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Julia Scharf January 30, 2014 History 7 Period 5 Belief Systems

Belief Systems A belief system is immensely important for a society because it bonds the citizens together with a common set of moral values. All successful civilizations support a belief system, for example Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism. It teaches all the people of the society to respect certain traits above others. Whether its enlightening citizens on the importance of nonviolence, or instructing people to respect honesty, all belief systems help to avoid conflict among citizens. A belief system is crucial to a civilization because it enforces valuable efforts and actions. To better understand the role belief systems within a civilization and how they can influence the actions and decisions of a people, consider the following moral dilemma: 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. A Hindu, when faced with this decision, would make the choice to save the boy because Hindus have a deep respect for life and greatly value all things living. If someone who practices the belief system of Hinduism is faced with the chance to save a life, they will jump at the opportunity. A major part of being a Hindu is the belief in karma, which is the balance of all the good and bad deeds one has

committed in their life. Karma decides whether they will be reincarnated higher on the social scale, or lower. Not only will this result in preserving a living being, but it will also help to complete a Hindus dharma, and improve their karma. As Frey states on page 148, Dharma stands for law, obligation, and duty. The Dharma of a Hindu is the responsibilities that they must fulfill in their lifetime in order to have lived a life that others benefitted from. Both dharma and karma demonstrate how a belief system helps to enforce valuable efforts. These two aspects of Hinduism influence the decisions that Hindus will take when faced with a severe situation, such as saving a person in danger. These reasons all suggest that as a Hindu, the right action to take would be saving the boy from drowning. A Confucius caught in this situation would find himself/herself saving the life of the dying boy to display good character, which Confucius value over many other morals. They believe highly in making constructive efforts that demonstrate the right way to go about things. Frey gives another reason why a Confucius would save the boy [on page 208,] In return, those with authority, such as rulers, fathers, husbands, and older siblings, must set a good example. A Confucian would rescue this struggling teenager because he/she believes that it is their duty to be a good role model for those younger, or less important then them. In the Confucian belief system, one must always respect their elders and those with more authority, and in return they will always set an example that establishes valuable efforts and behavior so when the younger people grow up to have more responsibility, they will be educated on the proper way to deal with power. This is a productive method of living, and suggests that a belief system is quite important to this group of people. Their moral values and ways of life are all based off of these teachings, helping them in avoiding conflict and struggles. There would be no doubt in the mind of a Confucian that retrieving this boy from danger would be the right action to take. In conclusion, the Hindu and Confucius belief systems vary from each other in many ways. While Hindus complete selfless acts out of respect for life and attempts at good karma, Confucius believers accomplish righteous deeds in order to teach young ones the proper way to go about life. However, both Hinduism and Confucius share a common goal; to unify their people so that they all have the same

moral values. This will enable citizens to compromise more about daily matter the religion, a belief system helps to enlighten a group of people on the proper efforts to make, and actions to take.