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Believe you me or cry trying

Belief is a powerful thing, though slightly less powerful than a mid-ocean oil pipe, apparently. Belief has driven humans out of the cave, across the sea, and into theaters showing Nicholas Cage films. But while you may be powerfully motivated by your own beliefs, you also happen to be powerfully motivated against those of others. Why?

Here’s a little thought experiment. What if you saw your neighbor one day carry their dog outside, bend it over their knee, and then beat it with a belt while crying, “This hurts me more than it does you!” Now, before you could call the ASPCA your spouse would likely be calling the local institution, but that’s beside the point. You’d be disturbed by such behavior. Yet, many of us stand by the principle that receiving spankings from parents made us into the well conditioned people we are today. Why would a pet be any different?

The argument that most readily springs to mind is that a dog, cat, or parakeet doesn’t understand, nor require, the extent of punishment that a child does. A firm word to a dog triggers its natural pack mentality and it abides by your wishes. A child, on the other hand, possesses free will to behave in complete opposition to the alpha male of the pack. Firmer steps must be taken.

This scenario supposes several “beliefs.” First, that you believe in spanking of children as an appropriate child rearing technique. Second, that you believe animals don’t have internal thoughts above instinct. Or maybe you disagree with one of the above, or both? I suggest you pose this question to family and friends and then watch the sparks fly. You’ll note some differences in belief.

It really bothers people when you don’t believe in things they do. For example, I don’t particularly believer in feng shui, and that will surely annoy some readers of this. I do believe in God, and that will also annoy some people. Others might be polytheistic and believe in interior decorating using gods. The point is: pursue any belief system long enough and you’ll find someone offended by it.

A good way to discover someone’s beliefs is to mess around in their office. Go move a stapler. If a couple hours later you find they’ve hanged themselves, well, the experiment was a success. You know they believed very deeply in feng shui, or their OCD, or something else crazy. Probably better not tell anyone else about the experiment, though.

All of this is to say that belief motivates us to do crazy things, and even the most rational of us hold our own irrational beliefs. What are some of yours?