Monday, 6 March 2017

Good Faith for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet

We live in an uncertain and unfair world at a time of great change. This can be unsettling. It is easy to become anxious, especially if you struggle to find work or your job is under threat. Even if you don't have to worry about paying the rent or mortgage and putting food on the table, the media could make you worry about terrorists, climate change or the economy. Sometimes we can feel very lonely and vulnerable.

Human beings seem to be hard wired to worry. It was important for our ancestors to be alert to danger all the time. That is how they survived. Being alert, or stressed, has it's downsides, though. As I'm sure you are aware, too much stress can make us ill. Being afraid of strangers and those of our neighbours who are different from us can result in aggression and social tensions as well as causing us stress.

Religion arose, not only to appease the gods of primitive people but also to develop social cohesion, to calm aggression between neighbours and to generally reduce social tensions. Religion is thought to be based on Latin for "the ties that bind".  Ties that bind us can have a very positive effect, but they can also be manipulated by the unscrupulous. The ties that bind us to a group can be used to force us to conform or to give more than we are able to. It's not surprising that religion has a bad name.

Spirituality is closely related to religion. Sometimes being spiritual can seem like turning inward, but true spirituality connects us not only with the Divine, or our Higher Power, but also to the people and the rest of the world around us. We don't have to belong to any kind of organised religion to be spiritual. Some would argue that everyone is spiritual, in the sense that we all need some connection with other people and the world around us.

In thinking about the kind of faith that might help us live well on our fragile planet I hope to consider how we can be better connected as well as if it's possible to have healthy ties which might bind us in a positive way.