If you believe that we live in a world where resources are scarce, and that you can only have enough if others have too little, then you may choose to grab for all you can get, so at least you can have a good life, even if it is at the expense of others.
If you believe that we live in a world where if we work together, we can create the resources whereby we can all have enough, then you may choose to be generous with your own resources.
If you believe we live in a world where most if not all people are inherently untrustworthy and potentially dangerous, then you may believe people need a harsh, summary disciplinarian to force them in line, and that you need to live within strongly defended walls.
If you believe we live in a world where people are neither inherently good nor inherently evil, but have the capacity for understanding, then you may believe that giving people the opportunity to understand what will and will not work for their benefit could be a better long term solution for creating a peaceful world.
If you believe that only a few people are worthy or capable of running an organisation, whether it is a volunteer group, a corporation, or even a country, then you may believe that power should completely lay in those few people's hands, and that the majority should be controlled like a mass of unruly children.
If you believe that most people have the capacity to take personal responsibility for their lives and need the opportunity to realise that capacity, then you may believe in giving people the freedom to prove and develop their character, in this way the group can evolve as a whole in a stable and sustainable manner.
If you believe that you must be the one with the achievements, power, or recognition in order to consider yourself a valuable being, then you may feel a need to give yourself special advantages or find ways to put others down.
If you believe that you are valuable now, in that you are a human being with the capacity to make a positive difference in the world just as your friends, neighbours, and everyone else in the world can, then you may be happy to share attention and support other's contributions, in the belief that this will create a better life for yourself and everyone.
What you believe affects the choices that you make in your life, and those choices affect others, often in a way which creates the very thing you believe in and thereby confirms that belief. So the question becomes, which of these beliefs do you want to be true?
Copyright © 14 November 2001, Katherine Phelps