Jun 132012
 June 13, 2012  Posted by at 12:17 am Earth

I’m using this commentary to ruminate on a thought-provoking statement written by TAE reader alfbell and re-posted to the comment forum by reader Candace:

alfbell says…

“No system will ever be successful until the human mind, and the spiritual being that utilized it, have been isolated and fully understood. Psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, et al. have failed in this area as well. Very too bad because THIS is the key to man’s future survival.


Find the source of evil and destructive intentions; the need to dominate; the need to destroy what another creates; man’s inhumanity to man; man’s illogic; man’s low level of morality; man’s “animalistic” tendencies; man’s inability to predict consequences; etc. and you will save mankind.”

There are generally 3 types of “Doomers”, or realistic thinkers, out there:

1) Those who believe humanity is doomed to extinction or near-extinction no matter what we do at this point in time.

2) Those who believe humanity is probably doomed to extinction or near-extinction, but there is a slim chance we can avoid such a fate if the appropriate measures are taken and all the stars align in the right places.

3) Those who have FAITH that significant portions of humanity will make it through its numerous trials in the near future, difficult and painful as they may turn out to be.

I generally fall somewhere between #2 and #3 right now, but I can say with confidence that I rely on faith to instruct my beliefs. What is faith?? Most people consider faith a part of spirituality – i.e. a fundamental belief that human individuals and societies can overcome their inherent tendency towards committing “evil” acts and avoid their experiences of mortal suffering.

All major religions today incorporate the two components of this belief into their spiritual teachings – that 1) humans are inherently prone to sinfulness and suffering (we are born slaves to our sin and mortality), and that 2) humans can ultimately avoid those things by following specific paths (we can break the chains of our slavery).

I find a lot of value in that belief, but I disagree with many people about how to acquire the faith necessary to get on the proper path to changing oneself and, PERHAPS, the course of humanity. A lot of people will try to tell you that faith is an irrational, illogical and emotional drive – that it cannot be derived from the rational (or scientific) mind. This view is best summed up by the following quote:

“If you love [have faith in] something, let it go – if it comes back to you, it is yours forever, if it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be”.

I prefer the exact opposite version:

“If you have faith in [love] something, hold on to it with whatever cognitive ability and emotional strength you can muster – if it still manages to escape you after that, then run after it and try to get it back”.

As you may have guessed, my version is not the EASY one to follow. It is not even the one I practice in most aspects of my own life, because I find it much too difficult. Yet, it is still what I believe to be true. Faith is not about a care-free attitude or an unquestioning, dogmatic belief in certain laws or truths. It is about time, effort, logic, critical examination, emotional stability, and, ultimately, free will. If you want to have faith in the survival of humanity through these trying times, you must be dilligently intent on acquiring it through your thoughts and actions.

Faith in humanity is not about perfection – humans will never become perfect beings. What we can become, though, is free from our desires to destroy ourselves and others around us through our actions and addictions – our seemingly limitless capacity to, as alfbell puts it, destroy what others create; to be inhumane towards others. Once those desires are squashed, it is quite irrelevant whether we stumble and fall once in awhile (we most certainly will), because we will be eternally capable of picking ourselves up.

Candace asks…

“What I’m trying to figure out is if we all fail to be our best selves at least some of the time, are there any structures we can impose on ourselves that will at least keep us from causing massive damage to ourselves and the planet?”



Yes, but these structures will not be any economic, political, religious or legal systems, or even Divine commandments handed down from a Supreme God. They will literally be our conscious, rational, freely-made decisions to have faith in ourselves and humanity. Once we choose to unshackle ourselves from the chains of our addictions, i.e. once we make firm commitments to strive towards the better angels of our nature – to constantly desire something more sustainable in our minds – the self-destructive materialism that currently inhabits humanity will no longer dominate its future potential.

Those are my ruminations on faith and humanity – what are yours?

Home Forums Ruminations: Faith and Humanity

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    Capitalism is a Faith-Based system.

    A Promissory note is the promise to pay. And with fiat not tied to gold or anything at all there is actually nothing being promised to pay. Now if that doesn’t require faith in the system then I don’t know what does.

    The system requires this faith. If I loose my job. I have to go and get another one to get money. The system does not include me growing food to feed myself. It does not include me as an independent agent of my own destiny. So, my destiny is wrapped up in the dreams and nightmares of the system. I need to concern myself with the health of the market and what direction the arrow is going (up or down). The markets are variously: sluggish, tentative, euphoric, despondent, upbeat, surging, on a tear, fearful, blah blah blah. This emotional roller-coaster requires that I ‘Buy and hold’, ‘stay the course’ ‘be rational’. But the main thing is that I have faith that the whole thing goes up. And that my faith remains unshaken.

