Perhaps nothing gauges people’s ability to discern as much as a look at what they believe. Discernment reflects, ponders, contemplates, examines, and re-evaluates based upon what makes sense, what is logical, what feels right, any new information, and what feels to be a balanced, unbiased, emotionally settled, and wise perspective. Discernment looks beyond indoctrination and conditioning, beyond the superficial emotional reactions to the depth of ones soul. Discernment integrates the surface of life with that depth.
As a youth, I needed a better reason to believe in God than simply because my family and friends did. At first glance that may sound terrible, but it formed the basis for reflection which led to an understanding and relationship with life that I could believe in with all my heart, mind, and soul. Understanding is revealed to the self, by the self, and through the self. That is done through wise questioning, not imposition and indoctrination. If parents’ understanding is clear and on a firm foundation, they can confidently give their children the assistance and guidance to find wise understanding within themselves, as opposed to imposing ideas upon them. The point is that solid belief is based upon deep understanding, not programming.
If a parent is ill equipped to provide and assist in that process, then they often resort to programming as the only option. Today we see a rebellion among young people against religion for that reason. What was imposed upon them did not come from deep within them. Yet rebellion is unwise unless it includes and is followed with respectful, wise, humble, and deep reflection. Not being willing to question your beliefs often comes from fear of what may be found. That is no way to live life.
A wise young man came to me this summer. As a science major in college, he said that he wanted to believe the spirituality of his family, but it just did not make sense to him. I respected him for that and offered what I could to help him evaluate. Spirituality does make sense, but only if one is willing take the time to make sense of it. Any superstition or confusion is thereby removed.
What people believe often tends to be what they hear first. This is true ranging from spirituality to politics, to the latest theories in any and every field, to the latest rumor. We do well to look far beyond that sort of relationship with life.
Knee jerk reactions do not serve anyone well. Beliefs and convictions that are well thought out have a firm foundation. The best teachers teach people how to think, not what to think. How to think means how to discern for ones self. The best students take time to think wisely, deeply, and with discernment. We are all students.