Beliefs vs behaviour

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  • How cognitive dissonance has helped us to become what we are

Beliefs shape our lives, dictate our conscious, light our paths and ensure that we are moving in a right direction. Whether a believer of a deity or a non-believer investing his faith in the inherent goodness of morality, beliefs tend to be part and parcel of human experience. Then why is it that so often firm believers act against their cherished beliefs? Is it because the exigencies of everyday life demand them to shed their personal beliefs or is it due to the weakness of their belief in face of mighty, brutal realities of practical life, the answer evades many.

However, throwing away the baggage of stringent beliefs, gaining freedom from shackles of strict discipline and throwing caution and care to the wind has remained the hallmark of humans. Be it prophets, revolutionaries, innovators, philosophers, astronomers, statesmen, literary giants or poets they have left their mark by either abandoning the beliefs of their time or bringing in massive reforms changing the very nomenclature of their society and time.

We solemnly believe in an idea with all our heart and mind yet we choose not to act on it. That, dear reader, is human; all too human.

Why do we do this? The query has baffled countless minds over the millennia. Some say we are prone to act this way because of cowardice. Others believe to save our skin from immediate dire consequences of our acts and/or utterances. Then there are those who are of the opinion that if man didn’t know how to act against his belief he wouldn’t have progressed this far. Some feign to know that going against our beliefs is the single most important feat devised by man to overcome adversity and broaden horizons of imagination. Few, however, daring ones believe that doing what one believes and acting accordingly to achieve personal goals would be a recipe for disaster.

Life, as I previously wrote, is a strange struggle. The monsters of yesteryears are victims of today, the successors of oppressed nobodies become the mouthpieces of liberty and deliverance, the meek and humble, once empowered, turn into brutal taskmasters. War, famine, want, and poverty brings the best and the worst of qualities in us mortals. And while we are looking at stars while sitting in our dungeons and gallows, all our beliefs slowly wither away.

Our reasonable and right beliefs are sacrificed at the altar of our needs and wants. In hindsight we realise, the ship unfortunately has sailed by then. As in hindsight-wisdom after the event-better options pop up making one regret the roads not taken and choices not opted. In our case, this regretting and ruing pretty much sums up the imbroglio we are in. We want to live pious, truthful lives when we have to lie, cheat and steal to provide for ourselves and our kin. Cowards, they say, easily get accustomed to anything. In our case, we, the cowards eventually get accustomed to way too many things. Bravery and honesty not amongst them.

We are all in it together, the rich and the poor, the connected and the isolated, the inconvenient ones and the glamorous ones, those who are wronged and those who wrong

We believe that only a saviour can deliver. Our belief goes on its knees when we elect one and he turns into a usurper. Looks are deceptive, sounds are disorienting and feelings can be drastically wrong as our messiah when he grabs the power from the degenerate democracy becomes the bigger evil. A decade down the line, we begin to shed the illusion and once again search and find the same old, same debauched leaders to lead us out of the storm. It feels as if we keep on waking up, morning after morning, to realities we thought of, nah knew of, as zilch but make-believe charades. And keep on falling for the same tricks all over again. Of late, those realities have become starker, but does it even matter? Hardly. What is it all about? Well, dearest sirs and ma’ams it is about the same old cowards falling for the same old tricks, same old traps. Same old believers, sacking their beliefs for convenience sake.

We are all in it together, the rich and the poor, the connected and the isolated, the inconvenient ones and the glamorous ones, those who are wronged and those who wrong, those who remained on the peripheries all their lives and those who wrote and sang poems promising better tomorrows, those who braved jail terms and torture and those who sell their fellow brethren to earn a way out of their pathetic lives.

Welcome aboard, dear readers.