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Racquel Fox January 27, 2014 History 2 Impacts of a Belief System Impact Of A Belief System If the people in a civilization

did not know right from wrong, chaos would erupt because the people might make selfish choices that do not benefit the civilization. All throughout history, people have been able to live life according to the right choices because of a belief system. The belief systems were based on the correct moral values that the people were supposed to follow in order to make better decisions. According to the Decline of the Western Roman Empire, As gladiators fought, vicious cries and curses were heard from the audience. Should the ground become too soaked with blood, it was covered over with a fresh layer of sand and the performance went on(1). The civilization of Rocktopia will not have that little respect for human life, because that makes people just that, people, no longer intelligent souls who can tell right from wrong. A belief system is very important for people to be able to tell right from wrong and to avoid things that could be potential chaotic problems. In order to better understand the importance of belief systems within a civilization and how they can influence the actions and decisions of a people, please consider the following moral dilemma: A Callous Passerby Roger Smith, a skillful swimmer, is out for a leisurely stroll. During the course of his walk he passes by a deserted pier from which a teenage boy who apparently cannot swim has fallen into the water. The boy is screaming desperately for help. Smith recognizes that there is absolutely no danger to himself if he jumps in to save the boy; he could easily succeed if he tried. Nevertheless, he chooses to ignore the boy's cries. "Why should I inconvenience myself for this kid," Smith says to himself, and passes on. If Roger Smith were a Hindu, he would save the drowning boy. Part of being Hindu is following dharma, and his dharma, his obligation or duty, would be to save

the boy. As Frey states, To follow ones dharma means to perform ones duties and so to live as one should (148). This shows that in order to live the right life according to Hinduism, one should follow their dharma. Dharma stands for your obligation or duty. Karma is another Hindu belief that explains the importance of living according to dharma. According to Frey, If people lived well, they might be born into a higher class in their next life. If they lived badly, they could expect to be reborn into a lower class (149). Even if Roger Smith did not want to save the boy, he would have to save him in order to be born into a better caste. Whereas a Confucian would save the boy because of loyalty and respect, a Hindu would save the boy in order to be reincarnated into a better life. Roger Smith would have to save the boy if he were a Hindu, because he would follow his dharma and karma. If Roger Smith were a Confucian, he would save the boy. Confucians are supposed to be kind, loyal, and wise. As Frey states, The goal of Confucianism was a just and peaceful society. Confucius taught that society worked well when all people acted properly based upon their roles and their relationships with others (208). Roger Smith would have to make society peaceful in order to be a good Confucian. Even though Hindus and Buddhists would save the drowning boy too, a Confucian would save the boy for completely different reasons. Respect for elders, proper behavior, and love of scholarship were greatly valued in Confucian society. In order to show proper behavior and make a peaceful society, he would have to save the boy. Confucius taught, Do not do to others what you would not want done to you (Frey 208). Confucians are taught to treat others the way they would want to be treated, and he would definitely want someone to save him if he were drowning. He would have to be a good person, full of strong moral values in order to be a good Confucian, and thus, Smith would be expected to save the boy. If Roger Smith were a Buddhist, he would also save the drowning boy. Buddhists believe in living life according the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths is the idea that nothing lasts forever and people suffer when things change. In order to end suffering, the Buddha taught people to follow the

Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path states, Live a life of selflessness, love, and nonviolence. Promote good actions and prevent evil actions (159). Although the Hindu would save the boy as well, the Buddhist Roger Smith would do so for different reasons. If Roger Smith were a Buddhist, he would have to be selfless. Not saving the drowning boy, even though you could without harming yourself, would be selfish. If he did not save the drowning boy, he would be promoting evil actions even though if you are Buddhist you are supposed to promote good actions. Roger Smith would have to save the boy in order to be selfless and promote good actions. In conclusion, belief systems in civilizations are important to the people in the civilizations to know right from wrong. The way that the people in the civilizations learn right from wrong is from the values taught. The civilization of Rocktopia would want to be known for teaching the values of wisdom and loyalty. Wisdom would be a very important value because it would cause the citizens to think before they act, which could be beneficial in any situation. Loyalty would also be very important in case Rocktopia ever needed a neighboring civilization to be an ally; the ally would know that Rocktopia could be a trusted ally. Confucians believe in the values of wisdom and loyalty. Those values were woven into Chinese society because of Confucianism. In a different way, Buddhists value loyalty. They believe in honesty and being careful in what people should say, which is another form of loyalty. Hindus value wisdom, but not in the exact way as Rocktopians would. Hindus believed that people in higher castes had to be knowledgeable and good in a former life in order to be born into a higher caste. Both wisdom and loyalty are very important values, and the civilization of Rocktopia will try to incorporate all the ways that Confucians, Buddhists, and Hindus all created value systems with different meanings.