Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nothing Personal

If you click on my name at the top of the left column, you will be magically transported to a page entitled, About Your Host. Though the date on this post indicates it was written in January 2005, that's not true. Blogger doesn't allow for static pages, so, when I created said entry 2 or 3 months ago, I backdated it in order that it wouldn't show up on the main page.

In paragraph #5, you will find the following sentence, "While I have no problems with other people's personal beliefs, the machine of institutional religion..." One of these days I'm going to have to rewrite that portion of the entry because, on further reflection, I realize that I actually do have problems with other people's personal beliefs, especially those that are religious, in nature.

Please don't misunderstand the thrust of what I'm writing. I'm not suggesting that everyone must believe as I do or that any person's perspective must be limited by an external source. What I am suggesting is that no ideation of belief is strictly personal. How each of us perceives the world permeates the way we relate to and with it.

For example, let's say Earl believes that women innately are inferior to men. Within his nuclear family, Earl treats his wife Debbie and daughter Trisha like indentured servants. He is disrespectful and condescending to the women he works with. He's altogether rude to waitresses and female clerks. Because he thinks his PERSONAL belief is true, he tells anybody who will listen that they should follow his lead in the way they conduct their life. Earl will also promote and support policies that legalize and legitimize the treatment of women as second class citizens.

As can be seen from this one example, one individual's personal beliefs impacts others. It impacts the people he comes in contact with each day and, more broadly, has the potential to impact millions of people he will never meet.

Even worse, when a individual's personal beliefs are strongly influenced by an external source -- the church -- then this dynamic is multiplied a millions times over and more. It quickly moves from the personal to the collective.

You see, this is the core of the problem with so-called personal beliefs. Because humans are social animals, our beliefs aren't confined solely to the space between our ears. They influence our actions, behaviors and decisions. Each of these things impacts other beings which causes a ripple effect throughout the entire universe.

The upshot of all this is that I need to be more honest with you and myself. I have a definite problem with people who believe there is one singular path in life. I have a definite problem with people who believe that Mother Earth exists for our pleasure only and that we bear no responsibility for her upkeep and health. And I have a major problem with people who believe in an imaginary being that has served as the impetus for much of the violence, strife, alienation and oppression that has plagued our world for centuries.

I do NOT hate such people, but I'm not overly enthralled with them either.


  1. Enjoying your blog. I think that as we grow older, it becomes more difficult to dissemble. We need to tell the truth. I often say that what I write about is my truth. My way of seeing things. It's not the only truth out there. It's not the best truth, but its a good one, worthy of consideration. If we all felt this way, we could learn so much from one another without getting nasty.

    Your "ignorance is bliss" post was particularly interesting. Who do we humans think we are? The be all and end all of the vast multiverse? What hubris!
    Write on!

  2. i have no problem with the personal beliefs of others, irritating and "wrong" as i might think they are, as long as they don't try to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

  3. Sure. The problem is that religion permeates every area of a person's life: entertainment, conversation topics, political tendencies, ideologies regarding the environment, stories they read and believe, who they marry, etc.

    It is very difficult to even be acquaintances with people who wear their religion on their sleeve and want others to do likewise.

  4. "I have a definite problem with people who believe that Mother Earth exists for our pleasure only and that we bear no responsibility for her upkeep and health."

    Forgive my un-sageness because I'm new to Taoism - but this seems un-Taoistic. It seems like your dislike of people like this (or people that follow organized religion) is defining good and evil, wrong and right, which I'm starting to let go of. Is this something you haven't let go of, or do you believe this is consistent with you philosophical Tao beliefs?

    (Full disclosure - I'm a Christian but very interested in everyone's point of view)

  5. TJ,

    A little of both. People who gleefully despoil the earth (or follow religion lock, stock and barrel) tend to create disharmony in this realm of existence.

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