    After one hundred years of oil powered industrialization I think a couple of generations just don’t think about faith. If it happens that they do, it comes as a creeping shock to their system and they turn away in denial. Sort of like when you’re driving down a two lane highway and as the cars on the other side of the road wizz past you ask yourself: “What keeps them on the other side of the road?”. The line. An illusion of safety.

    And we love the illusions we’ve been sold, despite the cost. Look at all the combustion engines that are used to power the dream. Having spent a weekend in the country, I noticed that the number of engines in use for the average family is simply staggering. Everyone drives a Ford F150 (8 cylinders), has an ‘office managers tractor’- lawn mower (4-cylinders), a fishing boat (4-6 cylinders), a couple a ATVs (more cylinders), snow mobiles (same and more), It goes on and on. You have to drive everywhere , so everyone is overweight. The young people have to walk on the shoulder of the road, so they are in better shape… till they get a car… or get hit by one. But all of this is taken for granted as part of the dream.


    I highly recommend Derrick Jensen’s latest book, “Dreams” in which he argues that not only is capitalism a faith-based system, but so is science which claims to be the enemy of religion. Moreover, spirituality of any kind is a faith-based process. Perhaps it is in the nature of being human that we are required to exercise some kind of faith at every turn. It is time that we stop making “faith” synonymous with “stupidity” and explore the notion that as Pascal said, “Faith has its reasons.”

    Bot Blogger

    drumbaker post=3703 wrote: Moreover, spirituality of any kind is a faith-based process. Perhaps it is in the nature of being human that we are required to exercise some kind of faith at every turn. It is time that we stop making “faith” synonymous with “stupidity” and explore the notion that as Pascal said, “Faith has its reasons.”

    Faith comes as a response to risk and the unknown. This is what insurance and the retirement plan are for. These are ponzi scheme’s selling assurance that you’re taken care of. At 65 you get to claim that pension because we said so. Oh, what’s that you say? People only live to 72 years on average. Strange how that works out. What? The pensions are bankrupt!!! So you won’t get to live out your final days in a holding tank for the elderly. Sad.

    We are so cut off from our intuition which would lead us to reason differently that we are reliant on faith for everything. “There’ll be pie in the sky when you die, that’s a lie”, my grandpa used to sing.


    I am not suggesting “relying on faith for everything.” Furthermore, I’m suggesting that intuition is PART OF FAITH, that is to say, part of all things “uncertain” according to the pundits of religion and science who BOTH rely on faith to “prove” things that no one can be certain about. The challenge is how to navigate a collapsing world where the only thing we can rely on is uncertainty, using intuition and other right brain options.

    Bot Blogger

    Intuition is part of experience, not faith. That is what makes it different from instinct. Faith is what you go on when you have no experience.


    Alas, I disagree. Intuition CAN be part of experience, but sometimes we follow our intuition for no good reason. Perhaps on a conscious or unconscious level we have “faith” in our intuition as well as memory of a plethora of experiences where it worked for us, but every time we use it, because it is impossible to “prove” the outcome of it—because we do not know if it will lead to a better or worse outcome, we take some leap of faith, regardless of how small it may be.

    What I am trying to do here is separate “faith” from religion or spirituality and notice it as part of the human psyche and the human condition. Again, I encourage everyone to read Derrick Jensen’s new book, “Dreams” where he travels deeply into the notion of faith as something separate from “belief” in religion or dogma. What I am also trying to do is emphasize how phenomenally uncertain we can be about much of anything that happens in collapse. We can conjecture, and much of our conjecturing can be dead-on, but we absolutely cannot KNOW much of anything about how it will turn out. Our best preparation will be preparation for uncertainty, and with uncertainty comes a lot of doubt, needing to rely on intuition—and invariably, inexorably some moments, however brief they may be, of faith. By the way, faith can also be about faith in oneself, as well as faith relating to anything outside oneself.

    Bot Blogger

    I was saddened to read of your disagreement.

    We are talking about the same things. But as with all subjects that get dissected more and more finely, eventually scalpels cross.

    Here’s where we agree:

    We don’t know the future.
    Faith is involved in getting up in the morning.
    Faith is connected to everything we do as humans.
    Uncertainty leads to doubt.

    Here are my quibbles:

    Lumping science in with religion under the banner of faith is a bit rough in my estimation. Long ago it was deemed appropriate that science would diverge from the study of interior perception and exclusively focus on exterior measurable results. Science actively maintains a peer reviewed body of agreed upon knowledge or provable experience. The repeatability of scientific experiments is what makes it not faith based. Is it imperfect? Yes of course but the ideal is a mechanism which makes all claims of knowledge assailable. It’s the best we can do at this point and I hold it sacred, because it gives me…faith.

    Right brain left brain schisms are like right/left politics. Artsies use pro right-brain arguments to justify their weaknesses in math and logic. Left brainy people dismiss right brainies as flakes. I’m left right agnostic.

    I trust experience over reading any book. Though I’ll take your suggestion and have a look….smiley face.

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