Let’s suspend good and bad for a moment.

People think and act based on the knowledge and experience they’ve accumulated over the course of their lives. Some of it through education, some through simply living; some from schools, some from parents, family and friends, some from TV and the Internet. Some of what we learn is practical stuff, some of it is more conceptual, like what is good or bad, what is right or wrong. But we don’t want to talk about that here.

Based on all this stuff we as individuals, families and communities know, we develop rationales: reasons which guide how we act and think.

Can we drop something else just for the moment, for the sake of this argument? Can we drop the belief that there is such a thing as a single overall, correct, true, god-like “Reason”? Let’s think instead of reason in a much more local, contextual, relative way; formed by our knowledge and experience, our individual, family and community cultures, informed by the situation on the ground, in front of us at every moment… and intimately bound with how we feel about every bit of it. (Emotions are not “irrational”, they are an integral part of every rationale we have.)

Our reasons — why we act when we act, why we behave as we behave, why we believe what we have come to believe — are explanations, stories we write inside ourselves based on what we’ve experienced and learnt. These thoughts and feelings, narratives that are in our minds and hearts, that we share with each other when we talk, that we discuss and debate, agree and disagree with. Right or wrong, no matter where they come from, our beliefs are a form of programming. We program ourselves, and we program each other, with these stories based on what we’ve seen and heard, what we need and what we want, what we like and what we worry about.

Who we are depends on how we’ve programmed ourselves; how we’ve convinced ourselves of what we want and need, what we like and don’t like, and why we want, need, like and don’t like what we want and don’t.

So we need to always be vigilant, and look at our rationales. Where do they come from? Are they making life better for us and the people around us? Are they causing problems?

It is all rationales. It is all narratives. What you believe and why, how you behave and why, what you do, and don’t, and why.

How can you better convince yourself? How can you better help others convince themselves? How can you, and all of us, live better?

How can we openly, respectfully, gently help those of us whose rationales have become so corrupted by fear, loneliness, anger, jealousy, hatred, greed?

Think about it. What do you believe? Why? Has it made you happy?