Every time I am reading a document, doing my work, proofreading and getting things organized, I worry whenever I am to make sure it is correct. Worried here means that I feel nervous, my mind thinks of the possibilities that I might miss something and most of the time I can’t concentrate because of this fear. The fear is that I would miss an error, a word, and allow mistakes. So what I usually do is I would close my eyes and swallow all the possibilities that may happen, I might make mistakes, but the work has to be done. And because the fear makes me unable to concentrate, I will usually end up making more mistakes. So I developed a contingency plan for that, working extra hard, and spending more time on something that should take less than the time I have spent. Eventually I become tired from the intricacies. So my problem does not really go away, and often it is affecting my day at work.
Somehow fortunately, I am able to cope with the emotional turbulence that comes with this fear. Because I feel that there is a higher, all-encompassing power, stronger and bigger than me that is capable of controlling the things that I lack control of. So I believe there is hope, and I have faith that things will be alright in the end. My belief in God makes me believe that God has His own reasons for giving me this turbulent test. I feel that He is watching and guarding me, so I feel safe and at peace with my own fear and worries.
The way I see it is that I have a glimmer of hope inside, because I simply have faith in God. And psychologically it calms me, and makes me have the tolerance to wait, the perseverance to move on, and the will to carry on. My beliefs system shape my mind, my thinking and how I carry on. I know there are rules, obligations, and I follow them because I believe in the hereafter, of where good and bad deeds will be given what they deserve. So my values would be that of which has been taught in Islam, the religion that I give my faith to. Where every single person in this world is responsible for what they do, and will earn every retribution or reward for the deeds that they commit. Good and bad deeds are defined by God, stated in the religion, and in the holy book (Quran). A consensus that is understood. So what is right or wrong is never openly manipulated by people, because right and wrong has already been defined by what God has decreed. There is a line, a revelation, a principle that has been drawn to show what is good and bad. In one way or another, I would not know a better way that life could be, if in my belief system God does not exist.
So as I refer to the statement from The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) in the Malay Mail Online that pointed out how the Rukun Negara cannot bind any individual to believe in God, stating that unity must not be bought at the price of individual conscience, as well as the ongoing polemic on atheism, and Boo Su-Lyn’s sharing on how she left faith, I find myself needing to share a believer’s side of the story. I believe that all principles and choices of life should have solid reasons, and if they are not sound enough then, we are not making the right choice.
OUR PRINCIPLE AND FAITH SHAPE THE PERSON WE ARE
To say that not having a faith or religion is just a matter of principle and conscience and does not affect people, lives, or society would be to deny the reality of today. As a believer, my faith drives values for myself. We cannot practice something without believing in it. As I have mentioned from my own experience, if I have no faith, what is the motivation that would drive me? If I consistently fail, what else will keep me going? Thinking that I only have myself to turn to, will devastate me. If I don’t believe that there is a higher power that takes care of what I am unable to do, I would not possibly survive the burden of self-blame.
And what about deciding between right and wrong, or good and bad? If I solely depend on myself to draw the distinction, my ideas and way of thinking that is already subjected to various influences of where I came from, my life values, my surrounding community, as well as judgement, then the shape of moral ethics that I hold will only be formed by what I define is right or wrong. So if something benefits me I could simply define it as right, even though the implication of that is I will cause a wrongful injustice to others. This is an example of how reliance on personal moral compass instead of having faith of what is prescribed by God may subject a person’s moral ethics to human manipulation.
Without a guideline, rule, or a binding principle to hold on to, everything will be determined by the human mind and desires. Perhaps it is possible that one day, we would have a “purge day” just like in the movie, where killing isn’t a crime anymore since it is for a “good cause”. This is why I say that our faith shapes the kind of person we are, because our beliefs system determines judgement, and then induces actions by us.
HUMANS AND SELF-CONTROL
Humans are beings with a lot of emotions, desire and thoughts. Are we ever in control? Are we ever at ease? Do we ever stop being vulnerable? The answer is no, we don’t. Because we can’t. Self-control is not something that comes easily. Having moral ethics is insufficient in guaranteeing self-control. Social psychology research, such as the Stanford Prison Experiment for example, has shown how good, mentally healthy people can transform into dehumanizing, sadistic, individuals when given the authority. Adversity and personal experience influences our behaviour, so we are too biased by life to guarantee an absolute, all-encompassing sense of justice. I believe that this is where divine intervention, or faith and religion plays its part- because only a higher power can draw the line equally and unequivocally, where many humans have failed before.
M. Developmental Psychology
University Kebangsaan Malaysia