I received in my email a comment made on another blog, a reply to a post questioning ones belief and religion. While both belief and religion are a personal matter, until recently in most of the world they both were monitored and controlled by people with the power and ability to make ones life most unpleasant up to and including a prolonged and horrifying death if one strayed too far from the center.
In a few areas this has not changed. Even today in some parts of the world people are routinely banished from their villages, relieved of their possessions. Occasionally, body parts are hacked off, and their life taken because their belief system does not align itself with the powers that be. In some cases it is only perception rather than any actual proofs or observations that caused someone to be banished or killed over belief or religion.
Thousands of years ago – to present day in some places in the world, what and how you believe determines whether you will be alive to see the sunrise tomorrow. Possibly your answer may even determine if you will be alive two minutes from now. What luxury we have to ponder our beliefs out loud, and have a hopefully rational exchange of ideas and opinions on them.
We in the Western world, for the most part have it easy. When asked what we believe or profess to believe we have multiple courses of action. We can state our beliefs, we can allude to what we may believe, or we can claim it is personal and applicable only to ourselves, and choose not to share with others. In most situations any of these types of responses are acceptable, and there are no repercussions.
What if there is no wiggle room? What if your beliefs do not agree with the status quo? What if that difference means you may lose your life? What does one do in that situation? Does one publicly profess to whatever those with the power to end your life want to hear, or if one believes differently, do they state their beliefs, and suffer the fate straying from the paved road. What if straying means torture and eventual death?
Brittany’s s blog post , concerns the correctness of her personal belief system; questioning which parts of her belief are correct, and which areas may not be correct. This has been a relevant personal question for thousands of years and will continue to be relevant as long as one group has the power and ability to influence another.
Before jumping to conclusions of our own beliefs and bravery contained therein, I would like to mention the Leader of the Catholic Church. The last Pope after being shot, and now apparently all future Popes, have chosen safety over their beliefs. They have chosen the safer path, being transported through crowds in their protected bullet proof vehicle, affectionately named the ‘PopeMobile‘.
If someone that rooted in their belief system and faith such as the Pope(s) chooses the safer route, how many of us are really ready to put our own wishy-washy half baked beliefs on the line, with the knowledge our public pronouncement of our faith could lead to our death?
I for one know that it is easier to sit in the safety of my home, and say I would do this, or I would do that, knowing that the time should never come when I am doing what I think I would do, knowing my life is in jeopardy whatever my answer may be.
I would like to think that each of us, no matter what our belief system and possibly aligned religion have determined without hesitation what we believe is something we are willing to defend to our death. Settling for less is living a lie of convenience. There needs to be a sliding gauge in place however.
Expecting the same of a twelve year old as we would of an eighty year old is neither practical nor balanced. A typical twelve year old is barely aware of themselves as an individual, let alone what their true beliefs are and why they have them. Whereas an eighty year old has had a lifetime to think, test, and determine what is true for them.
Perhaps it is likely that the eighty year old is willing and ready to put their life on the line for their beliefs, but one would hope they have traveled down many paths before setting themselves on their chosen path.
For most people however, questioning your beliefs is natural and common. Everyone has doubts. Everyone wonders if what they believe is what they should believe. Those that ignore these doubts and questions have lead lives of lies because they never challenged what they believe and tested what they were told.
Bravery and Belief are not one word. Nor is Belief and Blind Acceptance one word. We all should strive to challenge our beliefs and not be afraid to modify them if we find them faulty, or untrue. Whether we are willing to perish for our beliefs is another matter completely and can only be answered by each of us individually.