"Belief" as written by and John Mayer....
Is there anyone who ever remembers
Changing their mind from the paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls
Ever breaking record off
For something someone yelled real loud one time?
Oh, everyone believes
In how they think it ought to be
Oh, everyone believes
And they're not going easily

Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching underwater
You never can hit who you're trying for
Some need the exhibition
And some have to know they tried
It's the chemical weapon
For the war that's raging on inside
Oh, everyone believes
From emptiness to everything
Oh, everyone believes
And no one's going quietly

[Chorus]
We're never gonna win the world
We're never gonna stop the war
We're never gonna beat this
If belief is what we're fighting for
We're never gonna win the world
We're never gonna stop the war
We're never gonna beat this
If belief is what we're fighting for

Is there anyone you can remember
Ever surrender with their life on the line?

[Chorus]

What puts a hundred thousand children in the sand?
Belief can, belief can
What puts a folded flag inside his mother's hand?
Belief can, belief can.


Lyrics submitted by boltau

"Belief" as written by John Mayer

Lyrics © REACH MUSIC PUBLISHING

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Belief song meanings
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56 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commentit's about how blind faith (religion) drives people to do terrible things which impact on the innocent, in the name of what is essentially perpetuated myth and nonsense - religion!
    dpknowleson September 13, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment“Belief is a beautiful armor but makes for the heaviest sword. Like punching underwater, you never can hit who you're trying for. Some need the exhibition; some have to know they tried. It’s the chemical weapon for the war that’s raging on inside.”

    I believe this verse is the most difficult to understand and the most important one in the song, so I will try to explain it. JM is suggesting that beliefs, especially deeply held beliefs are “beautiful armor”—they protect those who hold them from being penetrated by others. Beliefs give us an inside, an identity. They allow us to be somebody, enclosed and protected in ourselves, this is their power and this is why “everyone believes”. They also give us a place from which we can resolutely defend ourselves when we are attacked. Nonetheless, like armor they can prevent us from really engaging with the beliefs of others, from being wounded by what is legitimate about what others believe. The real problem with beliefs however is when they are used as a sword, a weapon to attack others. The problem is that beliefs are “the heaviest sword” they are unwieldy, inaccurate, and dangerous when you try to use them to violently change others. Beliefs used as a sword are destructive—one can easily be led to kill innocent people, engage in unjust wars, oppress minorities, and torture unbelievers. Beliefs used as a weapon can be self-destructive as well— they "never can hit who you're trying for". When one wages war with one's beliefs, one often undermines everything that one holds dear. One weakens their country financially, morally, and politically. One destroys oneself and everything that one stands for. Why do people use beliefs in this aggressive, reckless way? Why do they believe that it is legitimate to violently force others to accept their beliefs? Why do people wage wars of aggression to try to force others to change their beliefs? Some have a deep need to exhibit what they believe to others; some have to feel like they are improving the world. But the road to hell on earth is paved with these good intentions. Trying to violently force one’s beliefs on others is really a symptom of a deep dissatisfaction and dividedness in oneself, a sign of the “war that’s raging on inside”. Those who at bottom are not really satisfied with who they are and not entirely confident in what they believe actually tend towards fanaticism and irrationalism which blinds them to the dangers of trying to impose their beliefs on others by means of violent force, jihad (in the bad sense of the term), preemptive war, etc. These people externalize their own internal battles in ways that lead to horrific consequences for themselves and innocent bystanders. Beliefs then, according to JM, are both good and bad things and very, very dangerous. They are the fire with which we must play to have an identity and, yet, they can easily destroy our identity and lead to horrific moral and political disasters, such as the war in Iraq, which JM mentions and alludes to several times in the song.
    Muthoson April 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's "We're never going to win the world."
    Parachuteson August 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAre you the grammar police Parachutes? Anyways, here's how I hear it...



    Is there anyone who
    Ever remembers
    Changing their mind from
    the paint on a sign?
    Is there anyone who
    Really recalls
    Ever breaking record off,
    for something someone yelled real loud one time?

    Oh everyone believes
    In how they think it oughta be
    Oh everyone believes
    And they’re not going easy...

