Faith in people
In a country where people can get away with anything from traffic violations to murder, the cause of justice certainly becomes also a cause of faith. After all, you can cross the street anywhere you please without fear of getting penalized. Drivers go through stop signs all the time. So why should you obey the law? It can only be for faith. Which might be the reason why our country is this way. Despite this, we are proud to say we are a country of deep faith.
Still, there are all manners of faith. There is faith in God. No matter what religion we believe in, we believe always in a remarkable manner. Many consider themselves deeply religious. We are capable of making great sacrifices for our religious faiths sometimes to obvious excess. It is our faith in people that we have a problem with.
To obey the law and the cause of justice in a country where not everyone does this requires that the person must come from a particular premise. And the premise is that this is every good citizen’s personal obligation to fulfill if the world would be changed for the better. There is no immediate reward for fulfilling this obligation. Indeed, there is a measure of loss and plenty of risks. This self-appointed obligation would seem at times uncalled for, even naive. If any reward comes for doing this it can come only at some future time. If one does it at all, one must do it for one’s children and their future children. It can only be an heroic act.
And yet, if the purpose of making this sacrifice is to change the world for the better, then one must have faith that it will. This faith is not directly rooted to one’s faith in God. Before that it is directly rooted on one’s faith in people.
First, there must be faith that you are not alone to make this sacrifice. You must have to believe there are others who are doing it already although you might not know who they are. This faith comes from the humble belief that you are not yourself morally extraordinary. You are only an ordinary person willing to contribute to building a better world. And since you are not yourself remarkable then there must be others out there exactly like you. And you might even be many.
And then this faith in people is rooted also to one’s faith in the future. Is the world getting better or getting worse? There is no certain answer. What is certain is only that the world is changing in cycles of optimism and despair. It changes all the time at an increasing rate. Can we predict exactly where the world is going? Do we really have a hand in it? We cannot know for certain. And so whatever we do we can do only on the basis of what we believe.
Whether we are religious or not we can only describe our world using the language of faith.
But all manner of faith require a clear vision of what we want for ourselves and our future. The religiously faithful person knows Heaven or Nirvana or some other Paradise waits at the end of all these. But if besides this we also put our faith in people, what awaits us? What is our vision of a better world?
This can never be an obligatory vision we enforce on others. History shows that whenever we do this, the result has always been war and suffering. And so this faith requires that we must all have the patient wisdom to wait for this vision to form by itself as if it were a story unfolding and revealing itself in our collective awareness, a small light that slowly becomes brighter inside the dark imperfect world.
And we know exactly the imperfections of this world. Yet we also know that it is not imperfection itself which causes misery and suffering. The paradoxical fact is that this world’s imperfection is also the fundamental requirement for freedom to exist. The world we dream of can only be imperfect. Freedom itself would be lost as soon as all imperfection disappears. In a perfect world there would be no room for choice. What we hope for therefore is not a perfect world. Perfection is better left up to God.
Our hope is much more humble and yet also by far easier: That in this imperfect world there will be lesser room for suffering and misery. That there will always be room for forgiveness and a need always for all that is good. That those who will come after us will always be gentler than we can now ever be. That there will always be the thirst for justice. That there will always be room for all manner of faith whether faith in God, faith in people or faith in ourselves.
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