Talking About Beliefs

Looks like I’d better start talking about beliefs because tomorrow I’ve been asked to give a 10 min talk on honoring and staying true to your beliefs. That’s kind of an interesting topic for me to consider because personally, I believe that beliefs are fluid. They are always evolving and changing with time and experience. What I believe today is different than what I believed yesterday, and what I believe tomorrow will be different than what I believe today.

Some of my favorite thoughts on beliefs include:

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.

~Bertrand Russell (British philosopher,ย logician, mathematician, historian, writer,ย social critic, political activist and Nobel laureate)

Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.

And of course, Morpheus is always profound:

In response to captain who said, “Not everyone believes what you believe”, Morpheus replies: “My beliefs do not require them to”

Your beliefs don’t make you a free thinker. Your ability to change your mind based on new information does.

Beliefs are interesting things. I can tell you what I believe and some of it may ring true to you and some of it may not. I may believe that BYU is the finest university with the finest collegiate teams. You, however, may believe that the U of U is. ย Who is right? Who is wrong?

Here’s the reality. I grew up a die hard Cougar fan. My father bled blue, and so did my entire family, until my dad became a professor at the U of U, my brother attended graduate school there, and the Huntsman U of U Hospital saved 3 of my family members from cancer. With time and experience, our die hard belief that that the Cougars are the bestย has changed. ย We now love the Utes just the same. Who changed?

So when it comes to beliefs, I don’t know that giving a talk telling you to “honor” or be “true” to your beliefs is really the most important message that can be given about beliefs because how do you know your belief is more valid than someone else’s? I think any worthy discussion on beliefs must begin at the beginning. One must ask, “How are beliefs born?” “What determines an individuals’ beliefs? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Beliefs are products of our nature, nurture, culture (societal, religious, familial), life experiences, geography, etc. ย Have you ever wondered how your beliefs would differ from what you hold to be true today had you been born in a remote village in Nepal, India? Would you be sitting in a Mormon Sacrament Meeting today? What if you had been born an Eskimo in Eastern Siberia? Would you believe seal blubber to be the finest delicacy on the planet and prefer the freezing cold to the infernal heat? Check out this image:

What do you see? Who is right? Who is wrong? Those who first saw the old lady, were you right? Now that you see the young lady are you wrong? Or are both of you now just “enlightened” because you all now see more. Beliefs really are lame to talk about since we don’t really see things as they are, we see them as we really are.

You see, I don’t see a whole lot of merit in discussing the importance of standing for and honoring your beliefs because frankly, I don’t think beliefs are what make people great. No, I believe that it is our behavior, not our beliefs, that make us great. And the greatest way to behave is in LOVE. Love is the sine qua non (sahy-nee kweyย non) or essential ingredient in greatness. Was it Martin Luther King’s belief in racial equality that made him great or was it the way he led the civil rights movement in love that inspired a nation to change? Would his “Dream” to “Let Freedom Ring” have inspired hearts had he bombed and blasted his way to greatness? No, Martin Luther King’s legacy lives on because he led in love. Gandhi was no different. His belief in a united, free India is not what made him great? No, it was his love for his fellow man. And what of Mother Teresa? Was it her belief in the Roman Catholic faith that made her great? And the way she defended those beliefs? Or was it her loving service that made her a literal saint?

Again I ask, what makes a man or woman great? Their beliefs or their behavior? Their religion or their love? Jesus, teaching on the shores of Galilee, said, “As I have loved you, love one another.” In the Sermon on the Mount, he proclaimed, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” And again, he spoke, “The first great commandment is to Love God with all thy heart, might, mind, and strength, and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (on these hang all the laws and the prophets)”. To which a lawyer responded, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by sharing the story of the Good Samaritan. He concluded by asking, “Who of these three was neighbor unto him who fell among thieves?” To which the lawyer responded, “He that shewed mercy on him.” Jesus responded, “Go and do thou likewise.” Isn’t it interesting that it was the Pharisees, lawyers and scribes beliefs that kept them from seeing God when he came in the flesh as their savior?” Brothers and Sisters, if we are not careful, our beliefs can likewise prevent us from seeing God in the flesh. Our brothers and sisters are all divine beings, offspring of the Most High. It isn’t our beliefs that matter. It is our love, for God is love, and are we not allย god’s in training?

May our beliefs lead us to greater love and I am now done talking about beliefs! You can read how well my talk was received here.