceptively to foster and serve their vested interests (at the expense of truth); able to identify flaws in the reasoning of others and refute them; able to shore up their own beliefs with reasons.” (Paul, R. (1995). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World.)
Those who tend to think in this manner oftentimes find themselves defending unreasonable and illogical concepts. I have also run across plenty of religious minded individuals whom also fall into this category. Before I continue, I am in no way attacking what anybody has to believe. What you believe and how you arrived there is of no consequence to me. My thing is this; when I have questions about something, I don’t need for you to just regurgitate what it is that you heard. Also, I am not trying to attack you as a person. I just have questions about what you believe in and how you arrived at it. Simple enough you’d think? It’s through questioning that which we don’t understand that we arrive at logical answers. Some people rely on “faith” alone; a belief that things will undoubtedly work themselves out with no effort on the individuals behalf. I subscribe to this way of thinking to a degree. I have a lot of faith, but I know that nothing is going to fall out the sky or be handed to me. I have to put forth some type of effort. Doctrine even teaches people this: Take one step towards God and He takes two steps towards you (and this is not exclusive to any one religion, it’s a proverb that predates many of the world’s standing religions).
Anyway, I’m not here to start any arguments or to get into a pissing match over which way of living is the right way. Only the individual can determine that for themselves. What may work for you, may not necessarily work for the next person. That’s just the way it is. In a perfect world, we would all be believe the same exact things and praise the same exact way, but would it worth anything? The excitement and the enlightenment comes not from the words we speak, but from the path we take to receive them. It’s the quest for knowledge that sparks the growth within mankind. At the end of the day, we may all realize that although we traveled different paths, that we all end up at the same destination.
So what do you believe in? Why do you believe that? Is it out of fear? Is it from lack of understanding of anything else? Is it fear of persecution from a secular society? Are you strong enough to challenge your own will and your own thoughts? Be free, be humble and to thine own self be true. What you seek is no further than the vessel that covers thy soul. One…