Why Do We Need Beliefs And Values?

By Antonia Čirjak on May 1 2020 in Society

If you want a good analogy for the importance of beliefs and values, think of them as a compass.
If you want a good analogy for the importance of beliefs and values, think of them as a compass.
  • The notion of a fact, even a quick one, depends on whether we all agree on what is true in a specific statement. If you do not agree, you may look at this fact as something that is not within your set of beliefs.
  • Beliefs and values are something that is under a constant process of change. The idea of what is right and what is wrong is something that has to be continuously contemplated by everyone.
  • Every society has a different form of sanctioning people or groups that went against the dominant way of thinking.

If you want a good analogy for the importance of beliefs and values, think of them as a compass. If you are lost in the woods, far away from home, understanding how to do a basic orientation with a compass will help you a lot. But, as with any other skill, there are possible alternatives, so speaking of beliefs and values is a question that immediately triggers a very cautious approach. 

Importance Of Beliefs And Values

The reason why we always have to speak in relative terms here is that beliefs and values are something that makes people, to go straight for the point, start a war against each other. Now, the level where we want to discuss the importance of beliefs and values can be as small or as large as you can imagine. Anything from your daily routine of possibly washing your teeth when you wake up to making a decision on the next presidential elections is, in many ways, shaped by the values you grew up with. Or the values you want to see changed. Or the beliefs you are firmly against. 

Everything comes into play to shape something that could most easily be explained as a standard - or a model of society that you live in today. Beliefs and values are, above almost everything else, prone to change. At the same time, some of them seem to have lasted for thousands of years. 

The Process Of Appropriation

What makes things slightly more complicated, yet none less important if we want to understand how beliefs and values shape our behavior, is the fact that they are hard to critically reflect upon. There are several reasons, and some of them can be found if we start digging up the neverending hole that is the notion of human nature. But let us be more specific and look at them as cultural forces that define how a human should act like within a particular environment. 

The way you learn about these regulators of everyday life is something that is an experience almost impossible to avoid. From the day you were born, there is a considerable chance they either picked a pink outfit if you were a girl and a blue one if you were born a boy. Beliefs and values determine roles one should take to a large extent. Although we emphasized how important it is to critically look at these notions, you could argue that beliefs and values can act like restrictive nodal points. These ideas determine what we find acceptable and what is frowned upon. 

The appropriation of what you should be, and how you should act like is coming from the pool of beliefs and values that are prevalent at a specific period in history. From the early days, you depend on your parents to transfer the knowledge, as much as they possibly can, on how the world outside works, and what are the things you can or can not say, do, suggest, or even think.  

The Good, The Bad, The Cultural?

However, most of the beliefs and values you care about today, however fragile they might seem in a different historical context, are a guideline that helps you navigate through life. As long as someone’s beliefs are not directly defying the freedom of someone else to have an alternative view, we cannot speak of beliefs and values as something intrinsically wrong or right.  

The culture we live in, the events we all witness, and share, they are in a constant tension of how differently one may interpret them based on their previous beliefs. That is when we witness changes, and where matters relevant to the public start to appear. 

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