Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true and confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.
In Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass”, the White Queen says, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” This is often quoted in mockery of the common ability of people to entertain and maintain beliefs contrary to facts, evidenced in a myriad of ways today, some of which we’ll be exploring.
We exist in a three dimensional reality in which all matter is contained in the confines of width, depth and height. Many great minds (including the late, great Carl Sagan) believe(d) there is a forth dimension and probably an endless number of dimensions. We are unable to picture them because we are trapped in a 3-D reality and even the forth dimension remains an abstract concept. But it’s not just a matter of space. There’s also the matter of time.
As humans, our reality is limited by our belief in time, which may very well be Nature’s way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Everything that will eventually happen is in the Future. Everything that’s ever happened is in the Past. But neither of these are real. The Future hasn’t happened yet and the Past is gone (other than the detrius of memories, photos, documents, etc).
I have probably forgotten (or can’t recall with any clarity) 99.99% of what’s happened in my life on an hour by hour basis. What I can recall, no matter how vivid it may seem, is not accurate and has been shaped by my prejudices and beliefs (and possibly the lingering after effects of Woodstock).
The only Reality is NOW and it appears to be flashing by as fast as it arrives. You’ve already forgotten some or all of what you’ve just read. ZOOM zoom gone into “the Past.” Every moment we spend thinking about the Future or recalling the Past are moments that we are not in the NOW. What’s in our NOW? For most of us, a whirling mixture of inputs through our five senses coming from computer screens, smart phones, ear buds, conversations, driving, random thoughts, television, background noise, different smells, tastes, textures, et al. Our minds are constantly processing all this input and comparing it to previous inputs so we can make sense of it all.
The sound of silence is nearly a thing of the past except for those who practice a form of meditation or live monastically. We are addicted to stimulation and without it we feel incomplete, bored and compelled to do something to fill the gap. In doing so, we may have chosen to effectively close our connection to the reality and existence…. of God…. the Creator… Yaweh … the Supreme Being…..the Universe or the Anunnaki. Let’s not get side tracked, as so often happens, arguing about the name. But maybe “it” is the razor thin edge of reality that is NOW.
We tend to internalize and accept the beliefs of the people around us during childhood. Albert Einstein is often quoted as having said that “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” Influences from family, television, school, church and peer pressure all help shape our beliefs. The stronger our beliefs, the longer we’ve held them, and the number of people that share our beliefs, determine how impervious they are to change or challenge and to what degree they affect our thoughts and actions. No one wants to admit they have based any of their life on untruths and/or that they are wrong. Many will go to extraordinary lengths to defend their beliefs, regardless of proof to the contrary.
Santa is real for millions of children because they are taught to believe he is real by people they trust and respect. Not just in the concept of Santa, but a real flesh and blood Santa sitting on his throne at the local mall. This belief generates hundreds of billions of dollars in retail sales year after year and represents 20-40% of annual sales for most retailers, who gladly use a small part of their bounty to keep the belief alive. For many children, this is one of the first lies they are exposed to and it can be a powerful lesson if you are the last one in the class denying it’s really your parents buying the presents and eating the cookies you left for Santa. On another level, how many of us have picked up on the red suit and simple re-arranging of letters that turned SATAN into the jolly and benevolent SANTA? The Tooth Fairy is another example, but certainly not as popular with retailers and advertisers for obvious reasons.
“Belief like any other moving body follows the path of least resistance.” Samuel Butler
A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition.
Only a mere handful of people truly believe in E.T’s or the supernatural and they are generally mocked by the rest of the population. Curiously, most deities that people worship and revere are, in fact, extra terrestrials and supernaturals…. gods, angels and those who have “ascended to heaven” are not of this earth. But these believers are great in number and are banded together in recognized and respected organizations. None of them can produce any tangible evidence to validate their beliefs, but will vigorously, often viciously, defend them.