    Belief is a beautiful armor
    But makes for the heaviest sword
    Like punching underwater
    You never can hit who you're trying for
    Some need the exhibition
    Some have to know they're trying
    It’s the chemical weapon
    for the war that’s raging on inside

    Oh everyone believes
    From emptiness to everything
    Oh everyone believes
    And no one’s going quietly...

    We’re never gonna win the war,
    We’re never gonna stop the war
    We’re never gonna beat this,
    if belief is what we’re fighting for
    We’re never gonna win the war
    We’re never gonna stop the war
    We’re never gonna beat this,
    if belief is what we’re fighting for

    Is there anyone
    Who can remember,
    Ever surrendered
    With their life on the line?

    We’re never gonna win the war,
    We’re never gonna stop the war
    We’re never gonna beat this,
    if belief is what we’re fighting for
    We’re never gonna win the war
    We’re never gonna stop the war
    We’re never gonna beat this,
    if belief is what we’re fighting for

    What dumps one-hundred thousand children in the sand?
    Belief can...Belief can
    What puts a folded flag inside his mother’s hand?
    Belief can...Belief can
    swimmingbird941on August 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is controversial. controversial but true.
    yaywhooweeon September 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think its no doubt about the war going on right now, it's about bush and co. changing the minds of americans to support going into iraq. Which more than anything was a money-driven region. It's called hegemony, why make someone do something by forcing them to do it. It is much more nuanced, much more effective to subconsciously change their morals in a way that benefits you. The idea is "the best way to police people, is to make them police themselves." Such as exploiting the event of 9/11.

    hence - "What puts a folded flag inside his mother’s hand? - BELIEF CAN"
    ksquaredon September 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI definetly think it has undertones of the "war on terror/iraqi freedom campaign/global struggle against oppressors" or whatever they're calling it these days, but I think the main center point of the song is religion and how blind faith in something only leads to persecution and religious war etc..

    I don't really get the "Belief is a beautiful armor
    But makes for the heaviest sword
    Like punching underwater" lyric and the one about changing your mind from the paint on a sign... so if anyone has any ideas that'd be nice...
    Billthecat0105on September 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe paint on a sign lyrics: Is there anyone who
    Ever remembers
    Changing their mind from
    The paint on a sign
    Is there anyone who
    Really recalls
    Ever breaking rank at all
    For something someone yelled real loud one time

    and he's just saying "does going out to rallies and protests yelling and screaming and waving signs with slogans or whatever actually change people's minds about things?"


    the "belief is a beautiful armor
    but makes for the heaviest sword" is john mayer saying that it's good to defend your beliefs (armor is for defense) but you can't attack others with your beliefs (swords for attacks) i.e. saying all muslims or christians or jews or gays or blacks or whites or whatever other group out there should die because your belief or holy book or diety says you should
    thatguy5on September 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAt first I thought this was about how so many people don't really know where there views and opinions come from on topics like politics and the war- if it was just "the paint on a sign". But, now I think it may be more about what thatguy5 said...what difference does it make to rally and scream your beliefs, who really changes their mind from seeing or hearing something like that? And if people do change their minds from that, blind faith is what can cause such pointless messes without real foundation for them. I'm just not sure which point of view works better with this song
    liluxo104on September 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song transcends being a "liberal-minded" song. It's a song both sides need to hear. John is saying to everyone--left, right, and in between--that that their side's beliefs aren't going to change a thing. Protesting against or for the "war" (which I think goes beyond the current hostilities) will do nothing. It will just show that you "need the exhibition" or that you have to know you are doing something...yet "It’s the chemical weapon
    for the war that’s raging on inside."

    John is saying that beliefs cannot be what a political group, a nation, or even you or me takes to the plate with us. If we do that, then the consequences are bloody and tragic. What happens if we believe that no one will attack us on our own soil, and are indifferent? Children will turn into sand. What happens if we continue to take our beliefs to other nations? Thousands of sodiers die. There is no good way to make peace with beliefs. John is trying to communicate that beliefs have not worked for us...we need something else...

    A great song by a thoughtful, masterful lyricist.
    metallifoolon September 17, 2006   Link

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