A Reminder Of Why I Believe

Last night and today, I observed one of the Baha'i Holy Days, the Birth of Baha'u'llah. Baha'u'llah is the prophet-founder of the Baha'i Faith, which just happens to be my religion. I went to a huge concert/party at the Los Angeles Baha'i Center and got to see friends I've known for 20 years as well as those I've only known a few months.

I know so many people out there are ambivalent about religion or about having faith of any kind. After all, we humans are absurdly good at justifying the insane things we want to do in the name of religion. But, yours truly needs a set of guiding principles that go beyond myself. Otherwise, why not give in to that urge to totally rear-end the guy who cut me off on Wilshire Blvd. today? Some would say common decency would prevent anybody from doing that. I just don't think I have that decency without my beliefs grounding me. I am the girl that as a child used to be called "Evilene" by her family. I know I need something to remind me to keep my selfish desires in check.

Plenty of folks think that people who have religious beliefs are stupid or are sheep that need someone to tell them what to do. Plenty of people also think I'm going to hell or should be denied basic human rights because my faith is not the same as theirs.

I do my best to respect everybody, no matter what religious background they come from or whether they are athiest or agnostic. We all come from the same source and are all part of this human family. We really have no choice but to get along with each other. It's not like we can eternally keep killing off those that disagree with us. The winds of the world are swiftly moving toward unity and the birthday of the Prophet-Founder of my faith is a good day to think about whether or not I'm being a unifier or a divider.

There's no clergy in my religion and one of the main principles is the independent investigation of truth so I'm doing more searching for meaning and applying it to my own life, trying to make myself better. I can't do that if I'm blindly following what someone else says, and I can't do that if I'm only focused on what feels good to me and what I'm comfortable with. If I did that, I'd never exercise and I'd eat nothing but pancakes and fries, three times a day. And I'd jack people for their cute handbags and jewelry. It wouldn't be pretty.

However, instead of celebrating the Holy Day by going to the LA County Museum of Art with my family as I'd planned, I spent a ton of time at the pediatic urgent care center at a local hospital. You see, my youngest son has had serious stomach pains for the past couple of days. I thought he just had the flu but there was no fever, no vomiting, none of that. After seeing him crying in pain, I knew I had to take him to the doctor.

The whole drive there, I prayed that he'd be alright. And then I thought about what my life would be without him, about what a truly marvelous soul he is... and how if something happened to him, the only thing that could keep me from losing my mind is my faith.

I hope you also have something in your life, some belief, whatever you want to call it, to keep you from losing your mind too. The pain in this world is surely a heavy burden to bear alone.

Comments

Liz, I hope your son is okay.

I'm still sorting out my feelings about religion and faith. I don't understand why someone who doesn't believe, like Bill Maher, feels the need to call people who believe in something stupid.

Unless someone is trying to combine Church and State or force people to join a cult what do I care if they believe? I know some extremely intellect people who are religious and some idiots who are not. Not all religious people are fanatics.
Anonymous said…
I think that's exactly what a religion should be about, the independent investigation of truth rather than doing what some priest tells you to do. I favour Buddhism for the same reason - the guiding principle is to be a light unto yourself and not believe that anyone else has The Truth.

Hope your son doesn't have anything serious, Liz.
1969 said…
Liz....I too need a set of guiding principles or I might jack a few shoes and bags.

I hope your son is okay. Shoot me an email on Facebook and let me know. Saying prayers.
Unknown said…
So beautifully said, Liz.
I hope the little one is okay.

~House
Anne said…
Hi Liz,
Hope your son is feeling better soon. Saying prayers,
Anne
Liz Dwyer said…
NYC/CR,
I am quite worried about my boy, but I think he'll be alright eventually. Thanks for sending good thoughts his way. I don't get the need to call people stupid either. I think that sort of thing is just as bad as any form of religious extremism.

Nick
I get why there was a priesthood back in the day. It's because no one knew how to read, so if you asked them to read the Bible, they couldn't. However, it's a slippery slope from sharing God's message to becoming the Medici's. We humans all have our own versions of the truth, that's for sure. As far as my boy, it could be worse but he needs to respond to the medication and he's not so far. I am headed back to the doctor with him later this morning.

1969,
Yes, I can see myself saying, "I like your big ole diamond ring... it's so sparkly! Hand it over!" I'll DM you on FB. :(

House,
He didn't improve too much but he hasn't gotten worse either. I'm going to take him back to the doctor this morning to see what they can do.

Anne,
Thank you so much for the prayers. They are really appreciated.
Anonymous said…
Los Angelista,
You really moved me with what you wrote today, on so, so many levels. Funny to find out we'd share so many perspectives about such deeply important things in common.

Thank you for the reassuring beauty of what you expressed.
SWD
thailandchani said…
Well, my comment morphed into an entire post. I linked you over at my site. Hopefully between the two of us, there will be a lot of interesting perspectives.

In short, having a belief system keeps me rooted. Without it, I felt kind of lost - like floating off into some existential void.

But then.. that was just me. :)



~*
Unknown said…
I am glad for all the people out there doing their part to being a unifier. Hope your son's illness turns around.
Best wishes for your son. I'm sure he'll be fine. I think it's important for all of us to separate what we may have been taught vs what we can come to believe. What our values are aside from a 'religious' tag but to not throw out the pursuit of a spiritual ritual. We do need something 'more'.
Anonymous said…
First, I hope your son is well soon and will be holding him in my heart.

And second, I so agree. It's not the words we wrap around the path, but the path itself. How do you live? How do you treat others and the earth? What brings you solace and joy? In fact, I touched (but less seriously) on this topic myself today.

[word verification: "surge"]
Neil said…
I'm hoping your son is getting better.
Anonymous said…
Tell your son that a random guy who leaves comments on your blog truly hopes he feels btter soon.

Yeah, my faith ebbs and flows like the tides on a mystical beach. But it's my faith that lets me know that my occasional uncertainty is ok.
Shiona said…
I am on and off about religion. The one my family practices is one I cannot relate to. That being said I am going to be looking into this more.
Miriam said…
Liz

I am just now reading about your son. I hope everything is okay and he'll get well soon.
Liz Dwyer said…
Sorry I'm so slacking on replying to comments. I've just been so consumed with trying to get my little guy better that I've been sort of MIA in all my on-line worlds. Please do know I still love reading your comments, even if I can't reply with the detail I'd like.
Jen said…
Faith can be very grounding. Religion can often be very divisive. I'm so in awe of folks who find things that truly work for them. I'm not in that category.

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