Beliefs and Values – What’s the Diff?

Generally, a belief is a conviction.  It is expressed because one has confidence in the truth or existence of something (regardless of proof). Examples: Belief in God, that the soul exists, karma, when life begins, the right to bear arms, that welfare recipients are lazy, that everyone has a right to health care, women are smarter than men….You get the picture!

Values are built on beliefs. Values are action-oriented and govern the way we behave, communicate, and interact with others.  For example, we might value respect for others, accountability, transparency, and so forth. As well values are often expressed as what is important or dear to us. For example, I value my children.

Beliefs and values do not change quickly; however, beliefs are more likely to change than one’s values. Consider the following: I can value my new born baby and believe she is perfect. Most likely as the child grows our value of her will not falter, but we will eventually stop believing she is perfect as she hits the terrible two’s! – if not sooner.

We work very hard to affect, if not change, the beliefs of people. If we are conservative, we want to convince liberals to vote conservative.  If a politician believes our health care system should be more like it is in the United States, we may want to change that belief.  Believers in one religion often want to change the beliefs of those of different beliefs.

However, even as we attempt to make the changes as described above, we still value choice in our political system and share that value with people of different parties. We can believe the politician is wrong about health care and yet share values with all sides about civility, transparency, and so forth in the political process.  We can believe in different religions and yet value the right of all faiths to worship without fear of retribution.

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