Belief Systems: The Pace Of Belief In Law Today


Humans are social beings, and the one way we interact is through the assistance of belief systems, these systems are able to shape one’s personality to extreme extents. Belief systems play an incredibly important role in societies, as “. . . societies were and are founded, to cohere, develop, degenerate and die based on their belief systems”. In other words “Your belief system is the invisible force behind your behaviour” according to author Tim Rettig - who has some experience in behavioural activities, having written books regarding such topics prior to the release of this article. Essentially meaning, the reasoning behind our actions is the idea that the belief systems we follow or cohere to are justifying our actions, whether that be with or without our knowledge. And this is where the controversy comes into play. Regarding the above statements and their validity, it is highly possible that human beings, being as developed as they are, have found ways to alter or abuse belief systems to benefit themselves as individuals or as an organization giving them right of way in areas where it should be disallowed by law. This raises the question “are people justifying their actions through belief systems?” and “how does this affect the way laws are being enforced?” This essay will scrutinize potential perspectives of the argument in order to find a definitive answer on whether not people are abusing belief systems for personal gain and how this impacts society as a whole. A global perspective will be taken into account. It shall also contain current and possible courses of action as well as personal opinions regarding the issue.

What are Belief Systems?

In order to comprehend the issue, one must learn what a belief system is. Most would think it would simply just be different forms of religion - as it is something some people “believe” in - but it is far more than that; The notion of a belief system extends much further than the scope of religion. The term “Belief system” is highly confusing to some, and people of different backgrounds/education/profession tend to use the term in varying senses. Hoping to achieve some form of generality, a belief system is “an ideology or set of principles that helps us to interpret our everyday reality”, this definition comes from a teacher with a 4 year teaching experience and a master’s degree, despite it not being the most reliable source for a definition, it is, however, a highly generalized definition so it is acceptable. In this essay, however, the definition of belief systems is an ideology in which we humans utilize to comprehend our existence and means by which we justify our actions and thoughts and determine what is right and wrong. This definition falls under the understanding of a belief system from a psychologist’s point of view. Examples of belief systems would be: Islam - Religious belief system Democracy - Political belief system Analytic philosophy - Philosophical belief system Communism - Philosophical belief system Media - Political belief system. More in-depth understanding of belief systems and their types are available but, for the sake of simplicity and understanding, this explanation will do.

The Act of Justifying Actions through Beliefs/Reasons and Examples

There are a few ways one could go about justifying actions through belief systems, one way would be by misinterpreting the teachings or understandings given by the belief system, in order to achieve a goal that may be either good or bad. This would provide the person with a safety net for how s/he justified his or her action(s) or if s/he wanted, s/he could make the belief system s/he is a part of look bad. An extreme example would be 9/11 on September 11, 2001. The attackers of the event “were allegedly acting in retaliation for America’s support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War and its continued military presence in the Middle East” this was done in the name of Muslims/Islam. And that had its consequences. A person/organization/government could also follow a belief system with explicit strictness and have it influence law, where it affects those who do follow as well as who do not follow or abide by that belief system. Like when a country is largely religion-based and most laws are set on standards set by said religion. Like in Saudi Arabia, where women cannot: make major decisions without male permission, wear clothes that are revealing, Interact with men, Compete freely in sports, etc. And the justification of these set laws come from the teachings of a religion (Islam) where women are constantly undermined by men this affects everyone, religious or not. This method of adhering to a belief system only benefits one party, men. There are a few more ways one could possibly justify their actions through beliefs, but the methods and examples above are sufficient in terms of proving the existence of actions justified by belief systems and how some are used to get away with laws or heavily influence them to benefit a specific party or to damage the reputation of one. All sources used as examples of the justifications of their actions were all taken from reliable news outlets. The Information is not biased as the information in the articles were collected and compiled were from official statements and facts of the matter at hand, opinions were also excluded from extraction.

