Belief Systems Essay, Research Paper
September 27, 1999MY BELIEF SYTEMDo you ever wonder why we do things the way that we do? All of our thoughts, words, and actions revolve around a certain belief system. This belief system is not something that we are born with, although it is profoundly dependent on the culture we are born into. Every culture has its own general belief system that has been passed on from generation to generation. Although cultures don t particularly force its members to share the same beliefs, the belief system of the culture is usually conditioned into the belief system of its members through everyday living within the culture. This belief system consists of different ideals on a wide array of subjects, such as morality, race, financial security, and many others. One can easily see how these beliefs change from culture to culture by looking at the difference in ideals of a third-world country, such as India, compared to the highly developed country that we live in. This comparison exhibits how cultural heritage does in fact play an important role in the development of our own belief system.My own cultural heritage, like many other Americans, is virtually untraceable. My ancestors were immigrants from all across Europe; therefore, I really don t have a particular set of beliefs that has been passed down through the generations. However, I feel that the basis of my own belief system is the product of living within 3 sub-cultures: white, middle-class America, the Roman-Catholic community, and Generation-X. Although the general beliefs of these sub-cultures are very different, and in some cases contradictory, they have all had an equally significant role in the development of my own belief system.Out of all three sub-cultures, white, middle-class America has passed its beliefs to me in the most inconspicuous fashion. One belief that I have regrettably attained is that of never-ending financial security. I truly believe that white, middle-class America, has conditioned me and many others in my situation, into taking money for granted. I was a kid that always had my needs met. I lived in a nice house and there was always food on the table for every meal. Even though it might not be what I wanted to eat, it still kept me away from the hunger of less fortunate people. I ran into a similar situation when I turned seventeen. Like most kids my age, I got my driver s license and like most kids at my school I got a car. Although I may not have received a new car like some of my friends, it was still a 94 Ford Taurus that got me around until I came to Lehigh.Another belief that had been conditioned into me as a young child is that of a lack of comfort around minorities. It is kind of hard to explain this belief, so the best way to get this belief across is through an example. When my family and I would go to New York City for a Yankee game we would have to drive through the primarily black and Puerto Rican communities of the Bronx. My parents would tell us not to stare because they might shoot us or about how this is the bad section of the city. Although though they weren t necessarily racist comments, they were definitely prejudice. This has ultimately given me this belief that I must pre-judge all people, especially minorities. Now that I m out of my white community and into a student community of all races, I definitely feel more able to communicate with all people although that tendency to pre-judge people is still in the back of my head.
Going to church and CCD has also instilled many Roman-Catholic values into my belief system. Most of my beliefs that have attained through the church regard issues about right and wrong. Unlike the beliefs of white, middle-class America, the belief system of the church are firmly portrayed. I know that according to the Bible things like lying, cheating, and stealing are wrong and considered sins. Although I can not say that I have always followed the rules of the church, when I do sin I can truly say that I am sorry and feel some sort of guilt for doing wrong.Although I try to model my beliefs after those of a devout catholic, many of the beliefs have been contradicted by parts of American culture. The one that sticks out in my head is the belief of creationism. The Bible tells the story of Adam and Eve being created by God on the seventh day. However, my public school education has proved to me that man was created through millions of years of evolution. In this case the scientific information given to me has made me go against the catholic beliefs of my cultural heritage.The sub-culture that may have affected me with the most controversial beliefs is that of Generation-X. Generation-X has had its own ideals that have done everything possible to contradict the ideals of mainstream American culture. Generation-X has instilled the belief on me that alcohol and drugs are okay. Despite all the education and advertisements that tried to condition 90 s teenagers into thinking illegal substances are bad, Generation-X has made the use of these substances acceptable. Although I don t necessarily participate in the use of illegal substances, I do feel comfortable around people that do use.Another one of these controversial beliefs is on the topic of pre-marital sex. Throughout my life the Christian teachings I have received have told me that pre-marital sex is morally wrong. The public school education has also tried to push off the belief that abstinence is the safest sex. Despite all this, I have still followed the belief of Generation-X in thinking that pre-marital sex is acceptable if it is done safely.Everyone has their own set of values and other ways of thought that can be called their belief system. This belief system is impacted greatly on the beliefs that have been passed down from generation to generation within a culture. This cultural heritage is different for all people, thus making everyone have a different belief system. My belief system has been most affected by three particular sub-cultures that make up my cultural heritage. These beliefs ultimately decide why I do the things I do.