Believe In

American English has an unusual connotation using the word “believe.” By itself it indicates what I think of some fact which can be proved or disproved. “I believe the moon causes tides.” But followed by “in” it indicates an unprovable personal intuition. “I believe in the moon.”

“Believe in” is thus a mystic marker. As soon as someone tells me they believe in something, I know I am on dangerous ground. You challenge what someone believes in only by stating what you believe in yourself. And we become entangled in an irrational argument which can never be resolved.

And it is amazing how a simple two-letter word can change the tone of a discussion. “I believe people are basically good” is fairly innocuous, inviting logical clarification or correction. “I believe in people” just sits absolute, where questioning it challenges the sanity and intentions of those who “believe in” it. 

In these times when science has truly become magic to many people, we are quickly reverting to simple shortcuts of conduct. Believing in anything announces that there is no use talking quietly, it is time to either shout or walk away.

It would be nice to find a way to bridge the gap.

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