Consequences of Justifying Actions through Belief Systems

The number consequences for justifying actions through belief systems are countless, yet, they can be divided up into a few categories, ones with: no consequences, positive consequences, and a negative consequences. The outcome of one’s actions and its justifications are dependent on the initial intentions of the person or organization conducting it. Where if we see the example mentioned above where men are given much more power allowing them to get away with much more than women in Saudi Arabia. It affects women negatively by disallowing or restricting their participation in certain activities. And this is how it is in most cases, one party is negatively affected whilst the other achieves its intended goal or intent whatever that may be. The intensity of the outcome is also dependant on the initial intent but, also its execution.

Global Perspectives

The act of justifying actions through belief systems is popular all around the globe - not necessarily correlating to law – but, and it is most popular with belief systems relating to religion. According to surveys conducted by Pew research centre - a reliable source with no biased information (as it prioritizes statistics) - from a sample size of 15 countries, it was found that 80-90% of the people questioned believed people used religion (a belief system) to justify acts of violence. This ranges from acts of terrorism to domestic violence. The high percentage is likely a cause from the misinformation and somewhat acceptance of the idea that religion is the cause of acts of violence like terrorism and the beating of women. The suggestion of religion being a means of violence is a result of violent conducts in the past that have been associated with religious motives. However, this is not necessarily the case, in fact, many people use the excuse of religion when accused of domestic violence within households and many get away.

Courses of Action

So the main issue with justifying actions through belief systems is that all the different belief systems that we have set up for ourselves as a society, which help us determine what is right and wrong as well as guide us on how to live life, is that each of them overlaps and collides with one another, so what may seem right from one belief systems point of view is deemed as wrong from another. This affects how we enforce rules and laws on people. Especially, when multiple different belief systems are being combined into one single belief system being enforced as law. Countries out there have already identified such and issues with success and a few these countries have formulated plans to separate “some” belief systems with law, particularly religion. America is identified as one of the only countries to have successfully followed the “separation of religion and state” ideology. The ideology of the separation of religion and state is being pushed by a Jonathan Fox and Shmuel Sander, with aims to separate the religious belief system with that of law. Now more countries need to be more aware of this issue. However, to achieve absolute success, all forms of belief systems should be separated from law except for one. In order to reach such a goal, countries would need a baseline belief system, an ideology of life on what is right and wrong for this to be set as the basis of all laws in a country(s), and this would completely remove and avoid the creation of any biased laws. It would be some form of a universal baseline belief system created by the entire world with the intent to not be biased in any way, to any race, party or etc. This course of action is extremely far-fetched but it would solve the issue of people justifying actions through belief systems and affecting the way people enforce laws.

Personal perspective and conclusion</p> I have achieved most of the pre-set objectives of this paper, as I have analysed both global and national perspectives on the issue at hand, as well as included current and possible courses of actions to overcome the issue. However, I have not been able to find any statements from global organizations on the issue, to support my claim. So improvements could be made. Prior to the research, I was aware of the issue of people justifying their actions based on belief systems and having this affect the way laws and rules are being enforced, and I was completely against it as it proved unfair for people who didn't abuse or believe in specific belief systems, it was also put simply, wrong. My original opinion on the issue was only strengthened after conducting the research. It only proved how much people are getting away with justifying actions such as domestic abuse and creating laws based on belief systems that only benefit a single party, and affect others. And there are indeed people out there, many people in fact, that are using abusing belief systems to benefit themselves or organizations and get away with things they wouldn't necessarily be able to without the help of their belief system(s). And so my initial opinion remains. I believe that it is in the best of interest of everybody if people/countries/governments across the world where should at least acknowledge the issue, so they are able identity whether not they are allowing certain things to happen because of the reasoning behind it despite being illegal and wrong. And a universal belief system that would stand as the basis of laws and determinant of what is right and wrong should be introduced for a unison of laws.

10 October 2020
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