See why your beliefs matter and how they create a ripple effect in your sphere of influence. Thoughts become beliefs, then these become our values, and our values become actions. But it goes farther than that, so come and see how your beliefs affect others.
We are choice-making machines. Our decisions start a powerful chain reaction. Our thoughts, either positive or negative, become behaviors. That’s why what you believe matters.
Most people want their lives to produce value for themselves and others. You may have more influence than you realize. Everything you believe affects not only you, but everyone in your circle of influence. And this chain reaction doesn’t stop there, everyone you touch also affects others. It all starts with the source of your programming. Where do you get your programming?
Western organized religion is in controls of much the world’s programming. These are the three dominant religions of the Abrahamic tree with 4 billion believers, nearly half the world’s population. You know them as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Even if you don’t follow them, they still affect your thinking. Their mythologies, superstitions, and values are a major part of the dominant cultural narrative.
Why Your Beliefs Matter
Your beliefs are the rules that run your life. Therefore, we need to scrutinize the laws 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 its effect. The manipulation of opinion through the media reached new heights in the US Presidential election of 2016. (1)
“Religion becomes a matter of belief, and belief acts as a limitation on the mind; and the mind then is never free.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
Religious beliefs have been a major factor in many of the elections worldwide over the last 10 years. The Abrahamic religions became the banner of many right-wing groups. Moderates became more extreme. Hate became the banner of religious and political right wing fanaticism.
Sadly ,if you belong to one of the Abrahamic religions, chances are you did not choose them after weighing the evidence. You became a follower one of two ways; either it was a part of your family/cultural indoctrination or you were someone seeking help because of a crisis.
Families and cultures routinely indoctrinate their children. This type of cultural programming is brainwashing, not a choice. Most children from these cultures do not have the freedom to choose their beliefs. Many social scientists call this kind of treatment child abuse.
The second group of people who fall into these religions are people in crisis, people who need some type of help. When you are in need, you are vulnerable and 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, you don’t choose 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, which is why your beliefs matter, because your thoughts are part of a powerful chain reaction.
“The true believer, no matter how rowdy and violent his acts, is basically an obedient and submissive person.” — Eric Hoffer
Thoughts Become Beliefs
Every choice starts with a thought. The space between an idea and a belief is sometimes imperceptible—time and space are 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. 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, and they become fearful of looking out windows in tall buildings. So, fear of falling is a pre-programmed belief.
Groupthink manipulation is an umbrella of psychological brainwashing methods, including propaganda and censorship. Its main tools are self-hypnosis and group hypnosis. With these tools, they can attach arbitrary beliefs to our instinctual fears. Religion uses this powerful propaganda machine to install harmful judgments. These judgments justify negative bias, prejudice, and discrimination.
The dominant cultural narrative programs us to judge from an early age. It teaches us to use harmful religious, ethnic, and racial bias and prejudice. What we believe influences how we view the world. Our thoughts become beliefs, but we can change them with 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. The choices we make are value judgments which can have far-reaching implications. (2)
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 most straightforward 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 are responsible for fixing 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, logic, and some evidence can help you break the chain reaction of unhealthy beliefs. Mythology can be harmful when it becomes a religion. Religion often substitutes myths for facts in a blatant attempt to make belief and faith perform like knowledge.
Values Become Actions
We show our values by the things we do. The greater the value we have for something, the more we 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 biases 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. A scapegoat enables people 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 begins when we decide we are right about something. Based on this assumption, we create a framework to support our conclusion. And that’s why your beliefs matter. It’s a process that is a nearly unstoppable chain reaction.
The chain reaction prevents people from stopping the thinking about the consequences. The more extreme your beliefs, the less likely you are to question acts of violence. Beliefs become a way to justify harmful actions.
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 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 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. It means you have fewer choices, and in the long run, the prices you pay go up because of the lack of 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.
“Never underestimate the power of the human mind to believe what it wants to believe, no matter the conflicting evidence.” — Brian Herbert
Remember this formula. Thoughts become beliefs. Then beliefs become our values, and our values become actions.
(1) Why Beliefs Matter: Reflections on the Nature of Science: https://silo.pub/why-beliefs-matter-reflections-on-the-nature-of-science.html
(2) Why Beliefs Matter | Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ethics-everyone/201101/why-beliefs-matter