Our Beliefs and the Outside World

It is human nature, we think in terms of what we are exposed to or what are familiar with in our own surroundings. Our thinking and the way we behave is greatly influenced by how we grew up – how we were raised since early childhood.

The childhood is when most of our beliefs are formed, when we watch others and try to figure out what is the accepted norm – what is right and what is wrong. As we watch the world around us day after day, our beliefs firm up over time. We start to make our own mind and our own opinion about everything around us.

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” said Albert Einstein. By the time we enter our adulthood, we already have our own beliefs about the world around us.

Just think about it:

  • Our political and social views are always influenced by the community we live in and by our own social circle. Don’t confuse this with your Face Book or Twitter network – there is a real world out there;  just look outside the window. 🙂
  • We almost always follow the same religion as our parents; our religious beliefs are greatly influenced by our family and the religious preaching while growing up.

Our thinking and our beliefs are the creations of our society. Our social life and culture that we grow-up in is the starting point for our beliefs and our vision. Over the years, as we get fully emerged in our culture and society, our beliefs grow so strong that we may stop questioning them altogether. They become our way of life, the way of our thinking, a part of our perceptions.

However, the problem with our beliefs is that they may be wrong; we may have been ill informed or we just don’t have all the facts to begin with. This is especially true for our conceptions about social life and different cultures – home and abroad.

Our mainstream thinking, just like any other society, is heavily affected by our own life style. No doubt, many of our social beliefs are commonsense and are undisputed by the society. However, there are some other beliefs that many may consider them to be unfounded or false or myths or superstitions….; but we still believe in them, to some extent. Because, that is how we were raised; that is what we have always ‘believed’!

The reality is, just because we believe in something, does not mean it is true. In particular, our beliefs and perceptions about other cultures and other religions are often biased. This may be a common side-effect of a culture (and a religion) trying to protect itself, trying to prove itself superior. Our beliefs are always biased when we compare our own way of life to that of others. We always come out better or superior, in our own mind.

And if we travel abroad – to another country far away, we realize that many of our beliefs about other cultures and other people may not be entirely true; some of them are just misconceptions due to misinformation.

Everyone has their own notions and assumptions about other cultures. Americans and people from other western countries have their own beliefs – some of them misconceptions – about people from India or China. Likewise, Indians have their own notions about Western and American cultures, many of them not entirely true.

It is human nature, we think in terms of what we are exposed to. Our beliefs are always influenced by our own upbringing, our own culture. Everything is relative – to our own surrounds and norms. What we believe within our own culture may not be always true – especially when it comes to other cultures and countries.

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