Thursday, March 5, 2015
No, I'm not here to sell you anything; not any Jesus, any Mohammed. No pamphlets. No snake oil. But I submit to you that each and every one of us engages in various acts of faith on not only a daily but almost a constant basis.
First, let's get our definitions straight. At the core, faith is basically just a strong belief. We're not even talking about anything mystical or magical. Yet. Only a vague but strong sense of trust that something will occur or continue to occur. Let's start out with some very common basics.
Electricity. It's normally invisible, until generated at higher voltages. Then we can see it in the form of arc welding, lightning or a Jacob's Ladder. Nothing unusual. Simple science. But my point is, we have faith - we trust - that it will continue to behave as it is supposed to; in a manner we have become accustomed to. We plug a vacuum cleaner into the wall socket - or any other common electrical device or tool - and we click a switch and expect a certain desired result. But there are any number of factors that could - and do - change that outcome. Bad or faulty wiring, for example. Surges in the transmission lines. Basically, we take for granted that things will behave and perform the way they're supposed to. If that were not so, if the odds were 90% or less of this happening, we would be taking all sorts of precautions and tests before using simple, everyday appliances. We be checking voltage levels and ground potentials. Things that professional electricians do regularly because it can be fatal if they don't. We've just gotten used to things working the way we expect them to.
Domestic water supplies. We turn on the cold faucet and expect cold water. And hot water from the other tap. We don't expect to be scalded. But it can, and does happen. A clogged water filter on a well system can result in uneven water pressure between the cold line and the hot. We expect domestic city water to be clean and safe. But it can easily be otherwise. We don't normally perform basic lab tests before we bring a glass of water to our lips.
Automobiles are a huge source of malfunctions; especially now that so many solid state computer modules are part of their operating system. But we don't plug them into a diagnostic machine before getting in and turning the key…and go rolling down the highway at 60 mph or faster. We trust that the wheel bearings won't heat up and seize. We trust that the tires will not shred apart. We trust that other motorists will stay on their side of the median line.
There are thousands of things and systems that are a part of our daily lives that we simply take for granted.
Then, there are personal relationships that involve faith. If we're in a relationship with another person, that means we've placed trust/faith in them; that they will be there when we wake up in the morning. That they won't freak out on us and cause physical harm. That they won't give us an STD. And yes, too often that trust can be broken. That's the way life goes. But we trust, anyway.
Oh, you can say,"but it's not blind trust." Isn't it? Oh, but you know that person. You've lived with them for a while. Maybe a long while. But it is the nature of Man (and Woman) to extend trust. Eventually. It doesn't come right away. People have to earn your trust. It's like credit. And so you extend it.
And sometimes you're rewarded. And sometimes you lose.
But that doesn't stop you from doing it again. People that experience failed relationships usually, eventually, get into another one. Whether they're using what you'd call good judgement or bad, they do it anyway. Yes, some do give up on relationships, but not most. It's like a street corner game of 3 card monty. You believe you can win. And it's that belief - or faith - that keeps you going.
If you really, truly believed that there was only a 50-50 chance of things happening around you the way they should, you probably wouldn't get out of bed in the morning. Or, if you did, you probably wouldn't go too far out the front door. Because you'd be scared shitless that something is bound to go wrong.
In addition to not selling you any religion, I'm also not going to give you a list of facts - of case studies - that demonstrate the power of the placebo. I don't know what the limits of the human brain are regarding the healing process, but there are thousands of documented cases where people were given placebos and who demonstrated various levels and manifestations of healing/improvement.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission report from 2000 showed that there were 150 electrocutions related to consumer products. Well, that makes MY odds pretty slim, right? Yeah, maybe. But I bet those consumers who got zapped weren't expecting it to happen. And most likely, it wasn't a case of dropping a hair dryer into a bathtub. Shit happens. Doesn't stop us from using microwaves, toasters, etc.
What I'm suggesting is that we all participate in regular, daily instances, events that involve trust/faith, and in view of that fact, it doesn't behoove anyone to feel special or superior to anyone else if that trust/faith involves something spiritually-based. An extension of trust/expectation/faith has really nothing to do with whether the object of that trust/expectation/faith is something you can touch or hold in your hand. You are merely transferring your belief onto that object. Science has nothing to do with it. It is a choice, a gamble that you make.
What I'm suggesting is that where spiritual faith is concerned, it really doesn't matter if the person in question claims their faith is rock-solid, or whether, like Fox Mulder and aliens, they just choose to suspend their disbelief and keep their options open.
They're not odd, or stupid.
You know, I've been a musical performing artist for almost 50 years. I've also been a machinist. I use power tools on a regular basis. I use chain saws.
But I knew another talented musician who wouldn't even touch a simple drill or skill saw. Was he exhibiting an extreme fear or mistrust in them? I don't know that I would say that. I don't know that I would call him odd for his choices. Or his lack of faith.
People just shouldn't think they're special or look down on anyone else when it comes to the concept of faith.
Because we all participate in the process one way or another. Toward whatever we extend our psychological faith is irrelevant.