This I Believe

ryan - carl junction, Missouri
Entered on December 3, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: question

I believe that it’s okay, good even, to be unsure about what I believe. I know this may sound like a self-defeating belief, but it may be the only one I can sincerely utter. Despite this fact, I’m not confused. I’m not an anxious worrywart. I’m not vulnerable to ideologues or evangelicals. I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I’m still working out the things that I believe and that I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life.

It has been only recently, however, that I’ve found peace in my indecision. There’s incredible pressure in our culture to settle on at least a few core beliefs so that one can fit into a particular peer group or butt heads with another. You may physically be what you eat, but contemporary notions of identity center around sets of beliefs. America loves a man who knows what he believes or a woman who is settled on her convictions. These people know who they are and what they stand for. So for a long time, I’ve been struggling to sediment my own so that I can get to being somebody. I think differently now.

The milieu was first made apparent to me in church by the prodding of my peers, “Do you believe in God?” or more aptly phrased, “You believe in God, don’t you?” The clear suggestion (later reformed into a statement in sermon) was that without at least this foundational belief, I was in no position to make competent decisions about anything else in my life. Recently, I’ve seen this idea translated into the political sphere with respect to the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney and his unpopular Mormonism. According to the television, America would prefer a candidate who believes in something concrete, even if it’s crazy, over an agnostic. I find this troubling.

I am convinced that conviction halts inquiry and imagination. It rests. It’s lazy. To me, processes are far more interesting than products; questions are more important than answers. It’s in the active struggle to figure out what’s worth believing that one really becomes an individual. Anyone can assume a stance and cling to it. It takes guts to tangle with the reasons for doing so and to continue tangling with them as problems arise or new evidence comes to light.

I don’t know if there’s a God. It’s not clear to me if or when the termination of a pregnancy impinges on the rights of a fetus. I’ve not seen the knockdown evidence in favor of a particular political or economic arrangement. I don’t know the way out of Iraq. However, I’ll continue to reflect on the merits of this argument or that one, and I’ll continue to become more familiar with the reasons that support them. My critics are right to say I don’t’ have a foundation, but I’m alright with that. Making sense of the world and our place in it takes some moving, and I’m going to be agile enough to do it. This I believe.