I believe I have the responsibility to use my brain to ground my moral principles. I believe in thinking through what I believe. I require values that are mine not purely because someone told me they should be, but values met through purposeful reason and deliberation. I seek values where I have come to the conclusion that this is what I want, no, what I need.
This odyssey began not long ago in a local coffee shop. At this time I had begun to doubt some of my most firmly held beliefs. Was there really a God out there? Am I truly that significant in an infinitely expanding universe? I sat down with one of my best friends. As we began to talk about my doubts she became a bit offended. So I asked her how she was always so sure about things that she could not see. She answered with a statement I will never forget. “I don’t have a reason, I just believe.” It was then that I knew I had to take a different path, certainly the one less traveled. I needed a reason to believe or at least something close.
Examining my beliefs started with simple questions in everyday situations. I asked questions like why I am buying this belt? What makes me want it? Would I wear it often? I began to learn more about myself and what makes me tick.
In trying to find reason for my moral values I have learned to slow down. Just the other day I was having difficulty focusing. There was an upcoming decision that had to be made. I did not know what to do. So I simply pushed aside my busy schedule and thought. I asked simple why, when, and where questions. I put my frustrations in writing. I prayed. After drawing on past experiences and pulling together my value system I came to my conclusion. Even though this choice was fairly trivial the decision required me to think and to reason. Every decision that forces me to do this assists me in strengthening my values.
Although inconsistencies abound and certainties are rare I believe I still must press on. To reason through my beliefs is a life-long exercise that requires the help of many companions. Some come naturally, like parents or caregivers, albeit their influence may be positive or negative. Many come without welcome like a zealous telemarketer on a Sunday afternoon. Yet others are like guides on a long quest, guides named book, pastor, teacher, and friend.
When I question my viewpoints, I refine them. Thinking requires me to move past my inadvertent racism, unfounded convictions, and unexplored philosophies. Although I can be near certain that I will never figure out all that life throws at me. I will go to my grave with a mind unwasted and unhampered by the atrophy of yes-man type complacency. I was given a mind and it would be treason unto myself if I chose not to use it.
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