Uncommon Sense

May 24, 2008

Is Belief what we’re fighting for?

Filed under: beliefs,questions,Religion,thinking,Thoughts — Derek @ 1:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

Once upon a time, there lived Believers. It was important to Believers to Believe. And so they did. Of course, the First Difficult Thing was that they didn’t all have the same Beliefs.

Before I explain why this was Difficult, it’s important to explain what Beliefs were. Beliefs were ideas about Being, and yet the Beliefs that Believers Believed were not the Being part, they were Symbols of it. Very much like the shadows that are made when a Being gets in the way of the light, they were like Being but weren’t Being; rather they were an approximation or representation of Being.

The Believers subscribed so strongly to their Beliefs that they eventually lost sight of Being, and here’s why the First Difficult Thing was Difficult: Everyone saw the same Being, but called it by different names, and they believed that their different names made the Being different. This couldn’t possibly Be, but it was difficult to see that once you Believed in a certain Description. It was equally difficult to see how others could have another Description, since they Believed that there could only be one Description of Being. Naturally, this caused some problems, because, when you can’t even come to an agreement concerning what Being is, it’s Difficult to agree on anything.

It’s important to explain how Beliefs were not the same as Being. One could not point to a belief and say “There’s a Belief”. Beliefs were only implied in the Events of Being. One would observe an event and assert that it had resulted from a Belief. Beliefs were not like Events, they were like the Motives behind Events, and one could never be sure that the Belief one had chosen really was the reason for the Event, since Beliefs were invisible, in most cases even to Believers, many of whom were unaware of the Beliefs’ existence. Many had this idea that they ’just did things’ which was a convenient way of avoiding rummaging around inside their heads and questioning their Beliefs. Believers, for the most part, were not good at Questioning. They were at their best when Believing. Questioning, Believers believed, was for the Thinkers.

It was difficult to determine whether Beliefs existed at all outside Believers. The way Believers behaved, one could almost be convinced that Beliefs had an existence all of their own. In fact, Believer’s behaviour was influenced more by their Beliefs than Being itself, which is strange when you consider that there was no evidence for the existence of these Beliefs besides the Believers’ Believing; the Beliefs themselves were invisible. In addition, it was not certain that Believers who huddled together in groups all Believed the same thing, since Beliefs seemed to have an inconsistency in that they were applied on some cases and in others not, which made it all the more difficult to determine what exactly they were. Beliefs were like Symbols – things that represent Being but were not Being.

It seemed that most Believers acted in most cases, to defend these Symbols. Other Believers, however, were involved in the pursuit of something else, perhaps a little less elusive, and seemed unconcerned with Beliefs.

These Believers pursued Value. It took a long time to work out that Value itself was really a type of Belief because it was driven, underpinned, created or synonymous with a Belief but this was no matter to these specific Believers. They wanted Value, and there was nothing more to be said. “Why complicate things by investigating the Beliefs underlying the Value I’m pursuing?”, they seemed to say, “Its enough that I desire it”. So Value became “whatever Believers liked”, and this led to the Second Difficult Thing.

Before I can clarify the Second Difficult Thing, it will be necessary to explain what effect Value had. If everyone had agreed on What Constituted Value, then there would have been No Problem. But what was valuable to one Believer was not valuable to another and in many cases, their individual Values were mutually exclusive. Not only that, there was another problem. This problem was The Cost of Value, which had three aspects:

The most obvious Cost of Value was the investment in currency – time, energy or money – required in order to derive a particular form of Value. This was a cost to the Investor. The second Cost, a little less visible but nonetheless relevant, and also a cost to the Investor, was the Value Sacrificed by making the investment. Everyone had a limited amount of currency, and so any investment could not be placed in two places at the same time. One had to make a choice between a number of optional Value forms, and once the choice was made, those not chosen were Value Sacrificed by the Investor, and some saw this as an inalienable right.

It was the third type of Cost of Value, the Trade-Off, that was least visible to the Investor, and gave rise to the Second Difficult Thing. Believers viewed these Value choices from the singular perspective, that of the individual. Now the singular perspective of a Value choice is very different from the Independent perspective, that is, the point of view of the Whole. The Trade-Off was different, and instead of merely being a Cost to the Investor, it was a Cost to the Whole. Being was finite, that is, it had boundaries and limits. And in a finite Being, any form of Value has this unfortunate consequence – Value could not be derived, when seen from the perspective of the Whole, without a Trade-Off; that is to say, something had to be given up for a given Value to be derived. Believer’s Values were often in conflict, because Value by each other’s Descriptions were Trade-Offs of each other! It seemed that Being could not deliver Value to all. So Value was Value and non-Value at the same time; the Sum was Zero.

This Trade-Off Value was not immediately evident to Believers, because Value was ‘whatever they desired’, and in many cases, many things that were important to the Whole were not desirable to Believers. This was what made the Second Difficult Thing a Problem: the consequences of non-investment in these Undesirable Values were significant enough that they threatened, not only the Being of others, but Being itself. There was no incentive for Believers to invest in the Whole.

One would think that knowledge of this would cause Believers to reconsider their choices. But Believers were not good at viewing things from the perspective of the Whole. Most Believers liked to wear Thought Blinkers so they didn’t have to Think about Things. It was difficult to keep your identity if you started to Think about Wholes and Big Pictures, and Identity was very important to Believers. Besides, Thinking was tiring. It was this unwillingness to spend energy in Thought that characterised the Third Difficult Thing.

Every Belief was composed of other bits. And these other bits were what gave rise to the Belief, propped it up, so to speak. Not that Believers ever opened up their Beliefs and looked inside – it was as if there were horrible nasties and creepy-crawlies within and Nobody in their Right Minds ventured in there. There were, of course, Things hiding inside their Beliefs: The Dreaded Underlying Assumptions. Of course, Assumptions were necessary in order for Beliefs to maintain their Identity, for it is only when Things are Not Known that Assumptions are necessary. Beliefs are based upon what is Not Known, otherwise they would be Facts. So Believers based their Existence on the Unknown, which Thinkers thought very strange.

Believers dreaded the Questions that Thinkers raised, because the Questions suggested that the Assumptions that brought Believer’s Beliefs into Being lacked Substance. So the Thought Blinkers went back on. It was safer that way.

Why this became the Third Difficult Thing was this: If Believers never examined what they believed, there was no necessity to Change. And if Believers did not change, then nothing would, because most things happened because Believers, acting on their Beliefs, made them happen. The Status Quo would remain, which would be very sad from the Believer’s perspectives, because most of them were very unhappy.



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