Is there a ‘right way’ to think and live?

Although China has had many violent periods in its history, there have not been wars fought in the names of the different belief systems that we have studied. The different ways of living (Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian) have coexisted peacefully and complemented one another.

Following from this, we discussed whether there is a ‘right way’ to think and live, which feels like an important question to ask at a time when London and many other parts of the world are subject to terrorist violence.

Here’s a selection of thoughts from the class. The general feeling seems to be ‘yes,’ there is a right and a wrong way, but not just one right way, an infinite number of possibilities – and the world is better for this diversity. As Faith says, difference is a good thing not bad.

Kaliyah. There are definitely right and wrong ways of thinking and some people have definitely passed the limit; they have started to do things that are totally unnecessary: terrorist attacks and killing. There is definitely not just one right and wrong way of living because everybody is different and their brain has developed differently. If we tried to make everyone the same we would fail because we aren’t all the same.

Sylvie. Different people have different backgrounds and different experiences and no-one is the same so why should we try to force people into thinking one idea, to one peephole on the world. Life is much richer if there are more possibilities. There is a line – you cannot accept racism, sexism, violence etc. – but the world is complex and one plane of understanding would be strange, almost inhuman as everyone’s different.

Jim. I believe there kind of is a right and a wrong way of thinking and living but I feel there should be more than one right way. But you should be free to think what you want to an extent. As long as you follow the basic rules of law and rights I feel that is the right way. No one is the same so everyone has a different interpretation of life. Jacob picks up the point about the role law, saying ‘Maybe in some ways all people are the same because of laws but if it wasn’t for laws there would be war at least once a year.’

Emily. There is no right way to understand the world. Everyone has different experiences, so everyone will believe different things because no two people are exactly the same. So if you take an extremist/terrorist and ask why are they like that, because people are not born wanting to kill, it is the people around them and their experiences who shape who they are.

Olivia. We all have different experiences, so having one right way of thinking and living is basically impossible, and it would make our world boring, and no-one would learn from their mistakes, making us unintelligent creatures who do only one thing.

Myah. I think that the wrong way is saying things like everyone should be the same and no-one should be individual, and the right way is persuading people to think for themselves.

Faith. There are 100,000,000,000 ways of thinking. Some people believe in monsters and spirits, some don’t. Different people believe in different things. It would be weird if everyone was alike in the world – our memories are different. Difference is a good thing not bad.

We’d normally stay away from politics on this blog, and President Trump does not get a good press from many in 6CM, but a post today from daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, in response to the latest violence in London, feels helpful to our discussion.  She wrote: “Even if my neighbor doesn’t understand my religion or understand my politics, he can understand my story. If he can understand my story, then he’s never too far from me. It is always within my power to build a bridge. There is always a chance for reconciliation, a chance that one day he and I will sit around a table together and put an end to our history of clashes. And on this day, he will tell me his story and I will tell him mine.”