A Change is Gonna Come

The workings of the human mind fascinate me.

Take the concept of belief, for instance. Belief is the acceptance that something is true or exists. A human being can convince him or herself just about anything is OK, whether there are facts backing it up or not. Some beliefs are socially acceptable, such as it is not polite to pick your nose then eat it. Others are not.

from LinkedIn.com
from LinkedIn.com

Beliefs are not necessarily real. They are just things we’ve convinced ourselves are so. Farting is considered impolite in public, but believing that doesn’t stop you from letting one go when you can’t hold it in any longer.

A belief system is a set of beliefs. It’s the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of ourselves and the world around us. Like those that believe that the world was created in 6 days and is 6000 years old, even though practically every scientist who studies that kind of thing say the earth is over 4 billion years old. These “young earth” believers are undaunted, and point to the Bible as the basis for their beliefs.

Once we have our belief system in place, we then proceed to try to convince others to believe as we do. That’s how societal norms are established. It’s how many laws are changed. For instance, people in this country once believed it was OK to deny homosexuals the right to marry. They used passages in the Bible to support their stance, and convinced others to, if not stand with them, at least not stand against them.

But some people believed that to deny homosexuals the right to marry was discrimination, and they began raising their voices. As time went on, these voices convinced others to change their minds about the issue. This led to a Supreme Court ruling that says homosexual persons may now marry anywhere in the country. While we still have those that are fighting to overturn that ruling, most of us now hold the belief that to deny gay marriage is discriminatory, and see those holdouts as bigots.

From "The Partially Examined Life"
From “The Partially Examined Life

To change the belief system of a nation is not an easy task, but it requires those of us who seek to enact change to raise our voices and convince others that our beliefs hold validity.

It’s a daunting task to stand against stupidity. Hard to imagine we have people in this country who believe slavery is acceptable, such as the four men arrested in an FBI undercover sting operation after they attended a “slave auction” in Arizona and thought they’d purchased a kidnapped woman to be kept in slavery. One of the men had an underground dungeon set up to keep his slave captive.

Or there’s those who believe slavery wasn’t all that bad, like Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann, who signed a pledge saying that African Americans were better off during slavery because “A child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

cartoon by David Horsey of the LAtimes.com
cartoon by David Horsey of the LAtimes.com

And then we have those who believe those in our government are smart enough to stage a moon landing, keep the truth about JFK’s assassination secret, hide extra-terrestrials from us, and stage a school shooting to take away our guns.

Let’s face it, when one of the leading presidential candidates subscribes to the “young earth” belief, another is convinced abortion clinics are selling baby brains, and yet another dismisses gun violence as “stuff happens,” it doesn’t speak well of our society, does it? After all, these folks are still in the race because they’ve found a significant number of people who subscribe to their beliefs and will give them money.

But I’m not worried. I never thought I’d see gay marriage legal in my lifetime, but it is! And I know other changes will come along as well, as long as we keep speaking out about what we believe, and not what we’re paid to say.

More change is coming! Are you ready?


13 thoughts on “A Change is Gonna Come

  1. Very interesting article. To me it seems that belief systems are based a lot on discourse and power aswell. It is like a back and forth cycle like you illustrated. Discourse re-creates itself and so on. Getting out of the rut is hard but like you said it’s slowly happening.

  2. Years ago a friend and former roommate truly believed in the Christian Bible. He asked me to prove the theory of evolution was real and that radiocarbon dating was accurate. I asked him to prove otherwise; that is, beyond the Bible itself – what data did he have to verify? For example, I asked him to pinpoint where in the world the “Garden of Eden” was located? He kept tap-dancing around the issue and didn’t really answer any of my questions. He produced a news story he had written about a train striking a car in a small town in Northeast Texas several years earlier and told me the Bible was emblematic of that. I replied that I could verify that story because the town was real (even though I hadn’t heard of it before then) and could locate and talk to the witnesses if I wanted.

    I attended a parochial grade school and, when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, I asked one of the nuns where the dinosaurs fit into the biblical story of creationism. She just told me not to think about that. I had wondered about that, even as a kid, and now know for certain they don’t mesh. Yet, every time I’ve asked people to explain it, they tell me I just won’t understand because I don’t believe in the story of creationism. But, while there’s proof dinosaurs existed, there’s no proof the “Garden of Eden” did. Again, people tap-dance around the issue because they can’t explain it. Then, a few years ago, someone came up with the brilliant story that humans and dinosaurs coexisted.
    I’ve read more than a few news stories about social and religious conservatives who believe slavery in America wasn’t all that bad. I saw video footage of a Florida congressman speaking about the issue in a town hall-type setting where a young man described slavery as work for food and shelter. The congressman (who’s Black) couldn’t help but laugh, and the audience laughed with him. You might have heard of the Texas woman who raised hell when she learned that one of her son’s text books called slaves “workers” who were imported from Africa.

    Social conservatives have produced other moronic claims, such as Native Americans were more to blame for the near-demise of the buffalo in North America and that John and Robert Kennedy actually tried to squash the burgeoning civil rights movement.

    It’s easy to get upset at these idiots, but that’s how badly social conservatism in the U.S. had become ideologically twisted.

  3. But the really tough thing is that we all have blind spots. Progressives believe things without evidence just like conservatives do.

    I spend so much time doubting myself and wondering where my thought errors are that it’s hard to function sometimes.

  4. unfortunately, too many beliefs that people believe in are rumours that start on FB, Twitter and other media sites. in my opinion, people do not read or check facts before they start to believe something. yes, change is coming, and in my lifetime i have seen a lot of changes, some good, some bad. my Mother died 20 years ago, she had an old Apple computer which she just loved (pre internet), and i often imagine what fun she would have had with today’s modern technology.

    1. That last is a lovely thought! My mom died in 1997 and she would have been just thrilled with Google – she kept a world almanac beside the couch to look up anything she wanted to know more about. I bet our moms would have gotten along quite well!

  5. I wanted to let you know that I am SO proud of you for speaking your mind these days. I know it must have been a hard transition but you have some real brains behind your posts and I hope some internet power to go along with it. Can I steal one bit and use it on FB? It’s the beliefs aren’t necessarily real part – my friends are impressed by fart jokes, what can I say – especially intelligent fart jokes!

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