Knowing What to Believe

posted in: Actions, The Artist's Life | 0
Are you reaching through the barrage of what everyone tells you? My collage and drawing uses current political ads for the U.S. “mid-term elections” and pieces of my blog illustration from February, “Truth or Lie and Vice Versa”. May we all keep reaching with faith we will find the way forward.

Many of us get overwhelmed with the issues and, especially in this U.S. “midterm election” season, find it hard to cope with the barrage of political campaigns. Some just take short cuts instead of thinking about everything; just follow their gut which is influenced by whoever shouts the loudest.

How do I know what to believe? Here is a sketch of factors that have helped me to try and be authentic. This is not a comprehensive discussion, but maybe it will help you think through some things too.

For me, usually, choices are a combination of intellectual and spiritual growth through
learning, honesty, and Love

Learning – being open to receive new knowledge

These days it is possible to get a broader range of information than ever before. That in itself can be daunting, but we don’t have to settle for whatever the Internet tells us. Wisdom tells us that everyone tries to appear as the Truth, but many promote unfounded fantasies. A healthy bit of skepticism will make you demand real, corroborated evidence for claims, and from more than two or three sources. Examining with a critical eye the way claims are expressed can help us sense right and wrong. Who would benefit by their preference and who would be deprived by it?

Real science comes from real sources, collaborative groups rather than individuals, with a long history of time-tested work. If an individual claims “science”, make them show real data. Are they accepted members of the global community of other scientists, or claiming truth because they are “mavericks”, “underdogs”, or “prophets”? Do they present results from rigorous scientific studies, or from divine revelation? Hey, I believe in divine revelation, but it does not consist of a bunch of people competing for notoriety by one-upmanship of claims as “the Word of God”.  Emotionally charged preaching, biblical sounds, and volatile words can fit our theatrical concept of divine inspiration but often deny and conflict with actual facts, promising unlikely utopian futures for loyal followers and hell for everyone else.

Fact check your “prophet” and discern their real motivation.

Self-knowledge

Establish the anchor of your personal identity in [God]. I put that word in brackets because That Which Is Above All appears different to various people, and we call it various words. The point is our self-identity is better placed in this Source than in our peers, class, job, party, religion, or ideology. Some feel [God] is too high to be relevant to nitty-gritty life but I have found the spiritual connection to give me courage and wisdom in decision making. No one can tell you who you are; you can and must discover that for yourself. From this basis more authentic choices are made.

Your True Self nurtures your life. Meditate on that until you start getting the “heart impulse” that is authentically aligned with your growing intellectual knowledge. “Heart” and “head” are not separate and independent, but are aspects of your whole, integrated self.

Honesty Over Fear

Let’s not cover our eyes and ears for fear of finding that our preference is not the “best” way. I’ve recommended many times that we can calm our heart through contemplative practices. (See a fuller description HERE.)

Gain Trust in the Truth that is Higher than …

Truth that is Higher than “The News” – I remind myself that a news program or video is from people similar to me who choose what they consider important to report. Some select “news” to promote their exclusive agendas, which may be no more than to keep you engaged in their commercial goals. How much of what they say is actual, and how much someone’s interpretation? “The News” is a variant of the entertainment industry. That said, there are important things to be aware of in the world and there are some news organizations trying to be ethical and truthful in informing us. Again, know the difference between the two kinds of news sources and compare sources.

I control the flood of info into my attention. I have to work at limiting what pops up on my screens demanding I take action on their campaigns, issues and products. Concentrate, my friend! Use the various tricks and mechanisms available to keep you in control of your e-mail, social media, texts, phone calls, etc. and don’t let them pull you down their rabbit hole.

Truth that is Higher than personalities promoting themselves – I ask why this personality is promoting themselves. Do they have pure motives of service to the world, or are they just building a personal empire? A tell-tale sign they are in it for themselves is the proportion of energy they expend justifying their deeds and bad-mouthing their opponents. To spend most of one’s energy and resources on such negativity disintegrates society. Are they trying to work with others to find a combination that is helpful to the common good or is their only focus just to win? Where do they stand concerning the use of brute force to make their preferences rule?

I frequently have to remind myself that the “others” are as human as I am, each with their variant of my range of concerns, circumstances, fears, and needs. Let’s acknowledge we are as flawed and incomplete as others, that each of us is one member of the Whole.

Love Is My Bottom Line

Ultimately, my decision has to be made based on insights as to whether the result would be loving or not.
Love heals, reconciles, makes peace, and causes the most fulfillment in life for the most people.
It engenders acceptance, affirmation and the flow of resources to all, not just to a certain kind of person.
For those who commit offenses to society Love works for restitution and restoration.
The grace of this Love forgives while defending victims.
It stands in solidarity with the oppressed
and softens the heart of the privileged to creatively counteract oppression.
In word and deed Love creates rather than destroys,
nurtures rather than abuses,
provides rather than hoards.
Love creates freedom because we each give for the common good
and receive the benefits of the common good.

These are the signs I look for in political candidates, campaigns on issues and public services. The more informed I am and more honest I am about candidates and issues, the better I know whether Love is guiding.

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