What Draws People Together? – A Discussion

Father MulcahyWith gratitude to C. S. Lewis, today’s article is not meant to be my pontificating on a particular topic, but a discussion where we work to find commonality and increase knowledge.  I cannot stress this enough; I am not the end-all resource on a topic, especially topics I remain utterly ignorant about.  Love, friendship, charity, and many more are topics I am learning about and if you are a subject matter expert, feel free to join the conversation, add comments below, and let’s learn together.

As we begin, I will stress one more point; it is a pattern I have learned well.  “We teach that we may learn more perfectly.”  Thus, while I remain thoroughly ignorant, I will teach what I know, what I have found, and what I suspect so that I may learn more perfectly what I desire.  Welcome!

Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” ― C.S. Lewis

As a kid, love was getting beat, having chores heaped up, and being punished as my mother was God’s right-hand person.  Her favorite saying was, “That was God punishing you for what you did.”  I have had a complicated relationship with God ever since I could remember.  Worse, this relationship has been clouded with a misunderstanding about love, chastisement, and punishment.  The quote above from C. S. Lewis is one I have been thinking about and continue to try and understand its application.

What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.” ― C.S. Lewis

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” ― C.S. Lewis

These two messages on friendship are, to me, very important.  But, I have found that the importance varies based upon whether people form around a personality trait or a truth.  For example, I choose to be a bibliophile.  Books are fundamental to my personality, identity, and methods of looking at the world.  But not all books are worthy of being in my library or possessing the same value.  When I find people who have read the same book, found similar truths, these people become value-added relationships, and together we move forward.  As a foodie, as a baker, as a distinguished eater of good foods, I have met many people.  But very few of them joined my society for very long, as their association is built upon food, not truth.  Are the distinguishing characteristics understood?

You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” ― C.S. Lewis

Consider this unique perspective and inherent truth; we are immortal spirits having a mortal experience.  But, inherent in this truth from C. S. Lewis is the individual’s choice to be either an immortal horror or everlasting splendor.  To some people, I am an immortal horror because of my actions in their society, and to these people, I offer a sincere apology.  These people know who they are, know how they were hurt, and if I could, I wish, I could go back in time and change my actions.  I wish the opposite were true, that there were people who would consider me an eternal splendor, for that is what I have been working to achieve in human relations for a long time now.  Still, I remain an immortal personality, spirit, and individual.

Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” ― C.S. Lewis

Or something to be forgiven for… do you think C. S. Lewis intentionally left this part out in this statement?  What is more difficult, forgiving someone else, forgiving ourselves, or being forgiven?  I do not have this answer, but I find the question intriguing.  I am not venturing into religion, religiosity, or preaching religious dogma in asking this question.  I am merely asking for consideration of a tool.  Forgiveness is a useful tool, for, through forgiveness, we begin the process of forgetting, healing from physical, spiritual, and mental/emotional wounds.  Wounds that cannot find closure and healing any other way.  But one of the things I learned about injuries is focusing on them, poking them, ripping scabs off, all these things, and more are reopening those wounds, where forgiveness is like a really good bandage that holds both a pain reliever and a healing cream to speed healing.  Yet, how often do we refuse this tool, or worse, use this tool for a limited amount, not allowing the entire wound to heal?

“..Friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I have met some ugly people whose physical features are terrible, but they are beautiful and lovely immortal beings.  On the opposite, I have unfortunately met some physically beautiful people who are ravening wolves and immortal horrors, where I curse the day we ever crossed paths.  What never ceases to amaze me is that physical beauty and internal splendor or horror are not mutually exclusive or inclusive.  The physical is generally the results of choices others have made and reflect the injuries overcome, whereas the internal is all individual choices, compounded over time, into horror or splendor.  One of the truths I have found is patience is generally the perfect revelator of another person’s horror or splendor, and rushing the judgment always leads to a need for forgiveness.

