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Having faith

Much like hope, we all need faith in something to continue forward when things do not work out well. Faith is a vision of how we see the world and the role we play in it. Faith is not just a religious concept; it is a very practical concept. We have faith in ourselves to persevere, in our friends to support us, in the sun to come up every day.

At this time, in this nation we live in, we are at a crossroads of faith. Shall we continue with the "faith of our fathers" in democracy and its beliefs in citizenship as the great equalizer, community as the glue that holds us together for common purpose, and fairness, justice and equality as the foundation of a compassionate and workable society?

Or, shall we choose wealth and property. The original phrase about inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence was almost "life, liberty and the pursuit of property" but they saw the danger in that and changed "property" to "happiness".

There are no religious or political ideologies that value a cohesive society and then place property and wealth as a higher priority than people. From the Bible we hear the admonition "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" as well as identifying the serious problems connected with choosing to serve Mammon.

But today, we are told again and again that wealth and profit are the only real measures of value and successful policy. So much of our core social functions are now driven not by a sense of community or civic duty or responsibility, but by profit. These include health care, the military, education, the prison system, the media and even the justice system where large corporations and financial behemoths operate outside the law too big to fail or jail.

We have shifted to a system where power of any kind is too often seen as an opportunity for abuse and self-aggrandizement; where those on the bottom are abused or ignored in a new kind of Nixonian "benign neglect"; where we subsidize the rich and turn our backs on the poor and those in need; where money controls the government and policy decisions; where power is used to institutionalize corruption and abuse; where surveillance, secrecy and manipulation of information have become the norm; where the process of voting, the very heart of democracy, is being manipulated to disenfranchise so many of our citizens; where the power of the security complex and law enforcement is often used as a blunt weapon to intimidate, enforce conformity and reduce dissent; where we now have detention centers for children coming across our borders; where the abuse and destruction of the environment is secondary to private profit.

That is not a system I can build any faith on for a sustainable or human future. Give me that old-time civic religion of a real democracy where everyone can flourish with a sense of dignity, where we, once again have common goals as a community and as citizens and that allows individual beliefs to reside within that framework.

I want to tell everyone to have faith. But at this time, if we want to preserve that vision of democracy in which we, up to now, had placed so much faith; and if we want it to survive, we need to stand up and speak truth to power, to put ourselves on the line and act on that faith. Only in that way will we preserve a human future for ourselves, our children and for the generations to come.