“When it comes to controlling human beings, there is no better instrument than lies. Because, you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts.”
Michael Ende (The Never Ending Story)
Every world religion has a framework of beliefs that adherents must cherish if they are to be accepted into the fold. Add to religion, or lack thereof, the many other frameworks—nationality, culture, gender, education, family, class, race, politics—and you have the boundaries of almost any human being. We define ourselves by the beliefs we hold in these areas of life, and we staunchly defend them in order to feel secure that we know who we are. Our beliefs form the scaffolding by which we identify ourselves. Over the centuries, many people have come and gone who discovered that human beings are easy to manipulate if you know which beliefs they hold dear. Some of those people have added to the collective wisdom of the masses, and some have used deceit and brutality to move them in directions of their choosing. Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. qualify as the former, and Hitler, Stalin, and Papa Doc Duvalier as the later. Of course, there are many others—sometimes within small communities, and even within families.
Conflict is a not a strictly human trait—animals tend to settle their differences by competition, too. Last night I watched a PBS series about elephants; the males clash on a “massive” scale for the right to mate. The driving force within most animal populations is procreation; a natural instinct, and not a belief system. We humans are the only ones who make it up as we go along and then fight one another over our perceived differences. We seem to have settled the procreation battle—everybody's free to do that, but we invented something else to fill that void—our beliefs.
Long story short here is to work our way toward freedom of belief. As humans, we're going to create these infrastructures to define ourselves, and we need to allow others to do the same. Becoming aware of our tendency to judge harshly those who do not believe what we do, is the basis for constant war and turmoil. It puts us at risk of being manipulated by slick operators who use lies and sleight of hand to control outcomes. Recognizing that all humans are equal regardless of their “beliefs” is a crucial step in the evolution of consciousness—and may be the determining factor in the survival of our species.
In the Spirit,