I was born and raised as a Catholic and have been practicing (sometimes more and sometimes much less devoutly) for my 39 years. Of course that gets some ridicule in today’s world and I understand it. “Talking to your imaginary friend God?” and that kind of stuff. But believing makes life easier for me. Thinking there was a God and an afterlife made it easier to deploy, to loose friends and family, the works. So I’m not apologizing for it. But I understand the lack of belief, it’s called “faith” and it’s hard for a reason. Taking that leap in logic and believing in something that can’t be proven is hard. What I don’t understand though, is that for the people who so vehemently deny it, why they’d want to take away something that gives comfort so easily and so painlessly to others.
I digress. In recent years I’ve found that my faith helps me in one other area. It’s the whole good vs. evil thing. Because I’m Catholic I believe in good vs. evil, God vs. the devil. I believe that most humans are born with the capacity for both and have to make choices between the two on a second to second basis. Maybe it’s just because I’m a knuckle-dragger at heart, but that’s good enough for me and it’s made my life so much easier. Take the recent shootings for example, or losing my sister to cancer. Both manifestations of evil. A drunk driver hitting a loved one, tyrannical leaders in 3rd world countries. All evil. Sure, people can (and in many cases should) do everything they can to prevent these evils from happening again but I’m not surprised by it. I don’t spend every waking moment wondering “Why?” and looking for answers.
I’ve talked before, at nauseating length, about acceptance. As a culture so many people lack the ability to blindly accept more and more. When we were kids we’d ask “why?” and get the “Because I told you so!” and learned to accept it. But that doesn’t happen today. Things are explained and reasoned and you see adults sounding just like that petulant 4 year old. “Why did my husband have to die?” “Why did she cheat on me?” “Why did that CEO embezzle money?”
Am I advocating passivity? No. We should continue to hope and dream. We should continue to fight evil wherever we find it, in whatever form it takes. We should try to shore up our defenses so it doesn’t catch us unaware. But when it does catch us, and it will, we need to be able to accept it, learn from it and move on. Before the bad thing even happens, accept that there are so many things outside of our control and understanding. My faith gives me that capacity. If you don’t want to believe what I believe, that’s fine, call it chaos theory or whatever you’d like, but not learning, training ourselves to accept is, in my mind another way of letting evil win.
I was reading a “Freshly Pressed” blog the other day. And the author was talking about this crippling pain she still fells SEVEN years after she caught her ex “cheating” on her online. At that time he hadn’t had a physical encounter with anyone, but he’d talked about it, was looking for it, and in the process had shared what she felt were intimate details of their relationship. So not only did she feel betrayed through the cheating process, she also felt violated in terms of privacy. Those are understandable feelings, and it’s not unrealistic to think memories of that shouldn’t be sad or painful now, but the effect that it’s having on her seven years later, on her relationships, her ability to mother and enjoy life is so disproportionate to the actual act. I don’t understand why people today can’t box things up and shove them to the back, dark corner of their mind and get on with life. I saw “P.S. I Love You” recently, where the main character shuts down for months after her husband died. And I’ve seen that happen in person with members of the newer generations. The inability to move forward. Contrasted to a good friend of mine who was in his 60s and passed away this last month. His wife and kids are so strong and resilient. Doesn’t mean they loved him any less, or hurt any less, but they’re able to cope and move forward.
I’m sure the military had something to do with my mental state. And it’s been argued that maybe I’m TOO out of touch with my emotions. In the past I’ve said that Americans today have a lack of adversity in their lives that’s both comical and scary. I’m sure that lack of adversity plays a part in this. When I go back through my family tree I see families that had 8 kids and if they were lucky two or three survived past 18. We can’t fathom that today in the U.S. Something bad happens and we look for a reason, and a way to place blame, and a way to fix it and keep it from happening again. We cry about “fair” and have completely bought into the “All men are created equal” myth. I look at the response to recent shootings. The rush to ban guns, the rush to get more treatment for the mentally ill. Not in well thought out ways, but as a knee-jerk reaction. But if we could magically *poof* get rid of every gun in the U.S. today there would still be massacres. What will the response be then? How will people react? What will be the next un thought out response? At some point, that acceptance that there are too many uncontrollable, unpredictable variables in life has to settle in doesn’t it? And again, I’m not advocating complacency. We should make it harder for crazies to murder our kids. Or diseases to kill us. Or people to break our hearts or steal from us or whatever, but at some point we also have to realize what we’re sacrificing in these endeavors and the control we’re allowing this fear of evil to have in our lives.
There’s a truism in the world of executive protection. If the right someone wants to kill the person you’re protecting badly enough, they’re going to do it, no matter how good you are, the resources you have or how lucky you are. When 9/11 happened there were so many people who were shocked and surprised and who today are still dealing with the emotional fear that was caused by that. And then there was a segment of the population that was more stunned by the fact that anyone was surprised by it. They weren’t insensitive to the loss and pain, they just knew it was inevitable. And they (myself included) know it’s just a matter of time before something like that happens again.
I don’t think this belief is dark or cynical. I don’t think it’s limiting. I actually think it’s liberating, but who knows. Maybe that’s just the knuckle dragger speaking. But it lets me get on with the enjoyment of my life faster so I’ll take it.