Wednesday, July 27, 2016

We All Believe Something

Faith: complete trust or confidence in someone or something (according to Webster's) or "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (according to the bible). The bible's definition seems to describe what's going on mentally a bit more precisely. Faith is another way of saying "this is what I believe (and hope is true) despite lacking actual evidence. 

The current presidential race has become so tumultuous because we have so many people with belief systems that are in varying degrees of polarization to each other. When I say "belief system" I'm not necessarily referring to religion. A belief system is what you think should happen in a given situation. Listen to the things you instinctively say should or shouldn't be throughout any given day. However, just because you believe something doesn't mean you always follow it. There is also a hierarchy to the system where in the core belief is usually predicated on whatever the individual perceives as best for self preservation. Survival instinct doesn't necessarily even mean prolonging existence on this planet but could be "self sacrificing" like a martyr giving their life because they believe it will help them in the next go around. 

Belief is the filter our sense perceptions are processed through informing, and to a large extent, creating our realities. People on every side of the political spectrum are regurgitating rhetoric that, more often than not, has not been vetted personally in any way other than "it was on the news" or "I heard someone say...". I'm never arguing for conspiracy theories but at the same time, I think it's just as ignorant to believe things you have never proven for yourself. That's what religions rely on to sustain momentum - people believing in things that cannot be proven. 

We sit around calling America the greatest country because it's what we want to believe about ourselves. Is democracy a great idea? Sure. But how do you know your system is working and trustworthy? I've had people railing at me how "I shouldn't waste my vote" because they blindly assume their vote actually counts. Things like the Electoral College aside, only an ostrich with their head in the sand would say "I know for a fact that my vote is being counted truthfully" without understanding and checking how the process works for themselves. While the first night of the DNC was playing in the background, I watched a documentary called Hacking Democracy (available online for free). I'm no expert on electronic voting / counting machines but I can say quite positively that there is no such thing as a completely secure system. Does the "evidence" set forth in the documentary prove that elections are easily manipulated? It would appear that way but choosing to believe it without testing it yourself is still belief based off data you have already gathered about life. 

After the emails from the DNC were leaked showing intent to manipulate against Bernie Sanders a friend said "did you hear that it's probably the Russians who did the hacking because Trump is buddies with Putin?" When I countered with "and? Hillary could have been behind the plot to inhibit her opponent" their response came so fast I could barely finish speaking - "no, c'mon. There is no way she was involved". I don't know what the truth is but one is just as plausible as the other and to boldly deny such is a huge statement - I only believe what fits in my system. 

For a while I've felt like the guy hanging out with Mr. Jones "I don't believe in anything...I just want to be someone who believes..." Not adhering to what other people believe is threatening to them and consequently can be rather exhausting.  I'd love to believe in something because it would make life much simpler - you get in a groove and go. Living a life without a groove is like scratching the needle across the record - no one really likes it much. The only things I can believe in is this: Being. I'm here. My existence is incontrovertible (to me anyway) and therefore the only thing I can prove moment by moment. As much as we believe the sun will rise tomorrow, the seasons will happen at such and such a time, etc, everything is always subject to change at a moments notice. 

When you look at the scale of humans vs the earth - earth vs universe, we are incredibly small and insignificant. Our knowledge is paltry and for all we know the earth I like a giant dog with fleas. One day when the fleas get too annoying, she will sit up and scratch a good bit of them off. Who really knows? Keep on believing whatever you like but just know that that is all it is - a belief with very little hard evidence. Trusting a political system is no different from religions commanding you believe in some dude in the sky while telling you that everyone else's dude in the sky is fake (or a demon). 

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