Some people don’t like to hear it, but all beliefs are relative. Religion, politics, sports teams. It doesn’t matter where you find the belief, it’s relative. The problem with the human mind is that it often forgets that beliefs are relative and, soon enough, takes its own value system as law. This is the beginning of righteousness, and that’s the beginning of trouble. People fight wars, discriminate against neighbors, and perform all manner of hate-crimes because they fail to remember that all beliefs are relative. They believe that their beliefs are the right ones, and anyone who feels different is certainly wrong.
Although it might seem harmless, forgetting that all beliefs are relative is the first steps towards a less intelligent life. Believing that you hold the right answers is just another way for you to believe that you don’t have to learn anything more. It seems that all over America, people are terrified to let the words ‘I don’t know’ slip from their mouths, as if admitting ignorance is such a huge crime or social faux pas. But it’s not, admitting that you don’t know if the first step in learning so that next time you find yourself in the same situation, you can honestly say, ‘I know.’ If you really want to learn, if you really want to grow as a person, then you’ve got to get comfortable embracing your ignorance. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. People who feign knowledge are, usually, scared. The space of not-knowing can be a frightening place to be, and it takes courage to admit ignorance. But trust me, it’s the first step to real knowing.
The relativity of beliefs is obvious enough when you travel. You get on a plane to cross the Pacific or the Atlantic or maybe just to cross our southern border. Whenever you land, you find yourself in a world that believes differently than you. What people call culture shock is nothing more than a serious case of belief clashes. Sure, in India, people eat with their hands, and that may be uncomfortable or strange to you, but it’s a belief that generates that behavior. Many Indians believe that food tastes better if it’s offered to the mouth by the bare hand. Obviously, this is a subjective belief, and because of that, we cannot say that it’s true or false for anyone other than ourselves.
With enough exposure to beliefs that are not native to your mind, you’ll soon realize this relativity for yourself, and that’s when you really gain a rare perspective in this world. For sure, it is sometimes tough because you’ll be surrounded by people who insist their beliefs are the ‘right’ ones and everyone who thinks differently is ‘wrong.’ But if you reach this point, you’ll have a greater freedom than you knew before, because once you realize that all beliefs are relative, soon after, you’re going to realize your capacity to pick and choose your beliefs. You’ll actually be able to choose the beliefs that best serve you and release those that aren’t in your best interests. For sure, it’s a brave new world, and it can be scary, but it’s so full of potential that you may soon be overwhelmed with positive opportunities.
Before I said travel was a good way to learn about belief relativity, and it’s true. It may be the easiest way, but it can also be one of the most difficult and extreme. Once you find yourself in mainland China where no one speaks English, it’s hard to get much done, belief or not. Other than travel, there are other ways for you to learn to see the relativity of your beliefs.