Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Keeping The Faith (Believing In What We Cannot See)

So who would know that a television show could teach you a little something about life? Not that I am saying that they cannot, but let’s face it, most shows today are filled with ill mannered housewives, foul mouth animated toddlers, and soap operas about beautiful women wielding off scandals while humping heads of state. Good old wholesome American entertainment right? With so much excitement going on, there’s no wonder there’s little room for real time epiphany about the human condition.

Well this moment of truth happened briefly for me during a scene of the critically acclaimed ABC television series "Grey's Anatomy". Ok, in an effort to avoid hordes of pitchfork wielding fans surrounding my home with torches at the ready, I will try to get the names of characters and situations of the show correct. As of late I have been a slave to documentaries following the exploits of the Chupacabra rather than keep up with the trials and tribulations of the residents of Seattle Grace since Izzie died. Yes, I am bitter about Izzie.

So tonight I tuned in just in time for a heated argument between April Kepner (Sarah Drew) and Jackson Avery (Jessie Williams). During the climax of the argument, Jackson bellows at April that he not only felt that April’s Faith in Jesus was misguided but to him silly. He asserts to her that he believes in medical science and not something he views as not real. A stunned April in turn tells him that she feels sorrow for him. After questioning her if she felt pity for him, she admitted that she did. She felt sorrow for Jackson because he could not believe in anything that he could see.

Ok, now one would probably surmise this isn’t a very big deal. It is a very big deal. Can you imagine a world devoid of faith? Really, just sit back and think about how faith has played a major part in the human condition and where we would be if this simple and often misunderstood concept was left out of the equation of human development. Most of what we take for granted today probably would not be in existence.

For example, let’s say Henry Ford lacked faith in the fact that he could not only produce automobiles, but revolutionize the engines in which to run them. Sure we may have eventually had the automobile as a staple of American life but not in the explosive way it did happen. Because Ford ignored the closed doors and the obstacles he faced making his dream come true, he changed the very face and landscape of the nation. He cheaply massed produced the automobile, which in turn made them affordable to the everyday American, which in turn changed the very infrastructure of the country. You need roads to drive the cars on right? Roads gave way to the expansive highway system as more goods were moved from market to market via an automobile of some type. You see where I’m going? Henry Ford could have easily given up, but his determination fueled by his faith allowed him to persevere. His perseverance caused a ripple effect that changed not only his life but the lives of future generations to come.

The same could be said by two other innovators. What if Lewis Latimer or Garrett Morgan lacked faith in their dreams or abilities? In their time, racial discrimination wasn’t only rampant and unrepentant it was ingrained in the legal doctrine of law. American society not only told them what they could not, but what they should not aspire to strive to be. These men had faith and determination of otherwise. If Latimer had not, Alexander Bell may not have been first to submit his patent for the telephone, thus making the world smaller and revolutionizing the way we communicate and disseminate information. Latimer’s invention of a method of making carbon filaments for electric incandescent lamps and his work with Thomas Edison paved the way for electricity to literally power the world. If Morgan had forgone his faith, the gas mask would never have played a pivotal role in World War I and millions of more lives may have been lost. The rise of the automobile was followed by auto accidents and fatalities. Morgan's invention of the traffic signal helped to save many more lives there.

These are just three examples out of our recent past, but the influence of faith is as innumerable as the souls that have walked the earth. That’s just the point. Everyone, who has ever strived to achieve something, to do what others have said was impossible, had to rely on faith, whether on themselves or a higher power, to get them through.

Ahh! So finally I brought God into it, right? Well of course there is the faith with a capital “F”. Let’s face it; since man looked up at the stars or even studied a leaf that has fallen from a tree, there has always been the question of how we got here and who made us. The concept of God explains that which we cannot understand and also that which we cannot see. The whole concept of God or gods is totally dependent on the notion of Faith, or believing in that which you cannot see. 

This is the context of faith when April meant when she confronted Jackson about his apparent disregard in her beliefs. She pitied him because he could not believe in anything that he could not see. Religion was on the surface of the argument but her statement cut much deeper. Jackson had tunnel vision on the tangible which manifested itself in his belief in medical science. It was a routine phenomenon he saw every day when a patient came in for care, when someone was on the operating table, or had their blood drawn for tests. It was something he understood because it was in the physical and the laws were tangible. If a surgeon performed a particular procedure then the expectancy rate of success was x, y, or z. He didn’t see it as a result in the prayers to an Almighty being dwelling in the ethos, but as a set of laws of cause and effect one can reasonably ascertain from past experiences. He believed in only what he could see and the results of that.

Unbeknownst to Jackson, but for him, it goes a little deeper. Let’s for an instance take God out of the equation. The fact that he could not believe in anything he could not see is still a dangerous precedent. On some level everyone believes in something they cannot see. You cannot see the wind but you see and feel its effects. Not a good example? Well how about we can physically see other worlds with telescopes and other technology. What we haven’t seen is life on any planet other than our own. We have never seen aliens, or most of us haven’t, and for all we know Earth may hold the only life in the universe. However, there is curiosity that maybe there is. That curiosity over time for many has changed to faith that there is. This faith along with the faith in our ability to build ships and develop new technologies to reach these planets is driving the modern space race. These new missions to reach these near and distant planets will one day answer the quintessential question, are we really alone?

So here’s my point in a long nutshell. You may not believe in Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Shiva, Buddha, or whatever higher power ever known to mankind. As with Jackson, you may not be able to believe in that in which you cannot see. The thing is, if we can only see what’s ahead of us, we would never move beyond our current conditions. If we believe there is nothing out there, we would not be inspired to find out. We would not grow, there wouldn’t be any progress, and we would not fulfill our full potential. Faith, in whatever its form, plays a pivotal role in our existence and in our future. Faith is the essence that fuels our dreams. Myopic sight destroys vision.

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