Saturday, August 21, 2010

In My Defense

My beliefs are just that, beliefs. I try to hold them lightly but when my beliefs get attacked I tend to clutch onto them as if they were a life-raft. In the heat of the discussion we forget that we are not the raft, we merely hang onto it. But why do we hold on so tightly? Will we sink if we let go? It's only recently that I fully understood why I took these attacks so personally: I associated an attack on my beliefs as an attack on me as a person. I felt as if they were attacking who I am instead what I believe.

But that's silly! How could any of us confuse who we are with what we believe? We are not a collection of beliefs and ideas, we're more than that. So much more. Yet we tenderly care for that which we are connected to, who we are connected to, and as seen in the news, places to which we share a strong connection. It is the relationship between people, places, and things which we seek to defend, not the things themselves. An idea, a belief, is what it is and doesn't need defending only understood. I'm not saying that beliefs are not worth defending but that we get so caught up in defending them that we forget who we are. Two people can debate and discuss different viewpoints without taking it too personally because they're not talking about each other (at least we hope) but sharing our innermost thoughts on a given subject. For example let's take the theology of Jesus' divinity. Two debaters, two human debaters I may add, can list why they believe or disbelieve in the divinity of Jesus. The believer can cite his/her reasons for believing in Jesus' divinity along with any evidence to support their conclusions. It is up to the disbeliever to understand the believer's position,what it means to them, and how it affects their relationship with other people. Yet relationship is not a one-way street so both camps must strive for the highest level of mutual understand of the other camp's position not in the spirit of convincing (let alone conversion) but to build relationships.

We talk, share, and discuss with one another because we're wildly social creatures! And if we truly want to strengthen and extend our relationships with one another we must guide our conversations in an open manner so that we can actually hear each other. We don't have to completely divorce our beliefs from our identity because they are a part of us, they are but one minute component in the complex organism which makes us human. We can no more understand how a clock works by studying one individual gear than we can sum up the makeup of our neighbor by a singular belief. Can a singular belief be foundational in shaping a person's character? Sure it can, but are they better or worse because of it? Does it guide them to compassion and love, or hatred and mistrust? You can't understand your neighbor with your bag of presumptions. Of course, these are just my beliefs.

7 comments:

Don said...

You make some very good points that I often forget.

Al said...

Sometimes the life raft we think we are holding on to is in reality a sinking ship...

captron52 said...

I do agree with you wholeheartedly my friend.I say I will not defend my beliefs to anyone yet there are tiems when I find myself doing just that.But you are very right and I know we can always learn form eachother. I think we are all teachers while at the same time students in the school of life. Keep up the good work you are doing my friend!

Doug B said...

Why do you feel a need to defend yourself this way? You have always come across to me as thoughtful and compassionate. But always bear in mind, some beliefs are so detrimental the only thing for reasonable people to do is to attack the unreasonableness and let the chips fall where they may. Of course being rude and arrogant doesn't help, but neither do I find the supposed graciousness of granting validity to the majority of viewpoints helpful. Besides, a person's beliefs are not their character, the sum total of their thinking processes is. At least that's what I believe. : )

Eruesso said...

@ Doug- To be perfectly honest I think it boils down to nervousness (I get nervous when I speak sometimes) and my inability to present what I believe intelligently to people who want a quick response. Which is why I enjoy conversing in the digital realm because it affords me the time to think before speaking, err...writing. And this usually happens around friends and family who don't agree with my position. I care too much about what they think about me and I take it personally sometimes. It's difficult at times being an outsider (especially in the Bible Belt), and worse as a new outsider. The transition into my current beliefs is very recent (last few years) and I'm still transitioning daily! But I'm young so I'm sure I'll learn the ropes before too long.

Sabio Lantz said...

If beliefs are mere clothing to hide our fleshy souls, we need more nudist parties!

Eruesso said...

Amen!

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