Everybody thinks they’re doing the right thing. Or they wouldn’t do it.
Not all the time, but when it comes to beliefs, we’re all choosing our beliefs by what we think and/or feel is right.
[Now, say that again without such lofty, unverifiable claims.]
Isn’t inherent in the nature of one’s beliefs that we form and choose them because we deem them to be good, right, fair, or true? I know…terms like true, fair, right, and good are all broad, subjective, and relative ideas that could mean something entirely different to someone else.
[So where does this leave us?]
Jonathan Haidt’s research shows that we don’t actually form our beliefs from logic or reason but by our emotions, our guts, if you will. Of course, right? Everyone seems to have trouble actually defining why murder is wrong; especially in different circumstances. So let’s just resolve that our morals are instinctive. Sort of universal but not entirely.
I’m tempted to trust love. You know, “love and do what thou whilst.” Golden Rule type stuff. Love that cares for the other. Love that looks to create win-wins. I guess I’m also looking at maturity too. Mature love, when a person’s self-love cup is full and runs over to those around. Not just looking out for number 1, but number 2, 3, 4, 60, 999. Not that drowning person, but one who is grounded in maturity, self-love, understanding of what it means to be human, a person with no expectations, not easily offended, tough-skinned, committed, loyal to the bigger picture, ready to talk things through, not looking to solve disagreements with violence—verbal or physical. Some say labels are a form of violence. So love that doesn’t need to identify with a tribe.*
I’ll tell you what else I trust: wisdom. I look for smart people and listen to them. In all this doubt and confusion of what’s right, I look to the Brights, the educated, the experienced. It often seems like I’m being lied to…from the right and the left, and often the only determinate for picking a truth is how smart is the source. How educated? How do I perceive the integrity of that source? And how credulous are they in other areas of thinking? (That’s code for “I don’t trust religious people.”)
*Tribes aren’t necessarily bad things. They may actually be necessary. After all, we are pack animals. We keep tribes from being bad when each tribe values the success of the other tribes as much as their own.