Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What a Person Believes...Is

In 1969, a new TV show hit the airwaves called “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” starring Bill Bixby as the father and Brandon Cruz as the son. I don’t remember the details of one particular show, but Bill Bixby’s character made a statement to his son that I have always remembered. He said, “What a person believes….is.” The magnitude of that statement didn’t really hit me until many years later when I began my spiritual journey and became an open-minded believer in all things.

It is so true. It does not matter what a person believes, to him/her it is their truth. Many people see only in black and white and whatever they believe is the only way. Everyone else is wrong. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, whether you’re Democrat, Republican, or Independent, where you live, how you live, or your walk of life. You believe what you believe for whatever reasons (usually based on your upbringing, your experiences, etc.), and that’s all most people need. Everyone who does not believe the way they do is either right or wrong, or good or bad.

In other words, everything we know is just that….a belief. I can already hear people disagreeing, but please stay with me. Let’s take a look at religions. There are thousands of different religions, all believing something different to varying degrees. The believers of those religions believe that their religion is the only religion. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Everyone believes that they are the ones who are right and that everyone else is wrong. This can also be applied to abortion, the death penalty, diets, medical practices, and so much more. Whatever you believe about that particular subject is just that….your belief.

Many years ago, I attended a Native American Sweat Lodge (you sit inside a dome that contains extremely high heat and sweat; it’s very spiritual). Afterwards, I was talking to the Ceremonial Singer and he made the statement, “There is no such thing as right or wrong.” I replied, “Of course there’s such a thing as right or wrong! Killing is wrong.” He countered, “What happens if that person had to kill to save himself, or a family member, or those at war?” We batted back and forth, but he continued to counter back. It took me a good two weeks of constantly pondering that statement before the light bulb went off over my head and I got it.

Some people will argue that they have facts to back up their beliefs. And I can guarantee you that there will be someone else who has facts to back up the exact opposite beliefs. That is one reason I take the title “expert” very lightly. For every expert on one subject, you will find another expert who can prove the exact opposite of the first expert.

Remember, we used to believe that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth. People were put in prison or killed because of those beliefs. Women were burned at the stake if they used herbs for healing. Certain cultures were believed to be sub-human (including women) and genocide occurred to get rid of them (this continues in some countries today). All our beliefs to some degree have changed over the years. We were sure that those beliefs were actual facts.

So, just because someone believes something different than you does not mean that they are right or wrong. It’s just what they believe at this time in their life. I always tell people that I refuse to argue religion, politics, or opinion. Grin. If people want to share and discuss their beliefs, I can discuss with the best of them; but I will not argue and try to make me right and them wrong.

Once you keep an open mind in all things, it is so much easier to find the good in everything and everyone. It comes back to labeling (see previous posting). It becomes much easier to love and accept someone for what and who they are. You stop putting conditions on your love.

One more example that may hit home with many people… Every generation has their way of expressing themselves. When I was in school, we wore mini-skirts (just below the butt), bell-bottoms, hip-huggers, and were just coming out of the tie-die / hippie era. Before me, it was hoop skirts, saddle shoes, leather jackets, and slicked back hair. Elvis was shocking parents all over the world. Today’s generation seems to have gone to the extreme (at least to us older generations). Goth, body piercings, hair that sticks straight up and colored in a rainbow of colors, tattoos, music that is just loud noise… It’s hard to except today’s generation’s expressions because they are so extreme to previous generations. But we need to remember that they are doing the same thing we did when we were growing up.

I would really like to encourage everyone to open your mind to love. Unconditional love. Embrace the diversity that is in our world. We are all the same but different. Allow people to believe whatever they want to believe and respect their right to believe whatever that want to believe (unless they are hurting someone; then they still need to be held accountable). If we could just accept those who believe differently, just think how much better we could get along as a people, a nation, and as a world.

I would like to close with a quote I came up with several years ago. “Life is beautiful, life is good, life is what you believe it to be.”


1 comment:

Joe Ganci said...

Hi, Karen,

I posted this on Facebook a couple of days ago. It seems to go along with what you wrote:

I was speaking with a friend of mine that was questioning the relationship in which she's been involved for a while. She wasn't sure it was right or not. I said on the spur of the moment,

"When you are in a box, it's hard to know what the outside of the box looks like."

I think that's an original saying.

It makes sense for so many things in life besides relationships.

When we only watch a news channel that agrees with our political views, it's difficult to know how the other side really thinks.

When we consider our own religion the only true one and all others wrong, it's difficult to understand how convinced those of other faiths can be of their own religions.

When we find ourselves cleaving to only those of our skin color or culture, it is very difficult to appreciate what other races and cultures can bring to our lives.

Yes, it's also true that nobody should pretend to know what is going on between a husband and wife, for instance. They alone can decide what is best for them, but getting the opinion of a trained professional or a trusted friend with good judgment can be very helpful in seeing the outside of the box, in seeing those things that are otherwise difficult for them to see from the inside of the relationship.