It happens in every language. Words get twisted and changed by popular culture, and before long nobody really understands what anyone else is truly saying.
The word ‘faith’ is a perfect example. Phrases like “keep the faith” or “walk by faith” are thrown around in our society with reckless abandon, and I seriously doubt that anyone understands what those phrases really mean. The problem is that people don’t even know the definition of ‘faith’ itself.
So what is faith? Dictionary.com defines it as “confidence or trust in a person or thing.” That seemed a little too vague to me, so I looked up both ‘confidence’ and ‘trust’ and was able to put together a more specific definition. Faith is being certain that you can rely on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.
Now that we know what it is, we come to that ever-popular question asked by religious groups and political parties everywhere. “What are you putting your faith in?”
Many answers result from the posing of this question, some of which are valid. Many will say that they put their faith in God or in themselves or in humanity. Some will even be able to back up their statements. And then you get the person that says that he or she has faith in absolutely nothing.
Unless you distrust and doubt everything and everyone around you, you have faith of some kind. Let me prove it to you.
The sun comes up each morning, yes? Do you expect it to come up again tomorrow? Would you be surprised if it didn’t? Ah ha! So you are certain that the world will continue turning on its axis at 1070 miles per hour so that your day remains approximately 24 hours long.
That, my friend, is faith.
Okay, so how about this? You’re at a restaurant. You’ve just finished a great, or maybe not so great, meal and your server hands you a little book with your check inside. So you whip out a little piece of plastic and slide it in the book. Soon the server returns, taking the book, and promising to return with your receipt.
Where did your credit card go? The server took it to the back to complete the transaction. How do you know he or she isn’t writing down some rather important numbers? Do you ever consider that possibility? Why not?
Hmm. Perhaps you have a bit more faith than you thought. In fact, now that you’re thinking about it, maybe you have a lot of faith you didn’t realize you had. And maybe, just maybe, you’re realizing that you have faith in a lot of people and things that haven’t earned it.
For instance, I was studying in the library the other day, and made a trip upstairs. While I was gone, my backpack, laptop, ipod, and Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist were left completely unattended.
Now, I’m a freshman, and I don’t know even half of the students on campus. Yet, I left my valuables just sitting there in plain sight, almost begging to be messed with or taken. Not only that, but among the people I do know, a couple of them would think spitting in my drink and leaving would be hilarious.
Why do I have faith in the trustworthiness of the daily patrons of Deets Library? I don’t have a clue. And I bet I’m not the only one.
Think about how many times you have set down a personal possession, expecting it to be there when you come back. That’s quite a bit of faith.
Last, but definitely not least, are friends. You put a lot of faith in the people you regularly associate with. You expect that they will keep your secrets and laugh when you do. They are the people who know you’re not okay even though you say you’re fine. They are the people you rely on, the people you have faith in.
These are just a few examples, and truth be told, I could go on all day. The fact of the matter is, we actually have faith in much more than we realize. I challenge you to start thinking about it.
The next time you allow someone to use your cell phone for a quick call, realize you trust them not to run away with it. The next time you let someone borrow a pen, consider whether or not you trust them not to turn around and stab you with it.
It seems ridiculous, yes, but it’s the truth. So don’t tell me you have faith in nothing. I will not believe you.
Erin Morris is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.