What Faith Can Do

>  There’s a lot of talk about religion in the news. The influence of the “Religious Right,” the terrorist bent of radical Islam, the religious affiliation of the Presidential candidates running in 2008.  Yes, lots of talk about religion. There’s just not much talk about faith.
   I learned about faith from my father.  Growing up, all of the dictionaries in our house had the word “can’t” crossed out. My father had done that. He didn’t believe in not being able to do anything you set your heart and mind to do. He believed in himself, the goodness of others, the need to be charitable and always, a positive outcome for the future. I knew he believed in me, too. 
    Religion, he wasn’t so keen on. He was  offended by the politics of  organized religion and the hypocrisy of too many of its adherents. He didn’t espouse his faith. He lived it.
    Years have passed since my father’s death, but the lesson he taught me about faith has been reinforced by my own life experiences. I too have walked away from organized religion, put off by its politics and its hypocrisy, as was he. I have come to know that the only real “sin” is doubt. Doubt in yourself, doubt in the goodness of others, doubt about how connected we all are, and doubt about the future of mankind. 
    Religion divides us. It says “I am different than you because I believe this way…and our ways are irreconcilable because each of us believes that either 1) there is only one way or 2) my way is the best way. 
    Faith operates on the positive principle of inclusion. Faith says, “Everyone is valuable” and “Everything is possible.” Faith says, “I may not know how to accomplish my goal at this moment, but I’ll figure it out.” Faith tells me, “You are not alone and you are loved.” Faith promises hope for tomorrow no matter what today brings.
    A Rabbi I know is like my father.  He has faith in the goodness of everyone. One night near dusk, the Rabbi was walking home from a train station in Brooklyn when three teenage youths bent on conflict surrounded him. They threatened his safety and taunted him with ethnic slurs. The Rabbi responded from a place of faith. He looked at these boys and saw only their goodness and a positive outcome for the whole encounter. After a few minutes of holding his ground and conversing with the youths, each boy could not understand why this Rabbi was not afraid of them and for his safety. Finally, one by one, they concluded that he must be crazy and so they let him pass. Rabbi walked the rest of the way home as he always does, smiling and making small talk with strangers.     
   He’s my kind of Rabbi. His peers take issue with many of his “non-traditional” views and approach but regular folk just love him. He exudes faith.
    We have a 14 year old daughter and a few dictionaries. I haven’t crossed out the word “can’t” in any of them. But I like to think my father is smiling, wherever he is, knowing that I try and live his kind of faith and that our daughter thinks she can do anything if she puts her heart and mind to it.

Did you like this? Share it:

Comments are closed.