It was Mark Twain who said, "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination."
It's true, I think.
In the last 24 hours, I've gotten emails and phone calls and comments over the last blog. I'm honestly a little amazed by the response. But above all the information and opinions I've taken in over the last day, I'm struck by one thing: it seems most people's beliefs are so curbed - so bridled - by what they've been told. They're bridled by the ramblings of a fifth grade Sunday School teacher. Or hearsay they've borrowed from an old book... or pastor... or old boyfriend. And still others are relying on regurgitated philosophies from elderly college professors and parents. These people are wielding their beliefs like borrowed crutches - like hand-me-down props they pull out only when they're having a hard time standing on their own.
I'm shocked. I'm shocked at the number of grown adults who don't know what they believe. Who lean on passed-down ideals. Gosh, you might as well be a horse on a bridle, because when you depend on the knowledge (or lack of) of others, then their ideas and opinions - well, they're steering you, honey. And the sad thing is you can't even turn around and see what you've allowed yourself to be saddled with.
Seriously. Beliefs - spiritual or political - are not inherited. They're not bequeathed. You're not a Baptist because your parents were. Somewhere along the way you kept going to that church, too. Do you know why? And you don't vote Democrat because your grandmother loved Lyndon Johnson and believed Republicans would steal her social security and then beat her with a rubber hose. No, you chose which candidate you liked. Do you know why? There are two kinds of beliefs, I think: the ones you should hold and the ones you were sold.
The Bible has a few cents worth, too. Proverbs 14:15 says that "a simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps". I didn't say that, the Bible did.
Point is, I don't care what your folks believe. I don't care why your grandma brainwashed you into voting for Democrats. I don't care if you agree with me or argue with me until we're both blue in the face. (I welcome the debate, by the way!) I do care, however, that you show up with some beliefs you can proudly call your own.
So please, next time you email me comments, tell me what YOU think. Let Nana and your fifth grade teacher and your creepy ex-boyfriend speak their beliefs for themselves.
Besides, if you don’t believe for yourself, who will?