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Meditation 102
Faith is to the human what sand is to the ostrich

Winner - Student Essay Competition

by Kathryn (Kat) Ference - The Woodlands, Texas

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Throughout human history, all cultures and civilizations have one thing in common: faith in a Supreme Being or Beings. The ancient Egyptians had Ra; the Greeks had Zeus, Muslims have Allah, Christians have God, etc. Now, I suppose that this bond could be counted as support for the existence of some sort of god— when multiple groups of people all come up with similar conclusions, the possibility of those conclusions being founded on some shred of truth becomes more likely. However, I propose a different hypothesis. Faith is a shield. It is what we hide behind when we cannot find reason. Faith is to the human what sand is to the ostrich.

Ostriches are best known in popular culture for burying their heads in the sand in order to hide from their enemies. They assume that, because they cannot see the world around them, that world cannot see them. Thus, the sand becomes their protection. When they see something that threatens them, they dive their heads into the sand without a second thought. It is their refuge, if you will.

Human beings have a similar defense mechanism, and it is encouraged from birth onwards. For example, let us take the stereotypical Christian American family. We’ll call them the Smiths. Judy and Steven Smith are both devout Christians who attend the local Southern Baptist Church weekly. Judy has a newborn child named Stephanie, and, like good Christian parents, they bring their daughter to services with them. From her earliest days, Stephanie is taught the Gospel stories in Sunday school. As she grows, she begins to ask questions—where? How? Why? And whenever she asks such questions, she will get the same answer. Because the Bible says so. Why? Because God said so. Why? Because he could. Why? Stop asking such stupid questions.

After a while, Stephanie learns that questions are pointless, and she accepts what she’s told as truth. By the time she’s a teenager, she’s strongly devout in the Southern Baptist faith, as well. She’s President of the Christian club at school. She participates in missions and other evangelical work frequently. And now, whenever she is approached with a question, she repeats the answers she always received as a child like a broken record: Because the Bible says so. Because God said so. Because he could. Stop asking such stupid questions. She hides behind her faith because that’s all she’s ever known. Even if she is an imaginative, bright girl in other areas, she will not question her faith—she will fervently defend it, fight for it, even, like the children at Columbine High School, die for it, because she knows, without the ability to even really know, that it is the absolute truth. Like the sand and the ostrich, her head becomes so clogged with Bible verses and psalms that she cannot entertain a new, different idea.

Faith in and of itself is not bad. If we had no faith, no one could trust each other and society as we know it would collapse. But when faith becomes a blindfold and a cage, it becomes a dilemma. The faith that is supposed to bring peace and set free the soul instead binds its practitioners in the sands of false security that really leaves them blind and open to attack. But, while the ostrich numbers are relatively small, nearly all of the six million humans on this earth subscribe to some faith or another. Why do they flourish? Perhaps it is because the ostrich merely hides, while the human hides under a rock like a snake, hidden from view until it lashes out to strike down the vile unbelieving heretic.