Thursday, November 10, 2016

Time To Show Some Faith

My daughter, and a lot of people in the world, are absolutely besides themselves, emotionally crushed, by yesterday's election. I understand her pain, share her frustrations, and wish I could assure her of a happy ending. I can't do that.
But I can tell her that this is one reason when people who have faith in God manage better in the world than avowed agnostics like she is. I have accumulated enough evidence over the last eighteen years to know that if I do what I am supposed to do, act morally, act principled, live the way I would like everyone else to... my life will be OK. Maybe not great. But I've learned that ultimately, caring that deeply about politics is a prescription for personal disaster. You can't control any of it, especially on a national level. Do I care about it? Yes, of course. Do I get uptight sometimes about things? Yes, of course.
And I feel some trepidation about the future. But I also know this: I survived the Bushies, and I've survived the last six years of Republican control of Congress. I will survive this. I'm not going to rehash everything that I wrote yesterday morning, but there are a few positives that can come out of this. And that I can feel that way, and see that (however murkily), is a direct result of my faith in that God of my understanding.
Because I don't believe in the Old Testament judgmental, wrathful, and capricious God. I don't even believe that God is all-powerful (and I defy any religious person that does believe that to show me where, in scripture, there is a passage that claims that God is all-powerful. I've looked for most of a lifetime, and life--and God--only started to make sense to me when I realized that the idea of an omnipotent God is an idea of men, not found in the Bible), because that idea fits the world as we know it a lot better. I do believe in a loving God, one that is merciful and cares for all of us--and that the way through problems, through travail, through pain, is to turn to Him to get through it. And by getting through, I don't mean sterile prayers or smiting enemies or changing material circumstances through miracles. What works for me is simply dedicating or rededicating myself to living by spiritual principles. And that's truly the only workable solution in trying times--because no matter what is happening in the outside world, no matter what other people do, no one but me can take my principles away. No one can take my integrity away from me, but me. No one can take my perseverance or my convictions or my spirit away from me--only I can do that. And I'm not going to. I can feel discouraged about the direction that the country may be going in. I can feel disgusted with some of my fellow travelers. I can feel fearful that any number of issues are not going to be addressed constructively.
But at the end (and the beginning) of the day, what makes me be able to sleep at night is how I act, and what I believe, and how I've followed the way that I know is best for me to the best of my ability. Doing so has brought me from the abyss of eighteen years ago to a reasonably fulfilling and productive life. Getting away from doing what has worked for so long because I don't like an election result is only going to make me miserable and unhappy for a long time to come. I can't change what happened yesterday.
I'm not totally helpless regarding the future. I can get involved; I can work to make sure that the party I belong to reflects the values I believe in, rather than those that it has under current leadership. I can even start a new party, or join another. There is no reason at all to give up; indeed, giving up is an abdication of the responsibility given me by gaining a knowledge of a principled life. I am not a practicing Christian, because some of the redemption theology I simply cannot believe in. But the message of Jesus of Nazareth about how to live our life during our mortal existence is something I can strive to follow--and I have, for a long time. Yes, I get frustrated as can be with "Christians" that repudiate, every day of their lives, the message that the person they claim was God incarnate laid down for us to follow.
But it doesn't invalidate it, and it doesn't give me any good reason not to follow it. I follow it because it has worked better than any other way or path ever has. It's easy to stay on your path when everything is going well. It's in times of discord and trouble and unease that staying on your path gains meaning.
And this is one of those times, as far as I am concerned. I am glad that I have raised a daughter--daughters, actually; my two older daughters also are not happy with last night's results--that feels so passionately about justice. But justice without mercy is barbarism. I didn't even start to believe in God and follow this path until my late thirties, and I don't follow it unfailingly even now. But I never stray far from it. She is just embarking on her own journey, and I sincerely hope that she ends up on a similar path to mine--and doesn't have to waste twenty years of her life before doing starting to.
But putting all your faith in your fellow human beings leads only to disappointment and pain. Human beings are fallible at best, and often do not practice principles at all at worst. A belief in something greater is not only desirable, but necessary to find happiness in the world, and to be able to find solace and acceptance when things happen that we do not like.
I have that belief, and I am practicing it now.

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