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Do we understand this pattern, as laid out by C. S. Lewis?  How often has a good friend promoted solitude, silence, and private thoughts and contemplations within ourselves that have led to meditation and deeper friendships?  I married my best friend.  Sometimes we fight like brothers, more often though her input has caused this pattern to be unfolded to me in new and interesting ways.  Sometimes we disagree on topics and get quite vocal in our discussions.  Sometimes we disagree quietly and wait for the other to come around when in reality, we are generally waiting for ourselves to realize and learn.  For the better part of almost three decades, we have lived after the manner of learners, and this friendship has only deepened.  Even though sometimes frustrations run high, the friendship has value for inspiring this pattern to be effective.

Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis

Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” ― C.S. Lewis

Does hardship ever come without pain?  I remember my first week or so in US Army Basic Training; the pain in my muscles was incredible, and the torture of physical exercise I thought was going to kill me.  Yet, I put on weight (muscle) because of basic training, I learned endurance, and the results have been nothing but beneficial.  Thus, I could say, basic training was a megaphone of pain to rouse a deaf person to action, and the resulting life changes have been extraordinary.  Do we kick and curse the pain, or do we hold deep to the hope that the pain will lead to something extraordinary?  The choice is important, the pain is temporary (always), and the resulting consequences determine our destiny.

The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career. ” ― C.S. Lewis

Never Give Up!We conclude with this thought and provide honor to those who are the homemakers!  One of the first things I learned as a military dependent is that the military spouses, the homemakers who watch hearth and tend the wounds, are incredible people.  As a military servicemember, I learned a new appreciation for my homemaker and the friends and family who supported her in the ultimate career.  As a veteran, my appreciation for the role of the ultimate career professional has only deepened and widened.  As we go into Thanksgiving celebrations, remember the homemakers, male and female, who, through tending hearth and home, make the job of supporting the homemaker easier and more bearable.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Faith or Confidence, Faith and Confidence, Either or, Both – A Question

A recent question surfaced, “What does it mean to have faith but not confidence?”  Some atheist friends immediately will consider this a religious discussion is turn the entire question off.  Yet, faith and confidence are not solely the province of religion, and thus, fair game for a discussion, and America needs this discussion today!  For those well versed in the definitions and etymology of both words, feel free to skip ahead of the next couple of paragraphs, or stick around for the discussion and feel free to add to the discussion.  I welcome your thoughts!

Faith

A common definition for faith is “things hoped for, but not seen.”  For example, we hope that when we turn on a light switch, electricity, something we cannot see, will light a lightbulb.  Dictionaries hold an almost standard definition for faith as “derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, meaning confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept.”  Faith can also include a system of beliefs codified into a religion, strong feelings that become personal beliefs, or absolute trust.  For example, consider the trust placed upon the government to act in a specific manner, e.g., for the benefit of the majority of society and for personal interest or the select of society who pay the most in donations.

Interestingly, most people would guess these definitions of faith and stop there with their guessing.  However, in stopping, they miss crucial aspects to the etymology and missions of the term faith.  Consider that faith also denotes allegiance and loyalty, or individual duty one owes to another, as well as the sincerity of intentions.  Finally, we reach a pinnacle or the crux of faith without question; actions are undertaken without question.

Consider for a moment in school; we studied French history, specifically Joan of Arc, nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans.”  She is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War, and was canonized as a saint, but only after being burned at the stake for her faith.  At nineteen, Joan of Arc went to her death, an action taken without question, in complete confidence, knowing the outcome, on faith, or rather the power of her conviction she was right.  While highly simplified, we see the power of faith, backed by confidence.

Confidence

The feeling of confidence has led many a person to leap off a ledge into a river, from a cliff into a raging sea, or, as stated above, to go calmly to one’s demise in the face of tyranny and oppression.  Confidence is defined as a feeling or belief that something can be achieved, success can be obtained, that ability can overcome obstacles, and good will come after a struggle.  Confidence includes certitude, trust, intimacy, reliance upon others, support from others, the ability to keep secrets, but most of all, confidence is a firm belief, or faith, that someone will act in a right or proper manner.  Interestingly, confidence is a double-edged sword for those who swindle, lie and cheat, use confidence to beat their victims for their money and precious resources.

