Belief Systems Examined
This column often explores the many variations of what people believe and the precepts they follow. Most of our beliefs have come to us over a period of time starting with what our parents dished out to us when we were just clueless kids. Then our teachers and preachers added their two cents, and of course, there was the wisdom that was passed on to us by our schoolmates – which for a while had great significance, but lessened as we grew older (but not necessarily wiser). Then, the greatest teacher of all, experience, took over until we finally settled on our own individualistic set of beliefs.
With some of us, the precepts we received and accepted early have endured in tact all the way to the present; others of us have maintained our original set of beliefs but with some interesting modifications; and finally, another batch of us dumped the original and/or early versions like tepid, used bath water, and now we bathe in waters bubbling from many different springs. But no matter how the layers of person’s belief systems are peeled back to reveal the present set of beliefs – the fact is that every person has a belief system and for the most part, each one is convinced that theirs is a – if not the only – valid one. There are not too many people who base their lives on something that they know is not true. Well, maybe Bernie Madoff and a few others have.
But believing that something is true does not necessarily make it so. And this is where the going gets rough like sledding over rocks with no snow cover as you might be in for some very uncomfortable bumps as you dig a little deeper into your “truths. It is so very easy to dismiss the “truths” held by other folks as being utterly nonsensical, irrational, delusional, and even diabolical because they are so contradictory to what you know is so obviously true, requiring little if any deliberation on your part. A couple of “for instances” of this would be the Hindu idea that the universe sits on the back of a very large turtle; or the Scientology belief that “souls reincarnate and have lived on other planets before living of Earth” (Wikpedia). These concepts spark a response like, “Are you kidding!”
But don’t expect the Hindi or the Scientologist to thank you for setting them straight because it is their unshakeable truth come hell or high water! The Christian knows that the Universe was created out of nothing by God; and evolutionist insists that everything came to be out of a purely random process starting with a loud chemical explosion in he middle of nowhere. Is it possible that the Hindi might respond to each saying, “Are you kidding!” out of his frame of turtle truth?
I tossed this profound subject to Raul Smedley, chief brainiac of the Smedley Philosophy and Theology Institute, for his take on this weighty matter of TRUTH. Rising to the challenge once again, Smedley hit the books, spending three days and nights fasting in an Indian sweat lodge while reading Joyce Brothers, Dear Abby, George Carlin, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Dr. Phil, Oral Roberts, Carl Sagan, Donahue, Ghandi, Aristotle, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gypsy Rose, and countless other sages. Finally, on the fourth day, a weary, shriveled Smedley staggered out of the lodge and read this unforgettable paean as inscribed on ancient papyrus:
“Rose are Red, Violets are blue.
Truth is elusive to know who is your Maker,
What really matters is what kind of a person are you –
Are you a Giver or are you a Taker?”
“Canaries are Yellow, Bears are Brown.
All Earth’s children deserve love,
So it is for Us to treat them as our Own.
Then we will know the Truth that is above.” (SIC)