Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Believe

Some of the things I believe I know better than to believe. I know, I’m a big self-contradiction. I am well past the point of believing something just because that was the way I was brought up. At my age I have brought up myself for decades. Still, in the long haul, there are beliefs that I am still attached to, and even though they fail the test of logic, clear observation, or the scientific method, they still seem right to me. I can’t help it … not yet.

I do not believe in God or gods anymore. I do not believe in an afterlife. I do not believe that capitalism is the sanest approach to assigning value to life’s necessities or luxuries, human life, and work. I do not despise these beliefs. I have simply found that I have no use for them. Besides, nothing in my heart misses them now that they are gone.

I believe that things are pretty much as they appear to be, not necessarily at first or second glance, but as they appear under careful observation, over time, with attention to often overlooked details.

I believe that things will work themselves out until they no longer work out, with little regard to planning or effort. Not to say that planning and effort are altogether useless, but let’s say rather that their powers to effect desired results have been overestimated. I tend to “consider the lilies, how they grow,” and believe that worrying never added an inch to anyone’s height or a day to anyone’s life. I believe that last week’s desired results all too often become this week’s heartaches … or pain in the ass.

I believe that many things are more important than being right. I would rather be dead wrong every day of my life than to live without joy, adventure, lust, freedom, or courage. These things have everything to do with each other and nothing to do with righteousness.

I believe that the great lesson of life is to learn to help and to receive help with a modicum of grace, humility, and good humor. I believe in generosity. I believe in exuberance. I believe when we give we should give prodigiously—not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing. I do not believe in calculated charity, and I do not believe that charity is just good business. I believe we should not keep tabs on such things at all—we should forgive those who owe us, as we would hope to be forgiven by those we owe. (As I have said elsewhere, the Sermon on the Mount is, on the whole, the one vestige of Christianity I still cling to, especially since Christianity today has so little use for it.)

I believe in friendship. I believe in beauty. I believe in the senses. I believe in the ways that animals and artists keep a constant eye out on the world … while the gods apparently sleep. I believe in basic human decency, too.

What you believe has little to do with what you can know or prove. A belief is something you need to get along. Not everything that you can believe ought to be believed, of course. I’m all for abandoning washed-up beliefs. I believe there is a time to throw out every belief that no longer props you up.

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