Why do your beliefs matter? Thoughts become beliefs, then beliefs become our values, and our values become actions.
We are choice-making machines. Our thoughts start a powerful chain reaction. Our thoughts filter through our beliefs to our values. That’s why what you believe matters.
Learn how to channel your thinking into producing good fruit. Everything you believe affects your impact on the world. Western organized religion is in control of much of the programming we receive. The three dominant religions of the world have 4 billion believers, nearly half the world’s population. These are the Semitic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Even if you don’t ascribe to these religions, they impact the cultural narrative, installing their beliefs and values.
Why Your Beliefs Matter
Your beliefs are the rules that run your life. Therefore, we need to scrutinize the rules within our beliefs. It is an urgent matter. What you believe affects you and those in your circle of influence. When an idea gains critical mass that affects communities and then the world, we see this effect in the elections that have taken place in the last ten years.
If you belong to one of the three most popular religions, chances are you did not choose them after weighing the evidence. The two significant reasons for following a religion are; family indoctrination and seeking help in a crisis. Families pass down their beliefs to their children. This type of cultural programming isn’t a choice. It’s forced indoctrination.
The second group of people is those who are vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, you are more susceptible to propaganda. When you are in a crisis, you reach out for support, and religion offers a dualistic ideology to answer your needs. When you are vulnerable, the choice isn’t made after weighing the evidence. Religion uses “bait and switch” tactics that prey on our basic fears. It offers intangibles like the afterlife for your financial support. It is the impulse purchase of an ideology, and this is why your beliefs matter. Your thoughts are part of a powerful chain reaction.
Thoughts Become Beliefs
Every choice starts with a thought. The space between an idea and a belief is sometimes imperceptible—time and space curious elements of perception. We may not realize that the seeds others have planted impact our decision. If we are lucky, we may take the time to wrestle with our thoughts before deciding.
We don’t have to believe everything we think. We should not believe everything that we think. It’s possible to entertain ideas without accepting them. The real problem starts with basing our beliefs about the world on things that we cannot prove. When thoughts become beliefs without a basis, we start down a slippery slope.
Some beliefs are part of our instincts. For instance, many people are afraid of heights. They become fearful of looking out windows in tall buildings. So, fear of falling is a pre-programmed belief.
Groupthink manipulation attaches arbitrary beliefs to our instinctual fears. Religion uses this powerful propaganda machine to install harmful judgments. These judgments are used to justify negative bias, prejudice, and discrimination.
The dominant cultural narrative programs us to judge from an early age. It teaches us to judge using a filter with harmful religious, ethnic, and racial bias and prejudice. One thing is for sure, what we believe influences how we view the world. Our thoughts become beliefs, but we can change them when we get new evidence. We should change our beliefs if we find what we believe is wrong.
Beliefs Become Our Values
The word values seem like an innocent word. However, it is another way of saying I can justify my bias, prejudice, and discrimination. To believe in something is to take a position on some subject. People think all choices are the same, but they are not. Those choices we make that are value judgments have far-reaching implications.
Not all bias is harmful. If you don’t want to eat a particular food instead of another, this may not have detrimental consequences. At least we think so. Sometimes, even the simplest and most innocent decisions may result from a harmful bias if we investigate further.
Our conscience helps us to make decisions based on moral values. It can as long it isn’t subject to programming, which installs negative bias and prejudice. Our beliefs become values that drive behavior. Our personality and instincts also drive our likes and dislikes. These are hard-wired patterns.
The most harmful programming can come from our family environment. As children, we may be subject to the programming of religious prejudice. If you grow up hating someone of a different economic, ethnic, or social background, these prejudices affect every decision you make. Our beliefs become our values and vice versa.
The next level of harmful programming can come from our cultural narrative. Organized religion has a firm hold on projecting its values into the culture. The more extreme the claim, the more people it triggers. It is almost unstoppable.
Once you are an adult, you have the responsibility to fix your unhealthy programming. You can think your way out of it the same way you got in. Remember, your thoughts become beliefs. Using common sense and logic, and some evidence can help you break the chain reaction of unhealthy beliefs.
Values Become Actions
We show our values by the things we do. The greater the value we have for something, the more we will act on its behalf. It is why it is nearly impossible to argue with someone who has already decided about something.
When beliefs become our values, we must act to defend them. Once you take a position, you become obligated to support it, even when the choice is harmful.
The term values relate to basic guidelines that govern behavior. They tell us what is right and what is wrong. So, when we act under these guidelines, we feel a sense of completion. However, values can often contain the same damaging programming as beliefs. So, values are a way of justifying actions that harm others or the environment. They can have bias and prejudice.
For instance, history points out how leaders use a minority group as a scapegoat for national problems, even when they have little impact on the issue. Scapegoats are used to justify inhumane actions like concentration camps. As far-fetched as it seems, this happened in Germany in the 1940s and the United States of America in 2019. Values become actions even when they run against your moral compass.
Unstoppable Chain Reaction
It all starts with a thought, or rather your ability to think. The ideas we support or believe in end up as beliefs. It starts a process where we think something, and we believe it is right. Based on this assumption, we create a framework of beliefs and values. These qualities drive our decisions about our actions. We will keep hammering the point. This is why your beliefs matter.
This sequence of events is something that projects in our attitude and actions. We attract people with the same beliefs, interests, and traits. So, when others mirror them, they believe and follow them. We also know this sociological effect as a mob mentality. Once you are a part of the mob, you act without your conscience or will. You will do things you would not otherwise do if you were alone.
If someone tells you that all choices are the same, they either don’t understand the difference between mundane decisions and ethical implications. What is happening is they want to hide their bias and prejudice, claiming it to be a “simple choice.” They disregard the fact that some mundane choices have negative consequences. For example, shopping at big box retail might save you a few dollars today, but your shopping habits put small shops out of business. This means you have fewer choices, and in the long run, the prices you pay go up because the larger retailer has no competition.
Your beliefs have consequences; they create a chain reaction of behaviors that spiral outward into the world. Look at the actions done in the name of religion. Organized religion is not the answer.
The three dominant religions of the world have 4 billion followers. They have been a part of the cultural narrative fabric for 2000 years, and they are at the root of the world’s wars, genocides, and conflicts. Now you understand why your beliefs matter.
Remember this formula. Thoughts become beliefs. Then beliefs become our values, and our values become actions.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia