Monday, 9 April 2012

Strength in belief

All of us experience times when life gets us a little bit down. When we question what exactly we are doing on this planet, what direction we are going in and what’s the purpose of it all. It’s a process that also tends to be a very personal one. Some find strength from within, such as making a concerted effort to think positive thoughts, not dwelling on events outside of their control. Others struggle in this regard. These people often only see one way out – taking their own lives. 

A statue of a seated 'sacred cow', taken in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysic
Holy cow! Is there nothing sacred any more?
Now while we never truly know why some see suicide as a solution, what tends to be lacking in their lives is a strong belief system. We’re talking about two principle beliefs here – in oneself or in a greater power. Without conviction in at least one of these in your life, there will almost inevitably come a time when you can’t go on any longer.

It would seem safe to assume that we are all born with personal inner belief. However with life’s ups and, more significantly, downs, that internal strength can often be shaken out of us. As alluded to above, for many people it’s just a temporary absence. However, if it goes indefinitely, this is where a ‘back-up’ belief system comes into play. If this is missing, then we’re moving into dangerous, end-game territory. 

The most common ‘back-up’ us human beings have these days is belief in a god. In the distant past it used to be something a little more tangible, such as the sun – indeed that star is still worshipped by what some arrogant types like to call ‘primitive’ peoples. Many of us don’t need this additional ‘faith’; we have enough personal strength to get through life without it. Some buy into it regardless, possibly because it was indoctrinated in them from a young age, while for others it can quite literally be the difference between life and death. For this latter type, the secondary belief is obviously very important.

Over the last few years, we’ve met a number of people that without this strong faith in something outside of themselves, they more than likely would not be with us today – or at least not in their relatively normal current state of mind. To this end, believing in a god, or whatever, can be quite a positive pursuit. 

The problem is, however, that faith in a god is often tied up with an organised religion. Now you might ask what’s wrong with that. Well without going into the multitude of conflicts and wars that have their origin in opposing religions, such organisations have at their core the desire to completely brainwash their followers to the point of removing independent, reasoned thought. And that, we feel – in most cases – is dangerous.

The Archbishop of Bogotá, Jesús Rubén Salazar Gómez, looking all powerful seated on his 'throne' during Good Friday ceremonies at the main Cathedral in the Colombian capital
A picture of humbleness - the 'king' & his subjects
The idea of a group of similar minded people gathering every now and again to ‘worship’ their chosen, peace-loving god is fine in theory. Indeed there are many unanswered questions as to where we come from, how life began, etc. that we can’t really rule out the existence of a ‘god’, depending on your definition of such. But when you throw in completely illogical tales - very powerful in imagery as they may be - that are taken as unquestionable truths and thus frame how the vast majority of us are asked to live our lives by law, then you have problems.

We’re all for believing in what you want to believe in. What we don’t like is when some people think that their ‘belief’ and the associated rules are more important than our convictions. From a Catholic point-of-view, if the Bible happens to be 100% fact (just take a 'leap of faith' for a few moments), then the powers-that-be in Rome must have skipped a few pages when they were coming up with their take on things. 

We won’t go into all the apparent contradictions, but for one did ‘god’ not say at some point that he was against extravagance when it comes to devotion to him/her. Well god, you must be pretty annoyed so with the lavishness of some of the churches built in your name. What’s more, you’ll usually find members of your flock walking over and ignoring the poor and homeless, especially here in South America, to get into ‘your’ luxurious dwelling. They must be the damned, right? Hypocrisy is certainly not in short supply in such surrounds – and a lot of the time it comes from the pulpit.

We could go on, having a go at all religious groups – Buddhism apart perhaps – but we’d be here all day. You get the point. As those good Catholics, Oasis, once sang, “I’m free to be whatever I, whatever I choose and I’ll sing the blues if I want.” That’s true, within reason. 

So while some find comfort in a dog, others do so in a god – but just as we’re not big fans of the neighbour’s dog running riot in our house, we don’t want another person imposing their god and its ways on us.


  1. Thanks Micheál! I do try to please!

  2. The last thing I was expecting was an Oasus quote!

  3. Well Ark's sis(??), that is the 'Wrong Way' way - you never know what to expect!! Do spread the word if you can..! Cheers for the comment!

  4. Interesting thoughts Wrong Way - I for one get a lot of comfort from my dog!

  5. I'm glad to hear that Sasha! And I bet your dog isn't as demanding as a god - or if it is, at least its probably more fun!