Beliefs and belonging. It gets very tribal. Whether that be supporting “my” football team, church, community, media groups … We seem hard-wired to seek out those who believe what “I” believe. Once found we usually defend ”our” rightness. Defending “us” from all-comers and attacking those who seek to undermine “us”.
Football supporters are tribal. Openly so. Legitimately so. My team is a lifelong (usually frustrating) passion. One where success is intermittent. Hoped-for more frequently than delivered and enjoyed.
But what can you do? It’s in your blood!
Just as for many years, for me, the same was true about the bible and God. It’s in your blood – His blood. The Bible is the Word and God is The Word. Church life with those who publicly proclaim the same. Just as other faiths and denominations are tolerated – even revered sometimes – just not correct as we are correct.
That community and belonging is both global-macro and local-micro. From how we nurture or destroy this globe, to how we like or not our neighbours. This “community” is fluid and inconsistent. Dependant more on my own mood and moment than much else. Which applies to most of my beliefs.
My beliefs are fluid and flexible. Even when I proclaim them to be eternal truth. My beliefs are inconsistent and dependant. Just like me and my journey through life and living. My beliefs change but in a weird and an illogical way. But my beliefs are also who I am – they are me – and you don’t mess with me (which also means my beliefs).
Which is where it all gets a tad irrational, subjective and emotional.
I have found that belief is often thought of as fact – found that “fact” is often thought a “truth”. But have learned that “truth-fact-belief” keeps on changing – unlike “science”. Except that science also changes its mind over time – finds new knowledge not available yesterday – knowledge now available today – new knowledge which changes earlier “fact-truth-belief”.
I have also learned that this “fact-truth-belief” is a potent cocktail – that it’s the fuel of change. That this “fuel” is my emotional investment which is why it is “me”. Me and my investment for which I seek return-reward for my investment-attachment-ownership. An ownership that proclaims me to be me. A fact-truth-belief that is me and I it. We are the same. I believe. I am a believer. I am and I seek out others who are the same.
And we all forget that fact-truth-belief changes just as we change.
After a year and a half of this pandemic there is a growing frustration. From those who seek to keep us safe AND from those who seek to keep us safe from “them”. From those who see science as the answer and our self-centred behaviour (or lack of personal responsibility) as the weak point. From those who see science as having been hijacked and is now (perhaps always has been) political over-reach – the universal fact of oppressor and oppressed.
One side shouts conspiracy and suppression, the other also shouts suppression and conspiracy. All believe they are right. And in the middle is us obviously. The little people without voice or power. The silent majority all cherry-picking from all sides. All just wanting to get back to “how it used to be”.
Except how it was was never how it actually was for all of us. “How it was” is cherry-picked the same as we cherry-pick “how it is” today.
So just where does Love fit within this tangled web of self-delusion?
I think it depends upon whichever belief I pin “Love”.
Pin it to the bible and we are back to correct belief debate. Pin it to society and we are back to the correct belief debate. Pin “Love” to anything and everything and we inevitably seek to hijack Love for the beliefs we hold. And is so doing we weaponise Love.
The church does. Society does. Individually we each do. It’s where entitlement lives. Where correct belief lives. Where unshakeable and unchanging truth live. Where self-delusion lives.
It is why I have often used the addition of “unconditional” to the word Love in this blog.
An attempt to free love from being weaponised by differing beliefs. A weaponising that says love is weak and despised. That love is saying yes and turning the other cheek. That love is manipulated and insincere. That love is transactional and conditional. Love that science says is just a cocktail of chemicals-hormones-learned-responses all easily explained away without any mystique at all.
And the Catch-22 for me?
If I truly love you then I would agree with you rather than dissuade you of your version of “love”. But then if I agree with you it makes me weak – and that makes love weak. Makes me and “love” fodder for your manipulation and scorn. Which proves that love is weak. So we obviously need more than “love” to protect the weak (i.e. me).
Love me, love you, love something that binds us all.
The church has resisted that simplicity as has every other belief system both secular and religious. We have defined love as not enough. We have defined the Law as necessary. we have decided we are right and correct in this.
Except that Love is not a belief system: love is or is not – I am love or I am not.
And, for me, that is why Love (without condition – obvs) is stronger than steel – stronger than life itself. For me love is not “correct or incorrect” – love cannot be interpreted and debated – love is neither physical or platonic – love is or is not and I am love or I am not. I am.
And that, for me, is why I Am is so powerful.
I Am is needless. Comes without obligation. Is free and without cost. Has no qualification or institution. Spans every belief and argument. Is timeless and universal. Is everything and for everyone. Doesn’t even need a God (or no God) at its heart. Requires no validation or explanation. Is in every moment. If we each allow.
That, for me, is Love.
That for me is “God”.