In my attendance at a Catholic grade school, I like other students in other elementary schools, were led to believe that our church and government were the best because they upheld virtues of honesty, truth, and integrity. The first big reconciliation of belief versus facts on the ground, was the parish’s long-standing pastor, eloping with the janitor’s wife, who was also employed as the cleaning lady. They departed for Florida and probably established themselves as upright citizens there. I was in eighth grade when that happened but felt as if I graduated to some quirky adult world that was markedly different than the idealizations I was being fed.
I, again with the vast majority of my peers, worshiped the belief that our government was not perfect but certainly not corrupt. This belief was roundly depleted when the substantive truth of Watergate came out and the President resigned due to recordings that spelled out the facts, beyond what I and many others may have believed about our government.
Institutional reconciliation with facts continued to occur when it finally came out that the Gulf Of Tonkin incident was essentially manufactured so that a justification for the Viet Nam War could be mustered while reality suggested no such justification except political preferences. Add the latest Iraq debacle. That war’s intention was finally vetted as ephemeral, when no weapons of mass destruction were substantiated. Beliefs are a tricky thing especially when the New York Times was complicit in it’s lack of journalism with respect to buying and presenting hyperbole suitable to the needs of that administration.
Chicago, is now in the headlines, not for the movie “Chiraq” which underscores the regularity of people getting shot and dying in the streets, but for the depressing leadership of local government to address systemic abuses of police to the population, particularly, the powerless. Mayor Rahm of the City of Chicago, did not want “Chiraq” used due to some belief that it may be incendiary. The title did more to underscore the denial than hop-up the population to some uncertain future fatality. The facts being that homicides are up with or without “Chiraq” and have been, unfortunately not slowing down, despite City Hall’s attempts to quash the pressure for change it feels from the citizens of Chicago. Beliefs are a powerful thing. Facts often conflict with hardened beliefs. Beliefs give politicians their power and reduce our own power, especially when the facts get trampled in the dust and ceremonial ashes.
Just like myself and my grade school buddies, we, and the awake citizens of “Chiraq”, started to come out of the funk and hypnotic trance of belief, and began to ask questions about what is really true. To nod our heads in some type of subservience to institutions, when the facts and videos were clearly absent by design, we threw ‘belief’ out the broken window of institutional integrity.
And if ‘belief’ never returns, it would be a good sign that things have really begun to change. ‘Belief’ has held us prisoner long enough to our own and others’ whims. “Belief is not reality!
Belief is a mental construct based on ideas that can never fully represent the reality we see. Ideas and beliefs are a clear subset of “What Is”. Their little box can never fathom any depth of reality, period. Their insufficiency must always be challenged. Allegiance to beliefs, especially in the violent world of today as well as world history, is allegiance to a sanitized unveiled ‘truth’ of lies that walks as fundamentalism. Fundamentalism, can be defined, at least by this author, as a staid, rigid set of rules that require reality to work around it rather than the other way around. It is an incarnation of ‘stuckness” and an inability to change with change, unlike the vastness and diversity that is our universe.
In terms of change, due to not tirelessly accepting the words of our paternalistic brethren, institutions of Church and State, are now more accountable. Priests and police are now not given the powers by the population they once had not so long ago. Feudalism had it’s day in the 16th century. Finally, can we move now past all that “lord and master” crap? Accountability and transparency are not just for the masses. Accountability and transparency must show up as large-scale change for all those in power. The “code of silence” for priest and police are unacceptable forms of resistance to change and transparency.
Belief is such a throw away term. There is no definitive unbiased practical test for belief. To a great degree we can say, and swear, and jump up and down, and say we believe what we say we believe. How many times in our own lives have we not prevailed when we asked others to believe in us? We often promise more than we can deliver because of what we believe about ourselves. Where is the substance in ‘belief’ when it is so unquantifiable because, it is just an idea that we resound around. Can an idea (or belief) get past the vagaries of the mind given the mind’s fickleness?
Ideas are part of the parade. They come and they go. The ‘zeitgeist’ is an example of trends hitting and moving on as noted in ‘eras’. Beliefs are no less stable. Galileo was a condemned man in the eyes of the Church because of his blasphemy of suggesting the counter-culture idea of the Earth not being the center of the universe. Whether it is a flat earth or global warming or sinning because we went shopping on Sunday, ideas and beliefs alone, are not the stability we are looking for in life. Capriciousness abounds as Santa, Bigfoot, and transparency in government are concerned.
John Gacy, mass-murderer in suburban Chicago, probably read and re-read the gospel “…for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…”. To believe that ‘believing’ is the only requirement to personal salvation is to still believe in the power of the tooth fairy. That is, superficial fairy tale making. Substantive change means re-tooling our root structures of whom we think we are and seeing whom we really are, through a much deeper and intensive introspection. When we cannot see what it is that is stopping us in our own tracks, then we have not dug deep enough into our own programming. To continue on with a lack of awareness and a bounty of belief, is delusion at it’s darkest.
Going beyond the staidness of belief is necessary to get to “direct knowl edge” or sometimes referred to “unacquired knowledge”. The letting go of a parochial way of how things ‘should’ be, to graduating to accepting “What Is”, is going for the ‘effortlessness’ because there is nothing and no idea to defend. Conceptual frameworks are sometimes useful but limiting. The limitation is that these frameworks are not reality. They estimate “What Is”, which is an insufficient subset at best. The ‘no-limitation’ of “What Is” cannot be thought and idea-based due to the insufficiency of the artificiality/limitation of idea/belief.
Our own illumination should not and really can not be a supplicant of belief. Transparency into our own belief systems and ideas is necessary, in order to transcend their limitation. Institutional obfuscation is deleterious to society’s health just as our own vigor is thwarted by the stopping point called belief.