I have decided to stop believing in things.
In the words of Chris Rock’s character Rufus, “I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier…” (Dogma 1999). I wish I could say that I don’t make a habit of taking advice about life from low-budget films, but that would apparently be a lie. Comedy usually makes a lot of sense to me, even if a lot of the time it comes out as anger. This is, admittedly, one of the stranger sources of inspiration that I’ve chosen to take to heart.
Rufus does, however, have a point. Beliefs can be problematic. They can be hard to change, even in the face of some solid evidence to the contrary.
Beliefs become part of you; they are a statement of allegiance, of purpose. People feel called to defend their beliefs, and think they are entitled to forcing their beliefs on others. They try to use their beliefs as factual evidence, as the foundation of an argument. Heck, people go to war over their beliefs.
Ideas are not quite so stringent. Ideas can be malleable. Having ideas is easy, and when confronted with new information it’s much easier to change your mind. After all, it was just an idea.
I’m not actually saying I think beliefs are bad, but I feel we’ve come to the point where people are more concerned with shoring up and defending their beliefs than anything else. We attach our beliefs to our political parties, to our friends, to every aspect of our lives. We are making a habit of not allowing new information, new ideas into our lives
I still believe in a lot of things. I believe it is never okay to take away someone else’s agency. I believe it is not my place to decide who lives or dies. I believe in people, individually and as a whole, that we have the capacity and the ability to always be better. I believe in myself, that I will make a life for myself that will be worth living.
I only think, however, that I will find someone that I want to marry. I think that I will be a great dad, if I have the chance, because I have a great example to follow. I think that our best shot as a species is to branch out into outer space. But I can’t hold these things as beliefs, or it will be much harder to find out that I am wrong.
I think we started adding belief to our ideas in an attempt to give them more weight, but all we have managed to do is polarize our opinions. I think we should use our belief sparingly, because otherwise it may start to mean nothing at all.