“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha
I love this quote. I try very hard to live by it – always trying to judge and weigh things before accepting them. I’m not universally successful, of course, but I do try.
So much of the world is propaganda, whether maliciously intended or not. Buy this, love that, believe him, hate her – instructions on how to be “right”, how to behave acceptably and earn your place in our society. Nowhere is it encouraged to find your own answers, to look beyond the surface to what’s real and true – but it’s a vital skill, something to be cultivated and encouraged. We cannot believe things simply because our parents believed, because information changes. Scientific proof changes and evolves as we innovate and explore, and these are all boons to our species.
So why do we cling to things we can easily disprove? There’s a comfort there, a familiarity that makes us feel safe. Questioning our faith, our facts, the entire world around us makes us also question who we are in relation to that world, and that’s terrifying. What if I’ve been doing it wrong? The world is scary enough when navigating with those touchstones of “fact” – if they’re wrong, we’ll be left wandering helplessly.
Not entirely so, though. The human race is entirely capable of adapting, of banding together for the greater good. We are ingenious when it comes to solving problems and creating new ways of doing things, though we rarely stop quibbling long enough to put things into effect. Our sense of community is vastly diminished, so we look out for only ourselves and sometimes those immediately relevant to us and ostracize those whose beliefs differ from our own. This hurts us more than we realize, because peaceful conflict of opinions breeds innovation and introspection. We discover more when we see things differently.
It’s so incredibly important for us to find our own truths. We make the world a more vibrant place when we can confidently present ourselves honestly, with what rings truest to us as individuals. To be able to be truthful without fear makes us open to hearing truth from others, and accepting different beliefs as valid even when they conflict with our own keeps the conversation flowing in the right direction.
Truth doesn’t need to persecute others to be true. It doesn’t need to judge, to suppress, to vilify. It only needs to exist.