Posting this comment from Liberal Librarian. I have nothing to add to this brilliance.
This is a diary of faith.
I can’t say that I’ve ever been much of a person of faith. Sure, as a child I went to church and mouthed the usual Catholic professions, but deep down I never really believed them. By the time I was 14 and in high school, it was left up to me whether or not I’d go to church, and I quickly decided that sleeping in was a much more preferable way to spend my Sunday mornings than going to a church that had no meaning for me. While in part that was a decision borne out of pure teenage laziness, in part it was also an acknowledgment that I no longer believed.
Once I no longer believed in God, it was much easier to not believe in many things — but mostly in the capacity for goodness of my fellow human beings. If it was difficult to believe in an invisible God who seemed to have no impact on the world’s daily turning, it was even harder to believe in my fellow humans, when their failings were there, glaring, staring me in the face every day — the pettiness, the smallness, the greed, the general selfishness. Through most of my twenties I was rather jaundiced and nihilistic; I was cynical because cynicism seemed to be the only valid response to a world in which it appeared that one prospered only by doing what was expedient, not what was right. I was definitely a child of Reagan, but rather than adulating him he made me despise the world that he brought forth.
This isn’t to say I had faith in nothing; I had faith in my family, which was always borne out by results; and I had faith, mostly, in friends, although in my life most of my friendships have been for a season, not forever. But faith in some grand overarching ideal? No, none of that.
Then I started to change my life, bit by bit, deciding that continuing in the unhappy groove I was in would lead only to ruin. I came across a doctor who was conducting experimental drug therapy for stuttering, and contacted him, and I’ve been on the drugs and fluent ever since then. I went to grad school, got my library degree, and wound up in a job that I love, more than any job I’ve ever had — which isn’t hard, since before I became a librarian I pretty much hated all my previous jobs. I had, at last, found faith in myself, however haltingly it came about.
And then there came Barack Obama. I have to admit, I was an early Edwards supporter. I liked his rhetoric, and his championing of the poor. He was telegenic and had a good backstory and I thought he would make the best candidate to move us away from the Bush regime. I knew nothing about Obama, and thought the country would vote in a white woman as President before it would a black man.
But Edwards never went anywhere, and Hilary carried the taint of too many disappointments for me. And then this man, Obama, came out of nowhere, and started winning. And I started listening to his message. It was a message of faith — not in him, never in him, but in ourselves, in what we can do when we band together and say “This is what we want”. That’s what his opponents fail to realize: we follow him and support him because in doing so we’re following and supporting ourselves. We see that we’re innately decent, that we want what’s best for ourselves and our fellow human beings, that we want to make a world that’s more fair and just for us and for those that come after us. He makes us see that we are basically good — not, as I thought in my younger years, basically selfish and small, but large, encompassing endless possibilities. He’s not the Messiah; but he allows us to see that the universe is within us. And he gives us that word, “faith”, that we can, through our actions, make the world better, more fair, more just, and that we’re in the majority, not those who say “we can’t”, or “we shouldn’t”, or “we won’t”.
So, in the beginning of my middle age, I have faith again. I still don’t have faith in God — but as I told one of my patrons yesterday with whom I discuss religion, I’m a “hopeful agnostic”. But, even after the events of the past two days, I have faith in many — perhaps the majority — of my fellow citizens. And I believe the faith is not misplaced.