How do you have faith?

If you turn to religion, how do you justify the suffering? If your answer is a bigger picture, I want to discuss the pain of the detail in the bottom right corner. If your answer is closed eyes, how do you quiet the observations of the dreaming mind? If your answer is one foot in front of the other, how do you do that? Really. How do you? How is the motion sufficient? How do you feel that you’re doing enough?

I know I should walk out my door and pursue my life, but confusion blocks my way. I know that I should trust that all works out, but I don’t know how, for even if it works out for me I ache over wounded children and generations haunted by war. I know I should have faith, but after driving into so many brick walls that my front bumper now sits exhausted in the back seat, I fear I do not see properly.

Existential crisis and I are one. We wake and make coffee together. He takes cream. I drink it black. We both use wooden stirrers even though mine is just for the calming effect the soothing motion offers, the same way I look at a conductor’s baton and find it more satisfying than the music.

Some say suffering is inevitable and I shouldn’t feel sad about how the world motors on. But I do. I can’t accept inevitable. I must believe that it can be better, profoundly better. I fear we have been lulled into acceptance, into shrugging our shoulders and saying, “Human nature.” If human nature is so cruel, how tragic. And if not, we should stage a worldwide rally to claim our true nature. We should stand up and say, “Not one more day of violence. Not one more day of hostility.” We should stop marching towards commercial gain and throw a picnic where we mobilize for the beautiful world we dare imagine, for if we don’t, soon our imaginations will be consumed by ghastly images that massacre optimism.

Or maybe that’s just me. There are wonderful people who reach out to cure the harm and don't get discouraged. But isn’t the mopping up exhausting? Can’t we launch a global campaign of preventative medicine of good? If it sounds like whining, is it whining? Or is it just appropriate introspection to seek to evolve the species?


Anonymous said...

I recently was in the throes of an existential crisis myself. I've managed to trick myself into feeling better just by thinking about the good things I've got going on and trying to focus on those. I suppose I would fit into the "one foot in front of the other" category currently. I keep trudging on, mostly able to ignore the garbage that was bringing me down. For the most part, it seems to be working. I'm able to get through the days, although I still find my mind wandering occasionally.

I'm not sure what all that means, but I thought I'd share. I can't say I have much faith in humanity not just ruining our world. I just try to do my part to better the world around me, and accept that that has to be enough.

I'd love to be a part of a global campaign, but I have no idea how that would work. It seems like such an overwhelming task.

Introspection can't be whining. It's too important to try to learn and grow, and certainly part of that is questioning the things we see.

Hello, by the way! :)

QT said...

It is so hard. I firmly believe we (as a species)are single-handedly destroying this planet we call home. I actually cry about it - I know that sounds dumb, but I do.

The only way I can comfort myself is to see that nature, the natural cycles of our animal companions on this planet, also contain their fair share of cruelty. Mothers have 14 ducklings so that maybe 4 will survive. Killer whales haunt the migration routes of the humpback whale, hoping to feed on calves weakened by the journey. Pelicans lay three eggs, and all three hatch - so that the hatchlings can duke it out, beating up on the weaker and killing it until only one is left.

I can't say that animals don't perceive the cruelty around them - I can't presume to speak for them. But alongside of all the bad is unspeakable beauty. And you must soak yourself in it in order to make it. At least, I have to.

Girlplustwo said...

oh, man. when i read this: I know I should walk out my door and pursue my life, but confusion blocks my way. I wanted to stand up and cheer and run around in circles.

we should all have coffee together sometime. strength in numbers when dealing with the big E.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow. I have absolutely nothing intelligent or articulate to say except that this resonates deeply in so many ways.

Anonymous said...

I didn't comment when I first read this because I don't know how to add anything to won't sound trite. I do know that I have to look at the beauty that does exist in order to not bury my head and cry. I also try to help in my own world and I hope that each of us doing our bit, makes for a bigger whole.

jaded said...

I regret that I've become too cynical to believe a global campaign would actually work. A large portion of humanity is selfishly programmed, thus many rely upon someone else to do the right thing. I try to do the right thing, and lead by example, but it hardly seems adequate. Do small gestures like mine really matter?

Thought provoking, as always.

Unknown said...

I hope you are able to figure this all out, because I'd love to read the follow-up post where it all becomes clear.

Seriously though, I have been feeling this myself as of late...a bit overwhelmed at the world.

Willie Baronet said...

You know what is reassuring? To know that someone else is having an existential crisis. I have them so regularly, and sometimes fail to know how to come out of them. I am coming to realize that connections with others (like THIS) is part of how I can have "faith", if that is the thing (without feathers). :-)

Thanks for writing!

Jack Steiner said...

How do you have faith?

Faith isn't based upon logic or reason. Faith just is. I don't expect what works for me to work for others, I just know that I find it satisfying.

Again, logic and reason are not part of the equation. When my children were born I just felt that there was something more.

Not sure if that is remotely helpful, but...

~Pastor D said...

My Faith often hears the question: How can a loving God allow such hate... destruction... or disease? You can fill in your own blank. My Faith believes that God only allows free will and he continues to love those who use their free will for the list above (and more); for those who would participate in a global campaign of good and for all of us in between - whining, or not whining, introspective or resigned to the inevitable.

It is in the knowing and the trusting and the continued experiences that back such a God's claims that "vengeance is his" and that we "reap what we sow" (karma, if you rather), that gives me faith, buoys my faith, supports my faith and explains my faith.

It will all work out in the end. And because I have seen it all continue to work out in my own life; I have faith that there are enough of us quietly doing enough good to balance out the loud and overwhelming bad.

It is as if it is true - we must have the sad to truly appreciate the happy... Good and Evil, Yin and Yang... call it God, the Universe, or nature's balance.

It is, unfortunately (and painfully and horrifically) as it is because people are as we are - both with disappointment and encouragement. And the greatest testimony to faith and to my faith and to my Faith, is our ability as a people to change, to grow, to hope and to love...