The etymology of confidence holds the key to why confidence is crucial to the discussion on faith.  Confidence derives from Middle English confydence, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French confidence, borrowed from Latin confīdentia, from confīdent-, confīdens “trusting in oneself.”  Consider this for a moment, when man needed to trust something, the first thing he trusted was himself, and communicating that trust to others was paramount to building a society, an economy, and a government.

America’s failure of confidence is traceable to the partisan issues in a dual-political party system where both parties have proven themselves useless in protecting the citizen from the other party and the extremes inside their own party.  When discussing confidence, it cannot be stressed enough; we must discuss money, for we do not spend money.  We traffic in confidence in the government issuing paper labeled as currency.  Money is the tangible goods valued in trade for a product or service.  How tangible is that credit card in your wallet, and how much value does it have if you wanted to trade the card itself for a tank of gas?

Discussion

What does it mean to have faith but not confidence?  The questioner doubts his confidence, places faith in hope and desires to know that they know their confidence and faith has been placed in a sound source.  Now, a religionist, at this point, would point to a supreme being, and the discussion would shift in that direction.  There is nothing wrong with placing faith and confidence in a supreme being.  I advocate finding hope, placing faith, and building trust with a community of believers.  I am not here to point a person to a community of believers; that is your journey to take, and if interested, I can recommend a few in your area if you are further interested offline.

The intent here is to reflect does faith and confidence work together, separately, independently, cojoined, or in a different relationship altogether?  I firmly believe that when we understand the intimacy of the relationship between faith and confidence, we possess the power to know why and what we are placing our faith and confidence upon.  As a child, it intrigued me that confidence listed faith as a synonym in the thesaurus, but faith does not list confidence as a synonym in the thesaurus.  Why?

The answer lies in the etymology of the words: confidence is all about trusting in oneself, whereas faith requires exercising confidence in someone or something other than oneself.  Thus the relationship of trust opens, and in the opening, we find the need for duality in communication, a duality in action, and duality in intentions.  For when we put our faith in another, we expect reciprocation.  Confidence in oneself has no duality; faith possesses a need for duality, a partnership, and, if you will, a return on your investment.

Why are Americans so angry right now?  Some may ask, how do you know Americans are angry?  I cannot see signs of anger in America.  To these people, I say, look closer, get outside the cities, read the signs, and pay more attention to your neighbors.  How do I know people are angry; well, the popularity of “Let’s Go Brandon” is a good indicator.  The screams and shouts, the capturing of media attention at every opportunity to harangue the president, the subtle backlash the president faces everywhere he goes in America; yeah, these all indicate America is not pleased and very angry!

Returning to why is America angry?  Confidence was invested, faith was placed, and the return on investment is not forthcoming.  A lesson often quoted in these articles is a powerful lesson learned from reading classical literature.  However, the source escapes me even now, “The most dangerous person is an honest man betrayed.”  Where was confidence invested; the voting booth.  Where was faith placed; when the oath of office was taken and sworn before God to be upheld.  What is the return on investment; it is not “free stuff” from the government,” it is the fair and equal treatment of all before the law.

Failing to see faith upheld means people fall back to questioning faith being invested in the core of society, that which makes us Americans.  When this faith is lost, we are left with confidence, but confidence is selfish; confidence only looks after personal interests; confidence is all about me, myself, and mine.  What is the danger in confidence; confidence is what the charlatans in government dragged America into in the first place to get us to this dangerous edge.  Who is Jill Biden looking out for; it certainly is NOT Joey, but only Jill!  Who is Joey looking out for; it certainly is NOT the common citizen or the US Constitution he swore to protect and serve.

Is it any wonder that people would ask questions about faith and confidence?  How do we know that we know our faith and confidence have been invested properly when the return on our investment is so bitter, so terrible, and so detrimental?  We have not been taught the relationship between faith and confidence, so trust, belief, caring, and compassion are the victims, and America as a society suffers, bleeds, and dies a little more every day.  We do not support each other as Americans because the media harps incessantly about every line that is supposed to separate us first.

The political leaders accepted the job, took the pay, swore the oath, and are responsible before God for their actions, and are accountable before us, the citizens, for how they act in our name.  That is faith and confidence in action.  The relationship becomes tangible when we take the time to understand the relationship and then enforce the relationship as a dual tool in building the core of America.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.