“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” Bertrand Russell
There is overwhelming evidence that 9/11 did not happen as officially documented and reported by the mainstream media, yet hundreds of millions of people still believe these reports are true. There is no doubt that those buildings collapsed and most of the people in them died on 9/11. It is understandable that most people, particularly Americans, choose to believe “Muslim terrorists,” rather than their own “government”, were responsible for this tragedy. The result of this widespread belief has been a pandemic of Islamaphobia, the War on Terror and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people which continues to this day. What would the result have been if the responsibility for this crime against humanity had been placed at the feet of the real perpetrators?
The power of positive thinking has been promoted for decades. Think and grow rich. Build it and they will come. Does it work? Many would say “yes”. Was it cosmic magic or simply focusing attention on a particular, well defined goal, developing a plan to achieve it, and persevering until it comes to fruition? One of the most common goals has been for personal, often excessive, wealth. One might ask if individuals accumulating millions or billions of dollars has benefits for society as a whole, or has their focus on their goals allowed them to overcome obstacles that prevent average people from becoming uberwealthy like laws, morals, a conscience and the Golden Rule?
There’s power in numbers and belief systems are a prime example. With enough people believing without skepticism, doubt or common sense in some cases, here are some examples of what’s been made “real” through belief.
WAR – The belief that your country, system and citizens are superior gives the imagined right to force your beliefs upon another country or culture, relieve them of their resources and rain down destruction upon them. If they resist, you believe you have the right (and duty if you’re in uniform) to smote your enemy. There needn’t be a direct threat to you and your loved ones. You simply need to believe your way of life (“your freedoms” in Bush Talk) has somehow been threatened by your enemy to alter or disable your conscience enough to pull the triggers, fly the drones and drop the bombs. But there are a couple of other components that are necessary to allow true savagery to be unleashed. One is the need to separate us from them by portraying the enemy as something less than human.
RACISM – Believing you are superior to another culture, religion or race of humans allows unspeakable acts of depravity to continue and is nearly always a component of war. It’s more comfortable to savage people who can be mass tagged with derogatory terms to rally around. For the WWII it was principally the Krauts and Nips. For VietNam is was Gooks, Dinks and Slopes. Now its the Ragheads, Carpet Riders, Dune Coons and Sand Niggers. My parents were well educated, upper middle class WASPS. As WASP children we heard terms like nigger, wop, dago, kike and polock in our home and tight, white social circle. My parents were neither evil nor ignorant. They were programmed from birth to believe they were superior to others.
RELIGION – There are thousands of Christian sects today, most believing they are right and the others somehow flawed. Incredibly, they all wave the same book overhead, which very few have read in it’s entirety, as proof. This is a book that has been translated, revised, manipulated and interpreted countless times. A book that has no viable “original edition.” It has been a key component for the horrors of the Inquisition, the Crusades, Canada’s residential schools and many wars and genocides. It’s interesting that the blame for the Holocaust has been laid at the feet of “the Nazis.” In the 1930‘s, Germany had a population of 60 million….40 million Protestants and 20 million Catholics… a Christian nation by any measure. How could they have killed 6 million Jews as practicing Christians? Did they find enough antisemitism in their Bible or fervent national pride to negate their belief in the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule? It’s not just the Christians. Shiite and Sunni Muslims appear to be at one another’s throats and there are many more examples. Beliefs that are based entirely on faith are powerful as they can’t be disproven. Some of the mainstream churches still hold dear to mysogynist, archaic rituals and hierarchies, maintaining their influence with self proclaimed, god granted power and threats of eternal damnation for non-believers.
