Faith in Humanity

by Belinda Munoz on February 23, 2012

How do you keep your faith in humanity intact?

Or is it already far from intact, tattered around the edges, threatening to shred beyond repair at the slightest tug?

Or maybe you’re the type who doesn’t mess around in murky, fast-moving waters, opting instead to keep both feet planted where the pool is clear, chlorinated and ankle-deep, leaving no chance of teetering off balance.

Unraveling threads? Contaminated river? Shallow pool?

Mixed metaphors seem appropriate when we talk about the acts of inhumanity we human beings commit or allow others to commit without consequence. From the Syrian slaughter that is getting a lot of attention these days to the problem of gender violence plaguing every corner of the earth yet does not seem to garner enough attention any day, we homo sapiens are constantly challenging, confronting and perplexing each other with extreme abuses of power.

Why is the problem of violence a cross-cultural downfall among men? Is it because aggression is in their genes and that they need to have an outlet of acceptable expression, such as sports? Is it because violence is socially accepted in many cultures? UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet says, “As a young girl in Chile, I heard a common saying: ‘quien te quiere, te aporrea’ (who loves you, beats you). I recall a woman say: ‘That’s just the way it is.”

Perhaps this conundrum has its roots in us not knowing or trusting our power. If we knew and trusted our power to do good in equal measure as our power to do harm, would men, even those in the most desperate of situations, resort to violence as readily? I don’t know. But I would like to think that someone who has the ability to strike a blow with his bare fist also has the ability to connect with another through a warm embrace. (If you feel like smiling, watch this video of free hugs in San Francisco.)

Faith in humanity? I grapple with this. Some days, mine gets caught in newly-sharpened scissors, cutting huge holes and fraying those delicate edges. Some segments of the proverbial tunnel are pitch-black and the most one can do is tough it out inch by inch. Sooner or later a ray of light will appear. Once again, here we go with the mixed metaphors.

Clearly, I don’t have the answers. But I’d like to share a couple of stories that remind me that, as much as my eyes tear over the cold, cruel acts human beings commit, it is still human beings who warm my heart.

A few days ago, I had the privilege of attending an inspiring, love-filled memorial celebration. A string quartet played the most heartfelt, stirring music; each note played with care. The reverend, ravishing and regal, delivered the most beautiful words of blessing and commendation, as though the words came directly from the heavens and into the packed chapel through her. A passage from one of my favorite books, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, filled the room as we all remembered a friend’s life with fondness. What made this memorial extraordinary was the words of praise given by our friend’s loving partner. Through memories, humor and stories, he not only honored the wonderful life of this special man, but he also encapsulated so much of what is good about being human — to love, to be loved, to do what you love, to grow, to work at being great at something, to dance, to laugh, to make and honor a commitment. There were tears, yes. After all, I am an emotional creature. But, ironic though it may seem, his eulogy inspired me and affirmed for me so many of the amazing gifts we receive through this one precious life.

The other story I’d like to share happened yesterday. I was sitting in my office when my phone rang. A man on the line called to thank my friend. My friend, let’s call her S, a strong, progressive leader unafraid to speak her heart and mind, has been in the news lately and this man on the other line read a recent story about her. Thanks for what? For something S did forty plus years ago. In the summer of ’69, S took care of a teen mother-to-be, raised by strict Catholic parents who disapproved of her pregnancy. S had this young woman live in her home until she gave birth. The man on the phone is that teen mother’s son who was given up for adoption and was placed in a home with loving parents in New York. He called to thank S for taking care of his biological mother who might have made a different decision had S not been there by this young teen’s side. S’s long history of kindness, compassion and generosity and this man’s expression of gratitude make me hopeful that humanity’s redeeming qualities, somehow, may be enough to outweigh our flaws.

++++++++++++

How do you nurture your faith in humanity?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ayala February 23, 2012 at 5:57 am

Belinda, what a beautiful post. Your words true and wise..” Mixed metaphors seem appropriate when we talk about the acts of inhumanity we human beings commit or allow others to commit without consequence”….. To me it’s a source of frustration eating away at my faith in humanity. But there are so many good people, doing so many good things as well. I just had a conversation with a friend that claimed she lost all faith, and I tried to explain to her that even if you reach one person, one good deed at a time it makes a difference. We can’t raise our hands in the air and surrender. That’s not a solution. I love this post. You tackle the issue and challenge us to think and dream of a better way, thank you. Love the video of free hugs 🙂

Reply

2 Anisi from Santa Fe February 23, 2012 at 8:52 am

You don’t shy away from the hard parts of life do you Belinda? And this is why we readers are reading your blog every time. Thank you again for reaching into that place that some of us are afraid to go and then showing us there’s still hope.
The Halfway Point gives me hope in humanity!

Reply

3 Belinda February 25, 2012 at 8:33 am

Thank you, Anisi, for your encouraging words.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you but I love so much about Santa Fe. Its people, the art scene, the cuisine, the weather, you’re so lucky to live there!

Reply

4 ayala February 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm

You know what gets me? That your wonderful post doesn’t have a thousand comments when everyone should wake up and feel with your heart. You are beautiful and your words should awaken a desire in everyone that read this!

Reply

5 Belinda February 25, 2012 at 8:28 am

Thanks for your lovely words, Ayala. Lately, I’ve been getting more random e-mails from readers who are either humanitarians or NGO workers — folks who aren’t bloggers — and those people who bother to connect with no desire to get a comment back really make my day! And to be fair, I haven’t been the best blogging buddy as I have had very little time to comment on other sites. Comments are nice and I value them greatly, but I’m learning to trust that readers who are truly interested in what I have to say will continue reading whether or not I get to hear their reactions.

And by the way, I truly do love hearing from you! I know you don’t skirt around heavy subjects either. xo

Reply

6 BigLittleWolf February 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Sadly, as I get older, my ability to retain faith in humanity is more strained rather than less. But occasionally, something occurs which changes that – and I’m filled with a sense of hopefulness, at least for a little while.

Stop over and read at http://jeremy-kate.blogspot.com/ – go back a few weeks, and read each day.

I am not a religious person; it isn’t about that, or their particular religious faith in what they have gone through as a couple, in Jeremy donating a kidney to Kate’s friend, Ashley – this past week. lt is the example of goodness, rallied around from all corners, to help make this happen. And the extraordinary courage in Ashley, and in her donor, to see it through.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: