Faith ~ a small 5 letter word but it can mean so many different things to so many different people.

Faith
Noun: faith
1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
“This restores one’s faith in politicians”
Synonyms: trust, belief, confidence, conviction, credence, reliance, dependence; More
Antonyms: mistrust
2. Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.
“Bereaved people who have shown supreme faith”
Synonyms: religion, church, sect, denomination, persuasion, religious persuasion, religious belief, belief, code of belief, ideology, creed, teaching, dogma, doctrine
“She gave her life for her faith”
A particular religion.
Plural noun: faiths
“The Christian faith”
A strongly held belief.
“Men with strong political faiths”
Exclamation IRISH
Exclamation: faith
1. Said to express surprise or emphasis.
“Faith, I was shown the door myself and came home”
Origin: Middle English: from Old French feid, from Latin fides

We all have faith in one thing or another ~ but what most people seem to think of first is faith equals religion. I’m not about to bash religion as such, but I’m not going to promote it either. Everyone has a right to their own belief, in whatever form that my take.

It was a facebook post by my husband that prompted me to write this blog, it was..
“”What’s on your mind, Dave?” Well Facebook, thank you for asking. So, I’m thinking, we currently have floods, hurricanes, wild fires, genocide, famine, racism, war and terrorism in the World, and possibly on the brink of a nuclear war. Therefore, if there is a God, he’s a c**t!”

Quite the statement don’t you think?

It really did make me think and hand on heart, whilst I don’t like using the “c” word as for some reason it makes me uncomfortable, I felt this status was something worth discussing.

I used to class myself as being a follower of the Church of England. I wasn’t a devout follower by any means but would put it down as my faith on all documents without a second thought as to why. I was confirmed into the church in my early teens, married in church and baptised all my daughters in the church too. I even went so far as to putting them into Sunday school when they were little because I liked the young vicar who ran it. He played guitar and didn’t make the sessions too God heavy, instead just focussing on small lessons about what was the right way to behave and what was deemed to be the wrong way.

It wasn’t until my daughters starting growing that the internal questions began. “If” there was a God then why…? So many questions with no answers other than it is impossible for a loving, caring entity to create a world where there is so much cruelty, wickedness, tragedy and despair. I realised, for me anyway, that to believe in a God you had to believe “He” or possibly “She” created the world and to not believe in the creation as explained by science, or dinosaurs for that matter. *Those who know me well will understand the dinosaur reference, which I will not go into here.

My faith is, I realised, in humanity, not in a deity.

I came across an article here where it talks about religion and science.

“In the beginning, God created heaven and Earth, and he saw that it was good.” Book of Genesis, the dramatic opener of the Old Testament.

By the final Book of Revelation in the New Testament, the Earth suffers “Seven Plagues” — from disease to “intense heat” and drought, then finally a shower of deadly hailstones.

And then comes the Apocalypse, the final judgment of man and destruction of the world by fire.”

In this article there is a quote by someone who believes in God who feels the changes are because of the sins of man“If you carefully look at events there are certain catastrophes,” said Han. “But God is in control and it’s not God’s fault, it’s our fault because we sinned against God.”

Another article I found interesting talks about our historical links to religion and meteorology called Weather and Ancient Religion, Greek Mythology

“Weather is a crucial part of our lives and always has been. Destructive weather can mean losses of property and life. The right weather conditions grow crops. If it’s favorable or unfavorable weather, it still impacts our lives on a daily basis. We know more about meteorology now than we did 2,000-3,000 years ago, but there is much about the forces of nature that are still as mysterious and awe-inspiring to us today as it was then.”

Whilst I don’t believe in God I do believe that it is the sins of man that are to blame for much of climate change and the disasters we are seeing. We chop down the forests, pollute the seas, land and air with our rubbish, chemicals and toxins.

The committee on climate change say..

“Geological records stretching back millions of years indicate a number of large variations in Earth’s past climate. These have been caused by many natural factors, including changes in the sun, volcanoes, Earth’s orbit and CO2 levels.” However, comprehensive assessment by scientists shows that it is extremely likely that human activity has been the dominant cause of warming since the mid-20th Century.”

So, to “floods, hurricanes, wild fires, famine” all of these are said to be caused by alleged “Acts of God” or nature depending on belief. I say that it is neither, it is down to our irresponsible behaviour in our treatment of our planet. Our throwaway culture, act now worry later mindset and blind consumerism has caused the planet to change. We buy and use without worrying about how products are produced, where components come from and where they go when we have finished with them. We need to be accountable for all of our actions in every aspect of our lives and look into ways we can improve our lifestyles to create as small an impact as possible on the planet. To try and undo the damage of the past and work towards caring for the planet that sustains us before it’s too late.

