02 November 2009

What I didn't know - part 1

What I didn't know before I began this project:

-- Practicing a faith is as much about choosing a community as it is figuring out what you believe.

-- People raised in a faith rarely know why they do what they do. They just do it.

-- People who religiously practice a faith seem to find a comfortable way to navigate the schism between the way their faith tells them to interact with others and the way life actually unfolds, the way people should behave and the way they actually do.

-- It is very easy to use one's faith, the rites and rituals you are "supposed" to do, to feel bad a lot of the time for not "measuring up" to some ideal. My gut is that this is the source of a lot of the judgement of others' insufficiencies.

-- I have a lot of experience creating strife in my own life simply by thinking I know what the "right" answer is, or the "right" course of action. Get a group together, especially one trying to solve a problem, and my favorite defect appears in almost everyone.

I know that this sounds silly but, not having been raised in a faith, I just assumed that it would be different "there," in communities of the devout. It isn't....at least so far, partway along in this project's arc, whether it's people of a single faith who are trying to work together or interfaith organizations who want nothing more than to help and to understand each other. Is it any wonder people of faith are at odds with each other on a global level when in meetings everywhere, every day, we all suffer through all the ways in which we fail to work together in an open-hearted manner?

Or perhaps I'm completely misunderstanding what "getting along" looks like, what it feels like. I want no one to argue anywhere, ever. How idiotic is that? Perhaps the flip side -- of not expressing an opinion if it differs with someone to avoid an unpleasant conversation -- is just as destructive as imposing my "right" answer on everyone. I'm still very confused about all of this, but I cannot stifle my urge to run when discussions turn to community minutiae. I've gotten enough of that in the jobs I've had. My interest in what faith is and how it works in different religions was, I thought, completely unrelated to that. I'm beginning to think this is yet another misunderstanding I had before I began.

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