The word “believe” is used in many different contexts: “I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth,” “I believe I’ll have another piece of pie,” “I believe in global warming,” “I believe that children are our future.” It is applied to religion, to personal opinion, to politics, to science. It means accepting something as true, whether it is provable or not. You can’t prove that God exists, you simply believe it – or not. In the fact of conflicting scientific information, you choose which evidence you believe. In the case of pure opinion, you analyze the evidence on your own and believe what you feel is right.
Sometimes, a belief is held so strongly that it holds firm even in the face of direct evidence to the contrary: “I don’t/won’t/can’t believe it!” There is no proof when it comes to beliefs; believing is simply what your mind – and your heart – has determined to be true. It’s difficult to fight your own deep-seated beliefs.
Lots of beliefs are controversial. Not everyone believes that God exists, or that vaccines are safe, or that abortion should be legal, or that Chris Rock is funny, or that Leonardo DiCaprio deserves an Oscar, or that Democrats are better than Republicans. Holding some of those beliefs – and expressing them publicly – can lead to arguments, hurt feelings, even bloodshed. But there are a lot of beliefs that would make the world a better place if more of us held them. What would the world be like if we could all believe the following?
I believe that everyone has a right to his or her opinion.
I believe that the world is a wonderful place.
I believe that we need to take care of each other and the world we live in.
I believe that children should be loved and nurtured.
I believe that art of every kind should be encouraged.
I believe that everyone has something to contribute.
I believe that life is a gift.