Faith

Faith is a complete trust in someone or something without requiring proof. Infants have complete trust by dint of the actions of their parents. No baby wonders whether he or she will be fed, under normal conditions. It just happens, no proof needed. Is being fed, in the world of a baby equivalent to the daily sunrise in the world of the adult? Is this the same as faith? Does every infant have this trusting quality?

If every infant does indeed begin life with trust, not as a concept, but rather as an expectation that a need will be met, what happens as he or she becomes more self-sufficient. Parents must tackle the transition of their children from helplessness to independence. Does the child lose faith in the parents during this process? I would say so in many cases, with the onset of the rebelliousness teenage years, if not before then. Faith in good parents usually returns later in life of the child. Realizations that, “They did the best they could,” or “They were so young they didn’t know what they were doing,” might restore any faith the child may have lost.

People are people

What happens to faith when children realize that their parents are merely human and cannot or will not respond to all their needs and desires? Some transfer their faith to friends, cult societies or become lost and confused.

I imagine that children raised in families that have a strong faith in a god, will be able to view their parents in perspective, in light of an all-powerful entity that they can trust without proof.

Loss of trust

One typically hears this phrase about some depressed people: “He has lost his faith.” This must be devastating, after a lifetime of faith, to find trust is not there or more proof is needed. The entire landscape must look different to a person who has experienced such an earthshaking experience.

Being the skeptical, questioning person I am, I feel much more comfortable with proof. I identify with the follow dialog from the movie Cool Hand Luke (George Kennedy is Dragline; Paul Newman is Luke):

Dragline: “Knock it off Luke. You can’t talk about Him that way.”

Luke: “Are you still believin’ in that big bearded Boss up there” You think he’s watchin’ us?”

Dragline: “Get in here. Ain’t ya scared? Ain’t you scared of dyin’?”

Luke: “Dyin’? Boy, he can have this little life any time he wants to. Do you hear that? Are ya hearin’ it? Come on. You’re welcome to it, ol’ timer. Let me know you’re up there. Come on. Love me, hate me, kill me, anything. Just let me know it. ”   “I’m just standin in the rain talkin’ to myself.”

Misplaced faith

What about a parent’s faith in his or her child? My Dad never gave up on my older brother, although Mike was profoundly retarded, autistic and nonverbal; Mike never improved no matter what Dad did. Dad never seemed daunted. Perhaps instead of characterizing this as misplaced faith, I should call it love. My Dad reminded me of Cool Hand Luke: he just never quit. Here is an apt quote from the movie where Dragline was beating the crap out of Luke:

Dragline: “Stay down, you’re beat.”

Luke: “You’re gonna have to kill me.”

2 thoughts on “Faith

  1. I think it’s less a case of faith than a natural determinism that we are born with that drives us forward in experiencing life to the full, which is what young children have in absolute abundance regardless of the dangers involved. This is what makes a parent’s job so difficult, is stopping your child from damaging themselves or others in their bid to experience everything. We are all predisposed to enquiry and growth, even when it would seem that our bodies are going in the opposite direction, our minds don’t age and are as fresh as the day they decided to participate in this world.
    I think when someone is said to lose faith, it’s often a case that the beliefs they have chosen to adopt throughout their lives no longer work for them, very likely because they have gone against the drive and the freedom of their impulsive minds. Young children are extremely impulsive, and gradually as they become accustomed to social and cultural norms they learn to restrain it, to the point that much of what makes them who they are becomes internalised. They are often taught that being so openly expressive is a bad thing, and over prolonged exposure to this kind of belief structure depression can set in, ill health and lack well-being, and some lose the desire to be part of the life that they have been born into.
    Life is difficult because people choose it to be that way by participating in social and cultural rituals that are often more about control than encouraging creativity and natural self-expression. I don’t think any of us is born with a desire to harm or to do ill, but I think such behaviours come about when our creative natures are suppressed through trying to conform. We all have experience of that to one degree or another. Nothing in life is really that much of a mystery when you look at it, we have just become very used to doing what we are told and not thinking for ourselves because we fear ridicule. It’s ludicrous really.

    Warmest regards
    M

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    • Hi M,

      I hadn’t thought of the parents’ responsibility in keeping their kids safe. (Doh! – slap in the head). Of course that is in the equation. Another way to look at faith is the confidence that nothing bad will happen. One has faith that one wont get hurt, until one gets hurt. The fearless among us are those who have more faith in themselves than worry about being hurt.

      Faith in a certain worldview I suppose is a different matter. When the model doesn’t fit either through experience, or otherwise, one can either change one’s model or, probably more commonly, deny the experience. I think weaker people put their intellect on the back burner and go the easiest route, which sometimes is to hang around people with the same worldview, no matter what the evidence is. In that way, erroneous views are reinforced. Everybody else is wrong and they are right. Unfortunately this seems to be the rule among pockets of society. That is the conformity you are speaking of.

      For the inquiring mind, it should be a matter of growth and I imagine satisfaction, to arrive at a model that is closer to empirical experience.

      From one curious mind to another, Warmest regards,

      Jack

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