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Saturday
Jun232012

Coexist 

We have all seen this bumper sticker, and We all wish people would really listen to it, but a few months back when I saw it... I got to thinking...


 

 

This Coexist image shares an idea of working together with our Beliefs.  Essentially showing that although we are all different, together we make a something more than our separate parts... 

This got me to thinking about beliefs.  We each believe a million separate things on a day to day basis.  Now I’m not talking about large overarching beliefs, but the little ones that make us who we are.  Remember the definition of the word*:

be·lief /biˈlēf/

Noun:

  1. Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction*

*As per Google


 

As I sat and pondered this concept while driving with my kids to my parent’s house, I found myself tuning out the vocals styling’s of Phineas and Ferb and drifting off into La-La land.  I found myself thinking about a time, in each of our lives, when belief defined who we were on a much more basic level.  Children show us a lot about how a simple belief can bring people together and how they can drift us apart. 

For the purposes of illustration, let’s use a group of 6 year olds in an art class as an example (as they tend to share all their beliefs every chance they get)  

They all gather around the tables in the room with the art supplies in the center and within minutes we begin to hear arguments pop up all over, “Markers are the best.” or “Paint is awesome, it lets me get dirty.”  A collective groan comes over all adults in the room, as we know that this is not an argument that anyone can sway short of saying, “Everyone likes different things” or “just agree to disagree” which have little to no effect on small children. 

The spats begin to escalate.  We might begin to hear things like, “But Sarah took the blue marker and that is my favorite.” Or, “Yellow is a stupid color.  You don’t want to use that one.”  Idle chatter among 6 year olds, yes, but one that brings up interesting thoughts as far as beliefs. 

Favorite color is an extremely subjective concept, as there is no fact to prove that one color out shines another, it is just an opinion.  These kids, however, will most likely not agree with you on that point.  To them, their favorite color might be part of what defines them, part of what makes them who they are.  And the idea that what they “know” is true might not be true for everyone is a concept that they will most likely not come to terms with for many years.  (Hell, I know a lot of adults still struggling with the concept… lol) 

Now let’s say an argument about favorite color did break out and the whole room got involved.  You may see kids who normally don’t congregate, but who have the same favorite color start to band together.  These newly forged bonds may cause a group to work together to try convince the room that their color is the best.  If left alone long enough, without some kind of intervention, violence may even pop up.  Bring in a teacher, parent, or figure of authority, and all the kids will flock to them looking for confirmation of their beliefs.  At this point in my minds ramblings I began to think of myself as a teacher, and of how I would break up such an argument. 

I would decide to stop the fight.  I’d look at all the separate groups of children, each in their own “color” group, and ask them to bring all the art supplies to the table at the center of the room.  I’d proceed to separate all the supplies into color groups.  I'd go and retrieve as many Crayons, Markers, Paint, Pencils, Pastels, Charcoals, and light Gels as I could find; and spread them out into their separate color groups.  In total I'd hope to have about 50 different shades of each color. 

I'd pick a group at random from the crowd.  Let’s use “Blue” for the time being, although these actions would take place with each color.  I'd bring all the kids in the blue group over to their pile and ask them to find their “favorite shade of blue” and although some would choose the same item, most would chose different shades.  The children might then begin to snicker at each other the way they had the children in the other color groups. 

I'd speak to them about personal preference, and about how when all was said and done each of these shades was “Blue”.  I then went to the kids who had chosen a “Blue-Green” color and the kids of the “Green” group that had chosen a “Green-Blue” and asked the kids if these colors were really that different. 

In my mind’s eye and in my mental ramblings, it had seemed a wonderful way to convey a point.  In the months that followed, I have not been able to get this idea out of my head.

So here we come to the end of my mental rambling.  How can this idea of favorite colors tie into the idea of religious beliefs? Once again we turn to the definition:

re·li·gion/riˈlijən/
 

Noun:
  1. The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.*
  2. Details of belief as taught or discussed.*

*As per Google

 

So... "Details of belief as taught or discussed" and belief being, "Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction".  So basically, we are saying a belief is, "Details of something one accepts as true or real; as taught or discussed." In other words, just what we accept as true told to some else.  Kinda sounds like those favorite colors huh?

I find myself thinking about how religions beliefs and favorite colors and other such beliefs are treated differently in our society.  Why is it so much more important where we came from? Because it is a vital part of our identity; the same way favorite color is for those kids.  The kids have yet to go in search of ideas such as religious beliefs.  They are still getting to know the world around them; so this is a somewhat new decision for them, a new discovery, and it is vital to them that they defend it.

Adult humans are no different.  We get very defensive of our beliefs and as we form bigger, more complex ideas, we feels more defensive of the validity of those ideas.  We find others with similar thoughts and band together with them in order to justify our conclusions.  We feel threatened when someone else comes along to challenge them.  But they are really just ideas, personal truths, not absolutes.  We should really learn to accept others beliefs and live in tandem with them.  The same way we all learned to accept the color choice of another all those many years ago.

 

So in closing I leave you with two questions... What is your Favorite color? and, What beliefs do you hold?

 

Check out this great Religious Comparison Chart

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