Thoughts on faith and cynicism…
The journey of Lent is a journey of forty days. It is after all modeled after Jesus and his time in the wilderness. In the famous temptations of turning rocks into bread, doing a swan dive from the pinnacle of the temple and excepting Satan’s offer to rule the world he doesn’t give in and for our sake, never gives up on who he is and what he must do. Isn’t that the issue that surrounds Lent? Are we going to give up on ourselves, let alone our confidence and faith in God? This is always the haunting temptation that Jesus faced and we face ourselves. Do I become apathetic and cynical? After all, being a person of faith in this world is an uphill battle all the way. You can always hear the voice saying, “let go of it – it’s not worth it – what’s in it for you really?” In a larger way, the question always come into your mind that asks, “do you really think you can make a difference in this world? Do you really think that your actions can change things?” The tempter’s voice always find it’s way into your ears with the words, “forget it, it’s too much, it won’t work, it will never happen, WHY BOTHER.”
For example, when you look at our world and what is taking place – as I write this we are bombing Libya and are watching traces of radiation being detected in Massachusetts. The nuclear reactors in Japan are still cause for great concern as radiation is being released into our oceans as very brave men try to work towards preventing a total nuclear meltdown in three plants. As I read the papers, I see the huge controversy taking place in Wisconsin and of course the issue of our own country let alone all of our states trying to balance their budgets with huge cutbacks. When you look forward you sometimes wonder where to begin or why bother?
The why bother part is I think a big part of the malazes that we face. I am just going to think about myself and try to survive. Many people are simply trying to build a wall around their own little world and live in a cocoon. This is a very cynical outlook and breeds apathy. On one level it looks like there are a lot of lost causes out there so why bother trying to change things? Of course I’m used to lost causes because I’m always trying to push them even though the odds are not always in my favor and the outlook sometimes looks dim. Cynicism is always biting at my heels.
Thankfully I am a person of faith and here again, many people would say to me “why bother” because it seems like Christianity is losing ground in our secular world! But faith while it needs doubt to make it really faith is the opposite of cynicism. Faith is about hope, about energy, about conviction and about believing that things can change for the better.
Sometimes when you are in the middle of a mess, it looks dark and hopeless but through vigilant efforts things change. For example, I never thought that I would ever see in my lifetime the Berlin Wall coming down. I wondered about the AIDS/HIV epidemic in Africa, but when I came to a village in Zambia and listened to one of it’s female leaders who shared what was happening in that village to fight against the AIDS/HIV epidemic, I was encouraged that maybe the African continent might someday be free of this surge.
The world is turning and spinning faster than I can imagine. The internet, Facebook and Twitter are remarkable ways to communicate. They have help spurn revolutions all through the Middle East. Egypt has fallen, Tunisia as well and without being too overly optimistic, Libya will too. I don’t want to look to the past for direction and I don’t want to live in the past. The only way to look is forward.
Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report said this: “cynicism is a self imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid that it will hurt or disappoint us.” Just another way of saying that I am not going to do anything because I am afraid of failure and rejection. That is not what faith is all about. That is not what the resurrection of our Lord is all about. In fact it is the opposite because it is the hope for a new day, a new and transformed life and for eternal life. We can’t get lost in Lent, but must realize it leads us to Holy Week, Good Friday and finally Easter and the resurrection.