In Defense of FaithRevan Filiaexdeus I Spirituality & Religion I Commentary I October 10th, 2013
First came Enlightenment, and then Modernism. Now we are said by many to be living in a post-Modern age. With the rise of the theories of socialism, social democracy, communism, revolutionary and working class politics in general, and their various attempted implementations, faith is said to be a relic of the past.
I refute this in both word and deed.
In the interests of full disclosure, I am a person of spiritual and pseudoreligious faith. While I prefer to shy away from religious labels, I call myself a latter-day saint, also known as a Mormon. I believe in Jesus Christ, in God the Father, the Holy Spirit, in the Church as a guiding institution, and in various books of scripture, including but not limited to the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Faith reaches beyond religion, however, and even beyond spirituality. I'd like to offer a new definition of faith, one that simply states a general consensus among both believers and nonbelievers on faith.
Faith is the hope in something unseen.
In the context of spirituality, faith is a defining and determining factor, albeit quite vague. The spiritual person has a hope in the unseen notion of "spirit." She believes that the human being is not limited to its flesh, blood, and bones, but is rather an existence that is expressed through the flesh. Faith is often ill-defined.
In the context of religion, faith takes on a decidedly well defined tone. There is the concept of orthodoxy, orthopraxy, heteropraxy, heterodoxy, and heresy. Of course, any given individual is both orthodox and heretical to any other given individual. My own faith is considered by mainstream Evangelical Christianity to be utter heresy; by contrast, most Mormons consider every religion to have a degree of the truth.
Faith, however, is not limited by or to either spirituality or religion. I submit that all human beings have faith, and that faith is an essential component of the human condition.
There is a degree of faith in the context of nationalism. When a citizen follows his government to war, salutes the flag, and pledges his allegiance, they have faith in the ability of his nation to win the war even though victory is yet unseen, in the endurance of the nation even though the future is uncertain, and in the ability of nation to provide the type of life that the citizen intends to live, even though that life could end at any moment.
There is a degree of faith in revolutionary politics. Social democracy, for example, posits that we can have faith in the ability of the masses to govern themselves. There is no possible way for any given individual in a socially democratic state to know the abilities and convictions of everyone else. Therefore, a willing participant in social democracy has faith in his fellows - that, they are, at the very least, able to determine for themselves what is to be done as well as work towards the good of the whole collective.
There is a degree of faith for the common working man. The common man that labors continuously for his welfare and for that of those he cares about has faith that it is indeed possible to live a content life where one's basic needs are met. Time and time again, this has proven to be the determining factor in revolutionary politics. When the common masses are content, the nation prospers. When the common masses lose faith and are upset, there is dissent and eventually revolution. Faith, then, is either genuine or false in this context; the government in power either works to mold an environment in which the working man's success is possible or pulls blinders over his eyes to make him forget that he is a slave.
There is a degree of faith in everyday life. The vast majority of us have a limited line of sight through time. We see into the past, we see into the future, as well as living in the present moment. We each have desires and needs. Simply continuing to live requires having faith - that our desires are realistic and could come to pass, and that our life is a work towards the fulfillment of those desires.
We are ultimately human beings before we are American, Russian, or Chinese; before we are Muslim, Christian, or Hindu; before we are black, white, male, female, Jew, Gentile, gay, or straight. We are indeed human beings.
Therefore, I urge humanity at large, both individually and collectively, to consider what they place faith in. Faith without actions is worthless - one's actions reveal what we put faith in.
The capitalist system of the Western World asks us, as human beings, to place faith in money and material things. Yet money can devalue and inflate, as has been seen time and time again. Faith can be placed in money neither short term nor long term, for the DOW and NASDAQ can lose points and suddenly one's funds so carefully invested have disappeared, and that same stock market can crash.
The capitalist system is economic Darwinism. There is neither compassion nor cooperation. Any alliance is an alliance forged upon hatred - a hatred of the very idea of lacking money. As soon as someone is no longer apparently useful, they are discarded. Capitalism serves only itself, only money.
Whether you are spiritual or not, call yourself after a name of a religion or not, I ask you to reconsider your faith. What is truly worthy? What truly endures to the end, something which we can truly have faith in?
Humanists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and all of us alike have found the answer. We must only put it into practice.
"Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not ... Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself." - Baha'u'llah (Bahai Faith)
"…a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?" Samyutta NIkaya v. 353 (Buddhism)
"Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana-Varga 5:18 (Buddhism)
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." - Jesus in Matthew 7:12 (Christianity)
"…and don't do what you hate…", Gospel of Thomas 6 (Early Christian Gnosticism)
"Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" Analects of Confucius 15:23 (Confucianism)
"Tse-kung asked, 'Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?' Confucius replied, 'It is the word 'shu' - reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'" Doctrine of the Mean 13.3 (Confucianism)
"Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do." The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, 109 - 110 (Ancient Egyptian religion)
"Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets." - 3 Nephi 14:12 (Mormonism)
"This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you." Mahabharata 5:1517 (Hinduism)
"(5) Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity ... (11) Humanists affirm that individual and social problems can only be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort, critical thinking joined with compassion and a spirit of empathy for all living beings ... Don't do things you wouldn't want to have done to you." - British Humanist Society (Humanism)
"None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." Number 13 of Imam Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths. (Islam)
"Therefore, neither does he [a sage] cause violence to others nor does he make others do so." Acarangasutra 5.101-2. (Jainism)
"In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self." - Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara (Jainism)
"…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." - Leviticus 19:18 (Judaism)
"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 31a by Rabbi Hillel
"And what you hate, do not do to anyone." Tobit 4:15 (Catholic Apocrypha)
"Respect for all life is the foundation." The Great Law of Peace (Native American spirituality)
"All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One." Black Elk (Native American Spirituality)
"The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form ... Be charitable to all beings, love is the representative of God." - Ko-ji-ki Hachiman Kasuga (Shintoism)
"Compassion-mercy and religion are the support of the entire world". Japji Sahib (Sikhism)
"Don't create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone." Guru Arjan Devji 259 (Sikhism)
"No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my friend." Guru Arjan Dev : AG 1299 (Sikhism)
"The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others. If you haven't the will to gladden someone's heart, then at least beware lest you hurt someone's heart, for on our path, no sin exists but this." - Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order (Sufism)
"Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." - T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien (Taoism)
"The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful." Tao Te Ching, Chapter 49 (Taoism)
"The inherent worth and dignity of every person ... Justice, equity and compassion in human relations ... The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all ... We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." Unitarian principles (Unitarianism)
"An it harm no one, do what thou wilt. - The Wiccan Rede (Wicca)
"That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself". Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5 (Zoroastrianism)
"Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others." -Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29 (Zoroastrianism)
"What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." - Epictetus
"Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law of nature." - Kant
"May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me." - Plato
"Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you." - Socrates