To Believe or not to Believe.
By Paul V. Montesino Ph.D., MBA, ICCP.
Recently, a friend of mine who heads the musical department and the chorus of a local church, authored an article about Faith, and what it means to her, her life’s present and future, her profession. I found her article inspiring because to me Faith, any way practiced, is to be commended.
I reminded her of what the definition of Faith was when I first encountered in my childhood the word in books and sermons of my religion teachers. Faith then defined in Christian Theology followed the biblical formulation in Hebrews 11:1 “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I am sure the same definition was in the Catholic Catechism.
Put in simple words, it really meant to believe in our minds and hearts what our ears and eyes had not seen. That was a leap that gave us an opportunity to accept everything we heard from the religious. But notice that I said Christian Theology. The rest of the world, pagan, Muslim, Hindus, even the atheists, believed their principles without any physical evidence as well. To believe or not to believe is another belief.
In our case, the Middle Ages was the age of faith. Everything from architecture, art, literature, and music were based off a religious aspect. The main religion of Europe in the Middle Ages was Christianity. While the country was falling apart in a political way, the religious part of the country was confident and strong. With this confidence and strength came power. But what my friend was talking about was faith in ourselves, our strength, our resources, our friends, not an afterlife or alter world.
I participated in a play as an actor, the only time in my life, which tempted me to memorize the entire play. In the middle of the first act, as I was interacting with another actor, I noticed that his face had lost its color and he had frozen in panic. His name was Javier. He had forgotten his lines. I did not panic. I turned my back to the audience and my face to the actor and gave him his words. He felt relief and sighed, remembered the rest of his lines and the play ended successfully. He had faith in my prompter ability and I in his power of recollection. Let us end this anecdote with this additional piece of information: we were only seven years old. For reasons I would never be able to figure out, that day my life as an actor ended and the world missed another opportunity to have a William Shakespeare.
Javier and I transferred from our school to an all-boys school and remained there for the next ten years until we graduated from High School. Four years later, in December of 1958, he became involved with a group of medical students who had faith in humanity and their mutual social responsibility. They tried to express that responsibility providing medical aid to the rebels who opposed the Batista military dictatorship in the Cuban mountains, became captives, captured, mutilated, and shot by an officer gone rogue who decided to kill himself rather than face the unavoidable justice as the government was falling.
I use theatre as an example, because theatre is the best analogy and metaphor I can find about life. When the curtain goes up and the director shouts “Action,” we are on our own. We are living a unique play of fiction or reality with other actors of the story and move on the stage where we are supposed to be situated in a script not always of our choice. That play is going to end eventually when the curtain closes, the story is complete, and we may or not win an award not only for the quality of a drama that someone else writes for us, but also for the honesty and excellence of our interpretation.
And that is my point of view today.