Believe it or not

Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders… But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
563 – 483 B.C.

Your beliefs have a significant impact on your view of the world and the way you see yourself fitting into that world. So from time to time, I think it’s important that we all take a look at our core beliefs and consider their origins.

My question to you is simple: are your beliefs based on your own observation, or do you simply accept ideas that others have passed on to you?

Galileo Galilei grew up believing the commonly accepted theory that the earth was the center of the universe. That belief had been passed on to him by his parents and teachers. Galileo has since been dubbed the “father of observational astronomy”. He’s probably best known for actually observing the solar system and then proclaiming that the earth was not the center of the universe — that, in fact, the earth revolved around the sun.

This conclusion was based on his observations. Although it wasn’t widely accepted by his contemporaries — he was tried by the Roman Inquisition in 1633 and found guilty of heresy — we all know that he was correct.

It seems strange that people once believed the earth was the center of the universe. But on further reflection, you might recall other theories that were widely believed but later proven false through observation; one that comes to mind immediately was the belief that the earth was flat.

My point is that we often blindly accept commonly held beliefs about how the world works and where we fit in society. I think we’d all be better off if we were a little slower to accept beliefs that are handed to us and put a little more effort into testing those ideas against on our own observations.

Most advances in civilization required someone like Galileo to disregard conventional wisdom and instead rely on their own observations to determine what was true. I’m not suggesting you try to become another Galileo. What I am suggesting is that you question your own core beliefs. Are they serving you well, or limiting you? Are you living life according to someone else’s ideas, or in alignment with your own observations?

Don’t let someone else dictate your core beliefs. You’ll lead a better, more satisfying life by being mindful of your convictions and their impact.

People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.
Will Rogers
1879 – 1935

Copyright © 2019 John Chancellor

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