So lately I’ve been thinking a lot, viewing other’s commentary on the state of the US, the world, and religion as a whole and as divided sectors, and trying to hone in on what exactly it is that I believe. I’ve said before that I think it’s our duty to respect each other’s beliefs as a representation of ourselves and what we think we are at our cores. I truly think that beliefs are just as foundational as genetics and environment when it comes to how we feel about ourselves, which is why a sudden uprooting of someone’s belief system can be so devastating.
Equally as devastating, though, is not knowing what you believe.
According to our old, familiar friend, Miriam Webster’s Dictionary, (at least for those of us who lived in the pre-Google era) the definition of belief is as follows:
faith – trust – confidence – persuasion – credence
Note the synonyms.
Now, I, personally, seem to hold a hodge-podge of beliefs to be true. In a way, I may seem a bit lost but truly, I feel rooted in the things I believe. I won’t deny the power of the lunar cycle or the sense of peace that one can find through meditation or balancing one’s chakras. I think there’s something to be said for respecting Mother Earth because I think she has a fury like none other. I think a lot of times we pray to Father Time. I believe in a Christian God but I don’t doubt that my God is very similar to the gods of other religions. It’s possible that He, Zeus, Allah, Oden, and Yahweh may be one and the same. I don’t doubt that there is an all-powerful God. Too many amazing and astonishing things happen for me to think that’s the case, but I wonder, do I contradict my own dogma by allowing other people to have their own faiths? Or to believe a little in the power within each of us?
So then, I wonder, how important is faith in politics. Rather, how important should it be? Obviously within the church, it’s critical. Within a nation, there’s a disparity. I’m not sure I understand how a leader’s opinions on abortions and gay rights have anything to do with the state of the country. I believe it should be run like a business who’s goal is to thrive and protect it’s employees. I don’t think people should have to check their beliefs at the door when they enter an office or a debate or anywhere else for that matter, and I think those beliefs should be welcomed and honored, regardless of what they are. Prayer shouldn’t be banned in schools, but people should respect everyone’s right to pray how they like and to whomever they like.
But more importantly, I’m finding on this search for my own beliefs that Walt Whitman seemed to have it just right.
“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.”
Here’s the most important part, I think: “Dismiss whatever insults your own soul.”
Your OWN soul. If something doesn’t sit right with you, even if it seems to be the popular belief or a central concept to the dogma your faith has, don’t accept it. You don’t have to. I don’t think God will hold it against me that I pick and choose what fits with my soul. That’s the power of will. If I was meant to believe it, than it will fit.
I’m curious about other people’s thoughts on this. I love faith journeys, so please, please, please post a comment or message me or send me a text or whatever. Let’s talk about it. I want to hear you out.
And remember, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” – Yoda