Secular Morality and the Strive for Faith in Others

ALL right, all right. And so: Here we are.

When I was last active on this site roughly a year or so ago, I had recently denounced my Catholic faith in the spirit of teenage angst/bitter confusion. I was scared, pissed off, and disillusioned; moreover, I had basically become a cynical douche who thought he was somehow more inept to attaining knowledge of “the inner-workings of the universe” only because I had been forced to deal with several untimely deaths in my family/friend circle o’ peers.

Death sucks.

And not surprisingly, as the past year has progressed while I’ve tried keeping up with it, I’ve only had more strange life changes/altercations to deal with. More problems to overcome, more faces to encounter, more faith-shattering, ball-bustingesque scenarios. To deal with all of this “shit,” I dug a hole in myself, and only continued to bury my mind and emotions under books that I thought might hold answers. Novels, philosophy, theology, sociology: whatever.

Finally, after digging through works by guys like Camus, Sarte, Kafka, and others, and after having an awkward phase where Sylvia Plath was my favorite poet (yeah dude, it got that sad haha), one of my oldest friends turned me on to two works that shifted my mindset and got me moving on a more optimistic path in the ongoing quest for serenity in the midst of this world’s penetrating, brain-soaking madness.

Those works are: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.

Honestly, it’s works like these that give me hope. As I’ve continued on my journey, the sanctity of childhood, with its innocence, not-yet-perversed sense of empathy, and mindless honesty, has had me reconsidering my position within this world in terms of inter-personal relationships, environmental stewardship, and personal well-being.

How can we define what it means to be “OK” or, even more strenuously, “happy?”

In any event, the discussion I’m hoping to open up with this post is one concerning faith and morality in our modern, arguably skewed society.

What does it mean to have faith in others? Does that start with faith in the self?

Is empathy enough to guide morality? What forces drive apathy in our modern global sphere?

I have a few thoughts, but please, SHARE YOURS!

Happy Monday, yinz.

Views: 161

Comment by Ray R. on March 11, 2013 at 3:24pm
As Hitchens stated , " Faith is the least admirable of the virtues ".
Comment by Roman Candles on March 11, 2013 at 3:59pm
But as Fitzgerald says (through the character of Nick Carraway) in The Great Gatsby "Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known."

In regards to your Hitchens quote, I'd make the claim that faith in other people is the most admirable of the virtues. I'd go as far as to say that dishonesty, starting with the self and matriculating outwards, is the largest roadblock facing humans on the path to a peaceful existence. How can we have mutual trust without some sort of code for honesty based largely on the principle of faith? Faith implies a mutual, co-signage of sorts, in my mind. What I mean is here is that whenever one believes in a "God," their simultaneously adhering to the belief that their "God" believes in them. See what I'm trying to get at here? This functions everyday on the interpersonal level. Faith in others, brother. Empathy at its finest.
Comment by michaelmichaelmotorcycle on March 12, 2013 at 9:21pm

Hey Roman, though I havent read any of those authors or books except some myths of sisyphus and the Great Gatsby I have my own beliefs that align with what you have said here. Ill start at the denial, which lives in apathy. A lack of care for others is a reflection of the denial of self. You can see it out of your eyes if you accept the invitation. Empathy is a good intention and is good, the reflection would then be someone who loves others, though in drastic ways sometimes, but until they can truly love, accept and forgive themselves then they will never understand how to give love. This is my belief as I went through it and that there is a path, it is not my own it is every human being who has contributed to the word and meaning of any associated words. Their lives have given meaning and this meaning can be found, to have a true purpose and get down to what we truly want we must rid ourselves of fear through the most fundamental route. We say apathy we say selfish we say empathy we say selflessness. This relationship is in our evolution, the subconscious, and as we plunge into the chaos from our mother and father we nevertheless lose ourselves in others, trying to compensate for the chaotic, frustrating as hell world. 

When we lose our fear we can only be free, until we can be free with others me must be free with ourselves. Anything other than freedom is a betrayal of self because we can be jesus christ or the antichrist. To wrap up what I am saying is that until everyone connects the dots and traces the pattern of our most revered and unrevered stories then faith in themselves will be the only true, honest way to have faith in others and to be considered moral, a good anything any religion. This pursuit of happyness is freeing the sun from the dark, nighttime moon.

Comment by Roman Candles on March 13, 2013 at 1:22pm
Hey Mike,

I like what you're saying here, and I mostly agree. I guess my only questions stem from noting your tone throughout your response, as well as your use of "person."

From what I'm gathering, it seems like you've gone through some sort of life struggle that helped you understand empathy... is that close-ish? Ballpark, maybe? If not, was there one specific occurrence in your life that made you reconsider your definition of empathy? Also, are you saying that if one lacks an understanding of empathy, they're inherently bad? You alternate between using "their lives" and the collective "we." In your eyes, is the quest for empathy one we can understand on our own, or is it something that must be achieved either through or with others?
Comment by michaelmichaelmotorcycle on March 13, 2013 at 1:34pm

Ya struggle, no its all all right they are not bad, just confused with who they are. Ya im bad with person sorry, the venture of empathy or friendliness achieves the through others idea, the intentions, and until people are ok with who they are they cannot fully understand empathy as there is a direct relation between empathy and force and how those two fight one another in determining the outcome of our actions in the universe. does this make sense? and to you Roman Candles, whats the most simple lesson to be learned in your opinion

Comment by Roman Candles on March 13, 2013 at 1:51pm
Ok, I think I understand a bit more clearly what you're trying to say here.

I agree that empathy can only truly be understood after self acceptance, and going back to your other comment, I think the whole Oedipal "Kill your Father" thing can be tied in quite nicely here to a fundamental principle of Christianity. In one of Paul's letters to some group of people (the specifics are, not surprisingly, falling short in my mind), he says something along the lines of "you must accept the father to accept the son."

Of course, while the Catholic faith I was raised with basically discourages subjective interpretations, one could easily apply this to what you're saying. To me, "accepting the father" can be thought of as accepting the unknown, the forces at be, the past that we cannot change, etc. Whether our "father" lies in deconstructing/understanding our past, or in simply having the courage to reach out to others (baring in mind, of course, the fear of rejection that is never easy to overcome). Either way, the message is basically the same. To accept that there are things we cannot change in the universe, things that we basically just have to "go" with, is totally necessary before one can accept the "son" or the "self." I believe we are all sons and daughters of this earth, and are therefore partly responsible for seeing to its care taking. Empathy is necessary for stewardship, whether it be environmental, care taking of family members, or simply the courtesy to help out random strangers we see having a hard time on the street. Does that make sense?

To respond to your final question, I think the most simple/vital lesson to learn is that life does not automatically come with a "meaning," but! It is still sacred in the sense that it's our "one shot," so far as we know. It's important to consider a day in terms of moments and interactions, not minutes and hours. Does that answer your question?
Comment by Roman Candles on March 13, 2013 at 1:55pm
Also! Do you think we're born with an understanding for empathy?
Comment by michaelmichaelmotorcycle on March 13, 2013 at 2:42pm

Absolutely Roman Candles glad you posted this, enjoy ur day 


Comment by michaelmichaelmotorcycle on March 13, 2013 at 2:43pm

yes but it doesnt last very long

Comment by Jackson Rogers on March 13, 2013 at 3:31pm
That's what the problem is though. It's hard to love yourself, especially if you haven't had much success in dating. It shouldn't be that way but it's hard to deny that's how it works. No woman no pride, dig?


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