Keep the Faith

People who know exactly what they want to do and be in life terrify me.

Not because they are conceivably exceptional at planning and achieving set goals and make me feel like the brilliant-but-lazy under-achiever that I am.

It’s because when they don’t get what they want, their disappointments somehow become epic problems for a number of people who may or may not be involved with them.

Yes, this sounds extreme. Hell, it could sound like I’m licking a wound. Truth be told, I’m not 100% sure that I’m not.

But one sweep of the world news could very well confirm this theory; people often justify unspeakable acts in the name of their religious, political or personal beliefs or faith. Random bombings claiming innocent lives. Hacking human beings in broad daylight. Raping, torturing, or kidnapping women and children. Committing crimes of hate and bias based on another persons ethnicity or sexual preference. Denying rights and opportunities because you feel someone who does not share your beliefs are therefore beneath you and don’t deserve a chance to be counted.

On the lighter side, we also exhibit this behavior in the most basic of forms in our relationships with those around us. Something as simple as a lack of empathy can irreparably damage bonds or even the chance of forging one. Rejection (or even the idea of it) sometimes send people into an emotional tailspin that lead to poor and sometimes dangerous choices. When we stick so fiercely to what we want that we can’t see a way to coexist with others, we do a disservice to everyone involved — especially ourselves.

Think about it: how can we accept and give unconditional love if we can’t accept and give of each other unconditionally?

Today, CNN.com had a slide show of notable atheists. My first reaction was curiosity, but then it quickly segued into apathy. As I wondered why it was considered news if someone chose not to believe in God, it occurred to me just how important society has made it to believe in something. 

Admittedly, I spent a great deal of years hating the idea of God. As my childhood went from one unstable and abusive situation to the next, I wondered how — if there were a God — could he allow me to suffer. As I got older, my views became more of an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” kind of lifestyle, asking my father to get me a cross (in retrospect, a manipulation that ultimately — as desired — began the repair of our relationship). Nearly twenty years later, I wear it not for its “intended” meaning, but more as a symbol of forgiving my father and keeping his spirit close to my heart. While I respect that most people need something to believe in, I find the most vital person/thing we must believe in is ourselves and our ability to make the best choices.

It’s only when people embrace their own greatness and beauty that they can see the same in others without feeling threatened. As expansive as this world is, it is almost criminal how divisive we are to serve our own interests… be it in the name of God, Allah, Buddha, or the almighty dollar.

It was Anne Frank who said “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart”. Some of us will take a little longer than others to come to that realization.

But I have faith that someday it will happen… as soon as we stop taking ourselves so damn seriously.

Personally, I blame dieting. In fact, the world would be a better place if everyone just ate bacon. (Sure, I made that up, but seriously… have you ever seen an unhappy person eating bacon?)

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