To Believe or Not to Believe: Faith?

June 9, 2010
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There are countless thoughts and ideas floating around our universe. Occasionally, someone will reach out and capture an idea and turn it into reality. But more often than not, people either forget about them or give excuses that pertain to limited time, money, or effort. But in those few cases when an idea or dream is pursued, a person grabs that thought and walks it hand-in-hand through a process. He or she is then rewarded with clarity. A person may hold on to a miracle, idea, dream, invention, proposal, or even question for years and years. But no matter what the final stages bring, the willpower of a single human being is enough to compel him or her through good and bad, will prove that acquiring that “certain something” will take time and effort, but can be achieved.

I am not a religious person. My father grew up in a Jewish home and my mother a strictly Christian environment. Both of their parents were nearly mortified at the announcement of their engagement. But through all of the doubts, my parents created a stable home for me; they did everything in their power to help me become motivated and successful, but not religious. You may be wondering why I chose to write this paper. I may not attend church every Sunday or pray before I eat every meal, but I know that God exists, and I will discover more about God as I learn more about myself.

People all over the world believe that religion is a mandatory aspect of life. But then, what part of religion is so important? Or should I say, what is religion and why is it such a global issue? Religion is not one concept, but various smaller theories that weave together to create strong bonds of faith. Religion is knowledge, trust, honor, love, hope, growth, dreams, and faith. It is about knowing: knowing what you believe, who you are vs. who you want to be, what you want vs. what you need, and where you stand as part of humanity vs. where you stand as an individual. It is about trust: trusting your family, friends, strangers, elders, God, and yourself. It is about love: loving your family, friends, nature, animals, and yourself. It is about hope, dreams, honor, and growth. It is, in essence, about you.

Religious faith is rarely achieved at a young age. Children tend to follow in their parent’s footsteps, and by doing so think that they know what they believe. More commonly, however, children follow tradition. If their parents and grandparents attended church every Sunday, then they probably will too. If their family says a prayer during certain hours of the day, it is most likely that they will too. Many people consider this comfort. I consider it lazy. A person should enter the world knowing not what they want, but how to discover it. The road to adulthood is never certain. Grass grows through cracks, potholes develop, tree roots break the surface, construction workers place detours and obstacles along the way, and eventually he or she will come to a screeching halt as the road disappears off of the map. Someone should not step onto the pathway ready to walk in a straight line, but armed with a compass knowing that he or she will wander off of the path. A very wise man once said, “Life is the journey, not the destination.” Finding out who we are and what you want to believe is the spiritual and emotional journey that life takes us on. If we spend our sixty or so years of adulthood adopting beliefs simply out of habit as a result of our upbringing and never asking questions as to why we believe what we do, what is the point? Life allows the time to develop our own thoughts and ideas – why not use it? People decide what they want to believe as they travel, have experiences, meet friends, suffer through tragedies, and live their everyday life.

Where someone lives can determine which direction he or she may lean. For example: just as Colorado is considered a democratic state and South Carolina is mainly republican, Jews are more commonly found in New York than in Arizona. Because of this, people who are born into Christian families in the South are probably going to remain of the Christian faith. And again, many children will choose to stick with the tradition that they are raised with. This is not wrong. Exploring all of the different options and then choosing to go back to the original situation in which one grew up is normal. But opening one’s eyes and seeing all of the possibilities allows room for more opportunities and opens doors that may have once been bolted shut. To question one’s faith should not be seen as a weakening, but a strengthening of one’s search for something beyond ourselves. By carefully dissecting one’s beliefs, a person will begin to toss away that which holds no personal meaning, and begin to build their personal faith on their own experiences of life – each unique and individual, rooted in reality rather than simply adopted as tradition.

Every journey has a destination. Whether it is the local supermarket, another state, or a foreign country, every person has a destination in mind when they first step onto the road. In the larger picture, the goals are constantly changing; five year-olds want to be policemen when they grow up, eleven year-olds want to play professional sports, and eighteen year-olds just want to get accepted into college. The point is, people should not begin their journey with the end in mind; it is the journey that determines the destination. It is only by asking questions and being willing to get a little lost along the way that we find our true destinations in life.

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