"Belief is a closing of the mind, an eschewing of possibility. It is always born of fear and a need for false security. Take courage and admit you don't know. That way freedom lies." Happy Cow
The other day I was having an online conversation with some of my jolly friends, when we unwittingly stumbled into the topic of belief and responsibility.
One of my sparkling friends was keen to explain to us that if you do not believe anything that you are 'copping out' of responsibility.
"No accountability. No responsibility." She wrote.
I would like suggest in this article that perhaps the precise opposite is the case. Believing relieves one of personal responsibility. When belief is dropped totally, then there is no option but to accept complete self-responsibility.
Here I am not necessarily talking just about 'religious' belief, but any kind of belief. Belief in any set of thoughts. They might be religious. They might be political. They might just be personal. When one realises that no thought is ever 'true', then one has to accept that one's opinions, views and thoughts are just a personal choice out of infinite choices.
There are no excuses any more. You make the thought choices. You are totally responsible.
In our online discussion, the subject of Hitler arose. I think our sparkling friend may have been trying to suggest that because Hitler was not religious (historians continue to debate this), that he could do what he liked and wreak havoc on the world.
Let us take him as an example.
Hitler is a classic example of belief and hope. He believed in Aryan supremacy. He believed that Jews were the scourge of humanity. He hoped to make things 'better' (at least for himself and other Aryans) by building a Thousand Year Reich. He believed that non-Aryans were inferior and it did not matter if they were crushed. He had many other beliefs. Too many to list here. Then he persuaded lots of others to BELIEVE these things too. Where did all that belief lead?
Imagine if Hitler in his oratory or his writing had acknowledged: 'None of this is true. It is just my personal choice to think these things. I have just decided to think that all Jews are bad and responsible for mine and Germany's problems. I have just chosen to think that Aryans are superior because it makes me feel good to think that way. It isn't true. I just rather like this collection of thoughts. That's the kind of groovy guy I am! So who's with me?'
Do you think that Germany would have gone down the same road if that had been the case? Suppose that those listening to or reading Hitler had also been aware that no thought is ever true. Without belief, they would not be able to use 'following the Fuhrer' as an excuse. They would act out of their own consciousness. They would decide whether they personally chose to blame Jews for the world's woes to the extent that they should be exterminated. They would have to be responsible for their choices.
'What Hitler says is not true. No thought is ever true. It is personal choice. Do I really want to choose these thoughts?'
Perhaps some still would. But without the excuse of belief, they would be completely self-responsible for any actions that followed.
"All belief is prejudice. You cannot expect one group to give up their prejudices unless you are also prepared to give up yours. You may think that your prejudices are 'nicer' than their prejudices. But this judgement is also a prejudice. They probably heartily disagree. For a world without prejudice, ALL belief has to be discarded." Happy Cow
The end of belief is the beginning of maturity, the beginning of self-responsibility. Standing on your own two feet. No Daddy in the sky to turn to for help or guidance. No book of rules to blame if a choice does not go the way you want it to, or to use as an excuse to persecute those 'awful, bad foreign folks'. No blaming others for hurting your feelings. No more excuses.
As we mature, we naturally drop belief in the tooth fairy, in Santa, in The Easter Bunny. At a certain point we just recognise that those beliefs were rather silly. What I am suggesting is no different. It is just growing up a bit more, becoming a truly independent individual, with no authority. It is recognising that all belief is rather silly, that no thought is ever true, that it is all just personal choice. No-one to pass the buck to. No excuses. Creating your own unique life story with your own choices, rather than following someone else's trail.
One day, to my surprise, I saw quite clearly what LIEs at the centre of every beLIEf.
This maturity does not necessarily mean that one will become a hippy / drop-out / rebel. One might continue to make many of the same choices that one made before. One might, for example, happen to agree most of the time with many of the rules or with much of the philosophy or doctrine of one's religion. The difference is that once one stops believing, one becomes responsible for the choices and cannot blame them on scripture or culture or parental upbringing or party line or law or just being 'that kind of person'. You choose the kind of person you are every minute of every day. You choose.
Now you are on your own. You are responsible. You choose your thoughts. You are responsible for those choices. You are responsible for how your life unfolds. You have grown up.
Rather scary isn't it? Perhaps that is why so many continue to hide behind the irresponsibility and excuses that come with any kind of belief.
The Happy Cow website and all articles on it are created entirely voluntarily and free of charge. However, if you feel that anything on the site has been of value to you, you may wish to make a voluntary contribution to the upkeep of the site. Click on the 'Donate' button below.
If you have an inspiring tale or some interesting philosophy to share with us, please feel free to e-mail your ideas to