Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Doubt as an Element of Faith

I remember talking to a friend in California who had lost touch with his faith in 2007. I remember him telling me about how he doesn't believe in his religion anymore. Although, when he was a lot younger, he used to be almost fanatical about Catholicism. 

I remember, how, as a child, I attended church camps, and one of the visiting priests had, during one Q&A session about our faith, discuss the mysteries of the church, and encouraged us to keep questioning ourselves, because that is the only way to lead us to the truth. It keeps us from getting complacent about our faith. And to avoid taking it for granted.

I remember how, at 16, my father insisted I tutored under a good old La Sallian brother, and how he had encouraged my writing, and allowed me to borrow from his personal library for free, with only one condition, to return them once I was done. And how, he too, indirectly, had encouraged me to learn by questioning.

WHY. Out of the 4W1H, it is the most important question. What Where When Why How. Why is always the most difficult to answer. Yet the most important. Because as what I had learnt from Psychology and Sociology in university, what motivates people is always the most elusive, and the most difficult to understand.

It requires you to get into the person's head, and into the person's shoes, and attempt walking a thousand steps in his shoes to attempt to glean even the most little understanding of what motivates him. And that is usually the most incomprehensible of all. People, in general, hate someone else questioning their motives. Common questions would be:

1. Don't you trust me?
2. Why must you know?
3. Isn't faith enough?
4. Why do you doubt me so?
5. Have a little faith in me, will you?

What most people fail to understand is that trying to find out the motivations of another person is always more painful than accepting the person at face value. It takes more effort. More tears. Because it means delving deeper than what is at the surface, than what is comfortable. What is readily shown to the rest of the world. People generally shy away from what appear to be painful or difficult, and uncomfortable, especially in today's era of self-gratification. No one wants to look like the bad guy.

It is always easier to accept when a person says: I'm like this. I'm just always bad-tempered. 

It's easier to accept that response and just stay at arm's length.

It's harder to ask: 'Why is he bad-tempered?' And to attempt finding out why and risking losing the person's friendship/ risking being yelled at/ etc.

Only if one perseveres, does a person find out that: Oh, he has an illness. He is constantly haemorrhaging. It leaves him tired and ill-tempered all the time. He needs help. He needs understanding.

It just goes to show how the extra effort that was being made can help spur understanding and forge a deeper relationship. How a little doubt can become an element of a deeper faith. The faith being the general goodness of people. That normally people do have a good reason when they're upset.

And yes, the above was a true example.

Like religion, accepting the general misconception that Catholics worship the Mother Mary, could have stopped me from finding out and having a deeper faith. And that doubt in said worship spurred me on to discover that it was not a worship, but a respect for her that started the Hail Marys. That the prayer was not one of worship, but of intercession. It meant: Intercede for me in my prayer to your Son. Help me bring my message to your Son, and to His Holy Father.

I don't claim to know everything about my religion. I'm just a baby in that aspect. But learning through questioning my faith, is a good start to keep me from being lazy.

Like every other aspects of my life, the question WHY has spurred me to greater heights than every other question. Where, When, What, How is easily deduced from most scenarios. But the question WHY is what has spearheaded all the greatest inventions and discoveries of our time.

The greatest example perhaps being: Why does the apple fall straight to the ground from the tree? The discovery of Gravity by Sir Isaac Newton. Which spearheaded many many other great scientific discoveries of the 20th and 21st century. Including space exploration.

The question WHY is what opens up our minds to the bigger possibilities out there. Keeps us from being a lazy bum and generally accepting our lot in life. It spurred the Enlightenment and the Renaissance movement. It started many a Revolution all around the world. It got us out of the Dark Ages.

WHY. I was raised to question. I was trained to ask the question. As a child born to science teachers. As a trained microbiologist and partially trained sonographer. WHY was the most important question.

The cells are not growing. WHY.

The child in the womb has a collapsed lung. WHY.

The question WHY can save relationships and, on an even more important scale, save lives. It's a question I cannot ignore, even if someone close to me dislikes the question the most.

WHY should not be a question that is feared. But one that is respected and cherished as a means to enhance our relationships and our lives. Whether that be our relationship with our parents, our siblings, our friends, our loved ones, our colleagues, nature, or even God. 