Whatever you believe it’s chilling; take a look at the list of natural disasters on Wikipedia here.

I believe that guilt for these disasters should lay firmly at the feet of mankind. It is our arrogance and complete disregard for the consequences of our actions in the past and in some cases present, that have led us to where we are now.

We need to be united worldwide in fighting to correct past mistakes on a clock that isn’t ticking in our favour.  This article in the Guardian from June this year makes for terrifying reading.

“The bottom line: Whether it’s faster than average warming, more vulnerable than average populations, or more severe than average drought, floods and storms, it’s clear that some places are being hit harder than others by Earth’s altered climate, and so face extra urgency when it comes to adapting to a new reality. But the bottom line is that climate hotspots intersect, and nowhere will we escape the changes taking place. What happens in the Amazon affects West Africa; the North American growing season may depend on the melting of Arctic ice; flooding in Asian cities affected by warming on the high Tibetan plateau. And urban areas ultimately depend on the countryside. We’re all in a hot spot now.”

Regarding genocide..

Genocide
noun
The deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic, national, racial, or religious group.
“a campaign of genocide”
synonyms: racial killing, massacre, wholesale slaughter, mass slaughter, wholesale killing, indiscriminate killing; mass murder, mass homicide, mass destruction, annihilation, extermination, elimination, liquidation, eradication, decimation, butchery, bloodbath, bloodletting; pogrom, ethnic cleansing, holocaust, Shoah; literary slaying; rarebattue, hecatomb
“the killing of native Americans was the biggest genocide in world history”

The hybrid word “genocide” is a combination of the Greek word génos (“race, people”) and the Latin suffix -cide (“act of killing”)

From my understanding many of the worlds worst crimes against humanity have been in the name of religion.

This article Religion and Genocide, Dr. Ellen Kennedy is very interesting, it talks about genocide and religion and that it is more complicated that it first seems.

“The Nazis exterminated 6 million Jews because of religion; Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Bosnian Muslims slaughtered each other because of religion: the Sudanese Muslim government killed more than 2 million South Sudanese Christians because of religion.”

Yes, religion may be a contributing factor but other more complicated reasons could be in play too..

“In virtually every case of genocide, a ruling elite is in a precarious position with a fragile economy and a volatile political situation. The leaders are desperate to maintain control under conditions that could quickly devolve into chaos.”

Many people see religion as the ultimate cause of genocide. It is however more difficult to solve or prevent due to a myriad of factors that come into play prior to such events. She concludes her piece with this statement…

“Religion, our guide to ethics and justice, can divide and ‘other’ a group to gain power and control through genocide.”

The “World Without Genocide” website say protect, prevent, prosecute, remember. What they want to achieve and their aim is. “to protect innocent people around the world; prevent genocide by combating racism and prejudice; advocate for the prosecution of perpetrators; and remember those whose lives and cultures have been destroyed by violence.”

Moving onto “racism, war and terrorism”. I read a title to a written piece that said “The only difference between a Christian gunman and a Muslim terrorist is racism”. At the end of the day, to my mind at least, all wars are started by a difference of opinion often based on religion. It doesn’t matter which camp you are in ~ the person behind the gun is a human being fuelled by the belief that their way of thinking is the correct one which means the opposing party is the enemy.  A difference of opinion becomes so clouded by belief that peace is not possible and wars erupt. It is NEVER okay to kill in the name of religion, or to justify a war on the basis of religious differences.

I am a pacifist, I do not believe in war, of killing in the name of peace ~ how can that ever work?

I stress to underline that I do not believe all people who have faith in their chosen deity to be terrorists or racist.

It is the actions of a few that mar the image of the many. I am saddened that Muslims, just for example, are given such a hard time for their faith. The terrorists that act in their name twist the words of their religious text to suit their fanaticism and that is not how the vast majority of peaceful Muslims interpret the very same text.

In fact you will see the Muslim community often standing shoulder to shoulder with victims of terror attacks, which incidentally they are also victims of. They condemn the act of terrorist who do these acts of violence just as much as we do.

We are all born the same, no matter where we are in the world. From the moment we take our first breath we are being conditioned by our environment ~ geographically and emotionally, privilege or lack of it and how we are nurtured. These factors will then have an impact on how we grow and develop. Our inbuilt beliefs end up being based on those of our family, religion, schools, friends and experiences.

Terrorists aren’t born they are made, the same for racists.

We need to work much harder to eliminate the influences in society which enable these behaviours and prevent radicalisation. To work to counter them and to be mindful of those who are being persecuted. To step up whenever we see wrongdoing before us and not to stay silently on the sidelines waiting for someone else to step up instead.

