It doesn’t happen often that a song makes me rethink my beliefs, but when it comes to John Mayer, he can pretty much do anything with his music. His album Continuum is probably the best album that anyone has ever put together – alongside Leighton Meester’s Heartstrings – and his song Slow Dancing in a Burning Room is my favourite song of all time, but it’s his song Belief that actually inspired me to write this today. It was his song Belief that made me question some things.
The line in Belief that touched me the most and that always puts a knife in my heart because it’s so painfully true, he sings: »Belief is a beautiful armor but makes for the heaviest sword, like punching underwater, you never can hit who you’re trying for.«
Just listen to the song performed live. Beautiful.
As people we always fight beliefs and ideas that people have about how the world should be. We fight others because their beliefs are not the same as ours and we kill because we are convinced in our way of living. We protest and shout, shoot and punch, all because we want to change the world; because we want to fight the beliefs of others who are different from us.
That doesn’t mean that all beliefs are to be accepted and never questioned, as far as things go in my book, if your beliefs aren’t harming others, you can believe in whatever you want.
But that’s not how things are isn’t it? That’s not how the world works. Our beliefs have done more harm than good. Our beliefs have killed more people than saved.
So how can we save the world? How can we fight beliefs? In the words of John Mayer, we are never going to win the world, we are never going to stop the war, if belief is what we are fighting for.
I wish there would be an easy answer, or at least an answer that would be understood by most people, but there isn’t one. All we can do is not try to change other people’s beliefs, but live our truth.
The world was built on beliefs. Some beliefs are harmful and dangerous, others are innocent. Some beliefs need to be protected, others need to be rejected. How do we know which beliefs are which? Look in your heart. Look around. Look at which beliefs harm and which don’t.
- Believing that some people should be killed because they believe in something else is a harmful belief and should be rejected.
- Believing that one gender or race is less valuable than the other is a belief that is harmful and should be rejected.
- Believing in an invisible man in the sky and in the book that was written by primitive man is dangerous and should be rejected.
- Believing that one species of animals must dominate the other is dangerous and should be rejected.
What makes a belief dangerous and harmful? A belief should be rejected if it oppresses someone else, if it harms the other being, and most importantly, if that belief kills. The second someone dies because of a belief, it should be rejected.
Another thing that inspired this post is a video by someone whom I deeply admire and I think he is a genius, and that is Sam Harris. Sam is a philosopher, author of multiple books – his book Waking Up is one of my favourites, and a neuroscientist. He often debates religious people and talks about meditation and consciousness and the observer and all the things that I love.
Anyway, here is a video that talks about the dangers of religious beliefs.
I remember a few months ago, when I was passionately figuring out the best ways to change the world and how to make a huge difference in the world while living my short life, I heard one of my favourite animal advocates, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, talk about on her podcast Food For Thought, about how we should stop changing the world and change ourselves instead. Why? Because we ARE changing the world either way, we don’t have to do it. We already are doing it.
We are all working on the outside. We want to change the world yet we rarely change ourselves. Remember that famous quote by one of my favourite plant eaters Lev Tolstoy? He said that everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves. Truer words have never been spoken.
Yes, let’s debate and protest and physically stop if necessary. Yes, let’s change the world and make it a better place.
But let’s do it by changing ourselves first. Let’s fight beliefs by living according to our own way of compassion. Let’s stop fighting the war and instead bring peace to the world. Let’s stop protesting against slavery and let’s protest for equality. Stop using your voice to speak and instead do.
Let your life be an example.
Yes, beliefs are harmful and we can rarely change them, but if we want to take a shot at influencing those whose beliefs are harmful and dangerous, the best way to do it is through our own life. We can’t avoid beliefs in a world of ours, but we can change all our beliefs into one – compassion. Let that be your biggest belief that you live by.