It enriches us. Challenges us to be better people. Humbles us as we question OUR OWN motivations. Spurs us to greater heights. Holds us to the ground as much as it exalts us to the sky. Keeps us open to other possibilities. Retains our enthusiasm for the people around us and for life itself.

As President Barack Obama puts it in his speech at Notre Dame: But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager.

His speech was widely touted as one that redefined faith. Yet he wasn't the first man that had tried to tell the world this small kernel of wisdom. The priest at that church camp almost 15 years ago had said the same in less rhetoric terms. So did the good old La Sallian brother. So did Martin Luther, which sparked the revolution in the Catholic church, and sparked the Lutheran/ Presbysterian faith. It's one that wise men over the ages had tried to instill in a stubborn humanity.

But perhaps the radical young President's were the most rhetoric (as he is famous for), the most radical (for a country as secretly conservative, traditionalist, egotistical, selfish and narrow-minded as the United States of America) and the most unexpected. It was also perhaps, the most widely aired, and the most far-reaching, as most of the world is still running on the fever that is Obamamania. That may not be a bad thing. The young President may be shrewd and wise enough to utilise his high publicity to try and give the world a new perspective on the relationship between doubt and faith. And the great importance of the word WHY.

It may be what the US of A, and the rest of the world needs after all. Redefining Faith. Understanding the importance of the word WHY. Perhaps we would all start asking ourselves the most important question of all.

1. Why am I afraid?
2. Why am I behaving this way?
3. Why do I feel this way?
4. Why am I at this job?
5. Why am I with this person?
6. Why am I in this country?
7. Why am I limitting myself?
8. Why are we waging a war on terror?
9. Why do we call this the World Cup when it's only USA?
10. Why are we still polluting the earth?

and so it goes.

Doubt as an element of faith.... WHY do you think I am always questioning myself? And you?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Rule of Nemesis

If even lawyers are protesting against how the law is being conducted.... something is very very wrong...

Nemesis' hands would be running through the land and drawing blood... because justice must be meted out, and one cannot be up for too long.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And so it is

"It's peculiar and unnerving in a way to see so many young people walking around with cellphones and iPods in their ears and so wrapped up in media and video games. It robs them of their self-identity. It’s a shame to see them so tuned out to real life" — Bob Dylan to Rolling Stone

When we don't even know who we are, we wouldn't know where we are coming from or where we are going.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Perhaps there's hope yet.

The unexpected turn of events in the Land of the Pomelo and Pomelo Girls surprise me.

Which is worrisome, in a way. Have we come to such a low level of disconsolate apathy, despair and cynicism that when the law actually did the right thing, we're surprised?

It does shine a tiny sliver of hope, though... and given the recent events in the country, in my work, and in my life... a little bit of hope is much cause of rejoicing.

Although, at the back of my mind... as usual, out of sheer habit, is very, very wary.

And that's worrisome too... have I built such a wall around myself and my mind that I can't throw caution to the wind and rejoice with no-holds-barred?

I wish I were 16 again... and I could revel in such a manner.

Well, let's hope and pray for the state of the nation.

Things may get ugly henceforth.

Then again, nothing in life worth having comes easy.

Looking Glass

I bring it all to the arena - mud-slinging and all. You hide behind your pain and swipe when no one's looking.

We deal with conflict and communication differently.

Does that drive a wedge?

I can't promise that it's never gonna rain. I know for a fact that we would be getting typhoons and torrential downpours from time to time.

All I can promise is that if I'm committed, come hell or high water, I'll stand by you. Despite the typhoons. Despite the downpours. Despite the blazing heat.

My concern is whether you share the same level of commitment. Would you stay true, or would you run to others' waiting arms or have a Scott Summers - Emma Frost thing the moment the tide waters come crashing to the shore?

Because you know you wouldn't be able to live with that thought either.... knowing that you're dispensable to the one person that matters.

Between two people... all the pinnacles of your life matters more with the other person around. He's the person you want beside you when your dreams come true, he's the person you want to hold when the hopes come crashing down.

But when you see the expectations you share with him explodes in your face in smithereens... what then? 

And that's the million dollar question only you can answer.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Dying Embers

Dear Lily,

Show me how. Give me strength.

Because the blood is running cold. And the juice is running out. And time is against me.

And there's no one to turn to. Not anymore.

So help me if you can.