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Are You Your Beliefs?

02/08/2013 16:21 BST | Updated 30/09/2013 10:12 BST

"Beliefs are dangerous. Beliefs allow the mind to stop functioning. A non-functioning mind is clinically dead. Believe in nothing."

- Maynard James Keenan

When I first read that quote in the liner notes to Aenima, the seminal album by the Los Angeles-based band Tool, I had a long think about "things". In many ways, I'm still thinking. Though that quote pertains more to the short-cuts people take in terms of substituting critical, analytical thought for a belief system which does it for them, it resonates with something more specific.

Look on any website you can find that even remotely deals with society and you will see expressions of belief. Personal opinion, religious standpoints, political beliefs etc. Beliefs and opinions are fighting it out with babies and oxygen and stupid people for the trophy of "Most Space Occupied on Earth". Many people take issues with this. I have been told on many occasion, and likely will be told again, that I have an "opinion on everything". Usually with a decidedly and oddly anti-intellectualist tint. I never understood why.

It's good to know where you stand on various issues that affect you and those around you, or even those that have as much effect on your life as a man with the flu in Australia (Unless you do live there. Then tell people to be mindful of sneezing in public). Art of any form enriches and nourishes our lives, but do we truly NEED art? On a literal level, no. However, some of the greatest debates and relationships, for better or worse, are born out of sharing personal opinions on things such as songs and images.

Should you believe in nothing? It's not for me to say, nor what I'm really here to discuss (Yet...). I wonder, though, how much do people let held beliefs define their view of a person? Allow me to elucidate. I would never fall out with someone because they like Justin Bieber's music, putrid as I may find it to be. A passionate and heated debate may come to be had on the subject of art, but I will never see it as being worthy of acrimony. When it comes to issues of greater importance, I find myself differing..

Let's take equality, for example, and focus on the hot topic of homosexuality.

Many religious folks believe homosexuality is a sin. You cannot be mad at them for this, because they have to believe it if they follow doctrine. Not everybody who is against homosexuality is a mean-spirited, horrid person, but does that matter? I used to think the reverse was true. The idea that if people were nice, it didn't actually matter what beliefs they held. Their beliefs, after all, were just that. I no longer feel that is the case. I feel that it is 2013 and if you do not firmly believe that every human being of any sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or difference deserves equal treatment, then there may very well be nothing further for us to discuss.

My point, and question, is this: Can we continue onward with the blinding notion that people are still "nice", even though they hold a belief that certain humans are inferior to based on nothing more than who they sleep with, whether or not they share a belief or any other petty notions?

I don't believe we can. I refuse to rain praise on someone for simply avoiding to vocalise their damning and illogical prejudice. "He's a raging sexist/homophobe/racist, but he's not spreading it. What a guy."

Not on my watch, but that's just what I believe.

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