We need to work to avoid wars and bring about peaceful solutions ~ life is precious and should not be measured as more or less because of misconceived ideas about race or religion.

Finally, I go to being “possibly on the brink of a nuclear war.” I have to say I am concerned too.

I am deeply against everything nuclear, I do not like nuclear energy at all and would much rather move towards solar, wind and water powered energy ~ but that is for another blog.

Nuclear weapons, to my mind, are terrifying. We are told we need to have nuclear weapons to show other countries not to mess with us. Other countries have nuclear weapons to show that they can retaliate if necessary with like for like. The devastation these weapons can wreak is mind numbingly terrifying.

This brings me to Donald Trump for USA versus Kim Jong Un for North Korea. They are both not (to my mind anyway) of sane mind. They make terrifying statements and decisions, resulting in a battle between them of my nuclear arsenal is considerably bigger than yours pissing contest.

Reading I’m a Nuclear Weapons Expert. Trump’s Presidency Is My Personal Nightmare  is stomach lurching. I don’t really know how we extract ourselves from the whole nuclear weapon issue now. As more countries stockpile them it will be harder to remove them, to destroy them all forever because people now know how to make them and that knowledge can’t be unlearnt. Also, you have to have trust ~ to trust that a country has destroyed them all when you can never be 100% sure that they have actually done so.

The article closes with a comment which is frightening…

“But you know that, sooner or later, our luck will run out — that we must eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us. If the sight of Trump or Kim with the bomb disturbs you, then you believe in nuclear disarmament. That, or you believe in shovels. Lots and lots of shovels.”

We are in the hands of others, we cannot as individuals change it, instead we can only hope, lobby, protest and fight to have these weapons destroyed and hope that it happens before it is too late.

Finally, “therefore, if there is a God, he’s a c**t!” Hmm ~ I don’t like the “c” word but yes, if such a deity existed then what sort of deity is it, I don’t say “he” because if you are going to believe in something that has no proof of existence why not have God as a “she”? How could a “God” see all that is going on and allow it? That is just my own personal opinion and not one I expect everyone to agree with, but that’s the beauty of freedom of speech.

If you are interested in hearing Stephen Fry talking about his thoughts on religion, which made me nod in agreement you can watch it here. If you don’t then please just scroll past.

So going back to the title of my blog and “faith”. I do have faith, I have faith in humankind, the very many wonderful people on this planet who are magnificent in the way they live and treat others. Those who dedicate themselves to being the best they can be, to support those around them and who do small acts of kindness in whatever ways possible.

I am not anti religion I understand that it is a belief that can give followers peace, strength, comfort and support. Many local churches do awesome work supporting homeless and reaching out to help those in need. I will go so far as donating and supporting their work when I can ~ when I know it is being used locally to help local communities.

It is the greedy religious leaders syphoning money off their followers, growing fat and lining their pockets on the back of others that I have an issue with. The pointing of fingers to those who don’t have the same belief and victimising them, waging wars against them, belittling them. To the people who refuse to listen and understand those who choose not to believe in a deity. To those who deride those of us who follow the lines of science and evolution.

Everyone is entitled to their own belief so long as it doesn’t harm others. I have seen so called religious people be horribly cruel and unkind to those who don’t hold the same principles. Surely the very core of any religious belief is to be kind and care for others?

If I had to categorise myself as anything I suppose it would be as a humanist ~ but I would rather not say even that. The humanist following is almost like a non religious religion, which sits a little uncomfortably with me, although I do follow it’s principles which are defined as being..

“Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition.”

In conclusion, when it comes to faith I feel that whoever you are and whatever you believe you are okay in my book so long as you are kind and considerate to others. To stand up alongside and support those who are being persecuted to fight against their persecutors. To join forces with others to promote peace, to care for our planet, to be mindful of everything you do. Your decision, your actions, everything you do in life has an impact.

You may not realise your worth, the footprints you leave behind caused by the direction you take. Your words and actions can impact on so much without you actively realising the good or conversely the damage you have caused.  It could be how your children grow up, the values they hold, your impact on the environment, a change in a persons character, the productivity and/or confidence of a co~worker, how your relationship grows or dies with neighbours, friends and family.

All we can be is our best, to work towards changing bad habits and being open towards listening and being open towards others. No~one person is perfect, all of us are flawed but it doesn’t mean we have to give up because we are. There is and always will be room for improvement.

Even though I am not of a religious faith I embrace those in my life who are, it doesn’t make one of us better or worse than another, just different. It is simply through luck ~ good or bad,  that we may or may not be in the path of the awful disasters, wars and atrocities that are ongoing in our world. For those of us that escape them it is for us to reach out to help those who are caught up in them.

For me it is as simple as this ~ if you have faith in anything then have faith in one another.

x~X~x