Beliefs leading to one’s behaviour
In the background of the tragedy of ‘Amanat’, we are right in demanding tougher laws, effective justice and fair treatment of the victims. They are not enough. We also need to examine the beliefs that have gotten us here, drawing from the reflections of Neale Donald Walsch, the author of the famous series Conversations with God.
He begins by asking: How has it come to pass that we have created a society, to begin with, in which depiction of rampant and vivid violence and vulgarity in all of our “entertainments” has been deemed perfectly acceptable?
Then, he continues: How has it come to pass that we have shunted aside our mentally disabled, miserably poor people — millions of them — to fend for themselves? How is it that we have created an entire world that is so violent on so many levels?
He implies that unconsciously and collectively we are creating an “emotionally violent, verbally violent, physically violent, and yes, even spiritually violent” society. The terrible and violent incidents are the result of our collective beliefs; the “chief among these is our belief in separation.”
First, we believe that we are separate from god (if we believe in god at all). Our deity, we are told, separated us from Him when the world was created, because of the unworthiness of our species.
Second, we believe we are separate from each other. To use a more polite word, we say we are individuals. And our individual rights have become paramount. So we hold to the “All for one and one for all” belief which has “become embarrassingly anachronistic, incredibly naïve, foolishly simplistic, and, for many, actually undesirable as a way of living.”
Third, we believe we are separate from life itself. We are separate from the earth (it is ours merely to use) and we are separate from all other animals and creatures (they, too, are ours to use as we see fit).
It is no wonder that the various systems and structures emerging from these lop-sided and false beliefs are not working! Not our political systems, not our economic systems, not our ecological systems, not our educational systems, not our social systems, not our legal system and not even our spiritual or religious systems.
The answer lies, according to Walsch writing in The Huffington Post, in understanding “the true nature of life, the true nature of God, and our own true nature.” Then we will change our beliefs, fostering closer bond with god and with each other.
According to the author, “the idea of humanity’s oneness, implemented, would go far toward creating stability throughout human society, eliminating for many the feelings of isolation and desperation” that generate the kind of anger that gives rise to violence. We need to rediscover the belief, taught to us from early childhood, in the oneness of all of humanity with others and with god. Then we will do much more to care of the poor and marginalised. Then the depiction of ugly, vivid, utterly desensitising and gratuitous violence in our entertainments would not even be thought of.
Walsh asks a pointed question: “Must we use only unspeakable sadness or shivering fear as our chief motivation for expressing our oneness and unity with each other?” His suggestion has wider consequences: “Rather than cling to beliefs that are not working, would it not be much better to cling to each other?”
Obviously, we need sound laws and legal system to protect ourselves. But they are only part of the solution. In general, we need to change the collective beliefs reaffirm our fundamental connection to each other: a religious task! Thus we make sure that we remain connected to ‘Amanat.’
(The writer is a professor of science and religion)