What are your beliefs? How were they formed? Did you choose them, or were they pushed on you by parents or siblings? Our beliefs determine much of how we structure and color our world. Without our knowledge, they may be perceived and picked up by others , filtered through what society has largely dictated as acceptable, and pushed back in your face as how they see you viewing yourself and your world, and may actually be far removed from how you really are.
Beliefs are about power and choice. We choose to agree with certain societal acknowledgements about what is important and valid and what is not. In western society, life is seen as something that happens to us, much of which is beyond our control, with no causal agent other than some type of divine "plan"; life happens outside of individual choices.. Other societies may see life as composed of varying contributions individuals make as part of a larger scheme or plan, following an intuitive knowing or feeling; life happens inside of individual choices. Both ways of viewing life are based in beliefs formed by societal dictates and customs. Individual choices provide but a small voice to influence a particular societal belief or tenet. Beliefs commonly exist outside of the choices we make concerning our place in society if we view ourselves as having little influence. Do you see yourself as having an influential opinion with which to create a ripple of change? If not, why not? What causes you to believe your expression is not important? Is his due to the fact that others appear to carry a stronger opinion? How do you know your voice isn't as strong or stronger? What caused you to believe this about yourself?
When we change what we believe about others, it provides a space for us to see ourselves more clearly. We validate what we believe about ourselves by how we perceive others and their beliefs regarding personal power. In american society, power is usually associated with position and status, which mainly are granted by abilities possessed by the wealthy and influential. The common people, those without status or influence, see themselves as mostly powerless and unheeded. Positions in government and business are filled by people who possess charisma and personality, as opposed to wisdom and sagacity. We believe wealth and influence are the hallmarks of individuals capable of leadership.
Where do collective societal beliefs stem from? If a society is influenced to believe certain things about itself, could a ruling class find it much easier to control? Where is the individual in all of this? Imperceptibly and incredulously nonexistent due to a denial of self awareness. Society is comprised of people with no individuality, no expression of personal influence. The cause of this has been a slow disintegration of basic beliefs about who we are and our place in the world. Personal and collective beliefs have been what has structured our world. If we fear what we believe in will not affect change in our world, then it will not.