FIAT CURRENCY – There are still millions upon millions of people who believe the Federal Reserve in the U.S. and the Bank of Canada are government agencies thanks to their deceptive names, when they are really consortiums of private banking systems and families. The value of fiat money, which is virtually all paper currency, is based entirely on the commonly held belief that it has value. Not only does it have no intrinsic value, it’s based on debt in amounts that are incomprehensible. The U.S. debt clock presently reads over $17 Trillion. Canadians can wipe that smile off their faces with $682 Billion on their ever increasing debt clock. Since 1974 when the Canadian government began to borrow all of their shortfalls from the private sector, it’s estimated that over a trillion dollars in interest only have been paid by taxpayers to private banks. The history of fiat money has been one of successive failure. In fact, EVERY fiat currency since the Romans first began the practice in the first century has ended in devaluation and eventual collapse, of not only the currency, but of the economy that housed the fiat currency as well. Since the inception of the Federal Reserve the U.S. dollar has lost over 90% of it’s value and continues to do so as the printing presses roll on. A few U.S. presidents did attempt to remedy this travesty by using sovereign currency, amongst them, Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy. (bang bang)
THE MONARCHY – Here in Canada her title remains: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. Every title of the numerous claims include “by the Grace of God”, the ever popular and effective collusion between church and state. But she isn’t just a figurehead. She is also fabulously wealthy by lineage. She is, in fact, the world’s wealthiest monarch. Net worth: £ 60 Billion Plus Her budget to maintain her holdings plus a staff of 436 was $51 million in 2012. Over $560,000 was spent on Prince Willy and Kate’s tour for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and so far, $1.7 million to re-furbish Apt. 1A in the 300 year old Kensington Palace, their future home… well, one of their homes. There are many that consider her husband, Prince Phillip, a buffoon. But a blue blooded buffoon that claims the following titles (many of them Extraordinary to match his persona) His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Member of the Order of Merit, Companion of the Order of Australia, Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand, Extra Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu, Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada, Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Canadian Forces Decoration, Lord of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, Privy Councillor of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom How has this pompous nonsense continued to this day? Because enough of us believe it to be true.
AFFLUENZA AND THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENT – It’s becoming more obvious that the solution to many of the world’s economic and ecological problems is a sharp decrease in lifestyle, principally in Western cultures. But you’re not going to hear this from many, if any, political candidates. Why on earth would we want our comfortable, relatively lavish lifestyles to change, other than for the better? Many of the upcoming generation have lifestyle expectations that their parents didn’t have at their ages. Are they just spoiled brats? Nope. They learned this from their parents, many of whom have showered their children with unnecessary luxuries and unrealistic expectations. The taste of failure has become a thing of the past for most children of today. Leaving the nest isn’t off to a crummy basement suite with an entry level job. Many feel entitled to a quality education and the resulting high paying and personally satisfying career, a nice house, a vehicle (and not some beater), regular vacations, an early pension, stores full of cool things to buy (with shopping now another form of entertainment), and the obligatory smart phone, high speed internet connection, big screen t.v. and more… much more. Fading quickly is any appreciation for stores filled to the brim with everything from the latest technology to apples from New Zealand. Long gone is any thankfulness for a warm, dry place to live, unlimited clean water for drinking and bathing, and an uninterrupted supply of affordable electricity. Things that become expected have diminished values.
“THE GOVERNMENT” – Legions of unhappy citizens still believe their party will fix all problems after the next election, allowing the corporations that are “the government” to run amok in the meantime. There are just over 500 elected politicians in Washington and and estimated 14,000 lobbyists, many with huge financial backing and influence. As the self-proclaimed greatest country on Earth, it’s shocking to see the candidates that have been dredged up for presidential elections over the years. Are John McCain and Sarah Palin the best and brightest this country has to offer it’s citizens? After all the unkept promises (aka outright lies) year after year, how can so many voters maintain their belief in this corrupt system?
We are living in extraordinary times. There have been more changes that have affected the entire planet in the past 150 years than there has been in all of human history, many of them technological. And they continue, but faster, bigger and more dramatic than previously. Remarkably void of any significant change are the areas mentioned above. They remain alive and well thanks to widespread belief and acceptance.
Many of us can feel the tingle of change in the air and wait anxiously for the change to come. Will it be a huge comet? A massive sunspot? Widespread economic collapse? Another World War? How about a pandemic? The Rapture or Second Coming? Some say it’s Fukushima. Maybe the change we’re waiting for has been waiting for us. Maybe we’re the change. What we collectively believe is what we create and maintain as Reality. When we no longer believe in something, that Reality is either gone or dramatically changed…. just like Santa and the Tooth Fairy.