Belief And Freedom


What do you believe in?

That’s a difficult question, but most important ones are. Belief is something risky and forgotten. Snark is easy and commonplace.

What do you believe in?

If you’re saying “love,” or anything big and bold that you think you’re supposed to say, think carefully. Do you really believe in that something, do you really carry faith that you act upon, or are you repeating a hollow social mantra?

Believing in something is difficult and weird. It means that there is a concept or idea so important that you will build your life around it, even when it appears invisible.

It is the opposite of freedom. It’s better.


I’m throwing down some theoretical gauntlets willy-nilly here. I’m out of my intellectual and spiritual depth. But nothing ventured nothing gained, so let’s talk about freedom, purpose and belief as actual concepts that exist, true and serious, and not as yawn-worthy buzzwords of lameness.

And they are lame. That’s part of the problem. The broad infinity of the internet has encouraged a generation of sharp tongued critical thinkers. And that’s incredible. Ideas should be challenged! 

But rarely, if ever, do we challenge the downsides of perpetual challenge: when cynicism is equated with intelligence we’re encouraged to battle and doubt everything. But we never get a chance to accept or be: if you like a show, you’re supposed to make sure it’s the right show, properly reviewed and accepted, that it builds a cool public identity (hi 30 Rock!), that it isn’t problematic, that…I don’t know. That’s a lot, and that’s for television.

When the entry for discussion becomes so difficult, the smallest things become cultural battlegrounds (check your Twitter) and larger, actual important things are forgotten. God forbid we ever talk about religion or spirituality as anything but punchlines destined for snark. But have you thought about life lately? Or what it actually means to live a good life?

But I encourage you to take a moment to address the American paradox: having absolute freedom and being bound to nobody and nothing can feel profoundly lonely. It can be empty to have nothing but snark. And so, for your sake and happiness- not because you should, or you have to, for the good and simple reason you’ll enjoy it- find something to believe in. Really and truly. Find an idea, a concept, a thing that fills you and makes you better.

Meditating actually works for some people! Love might be worth pursuing! Mindfulness and thankfulness are, ironically, great greedy ways to feel better.  Some people find happiness and peace in nature; maybe you’d be happier in North Carolina than you would in New York.

Look, if I called these things “life hacks” I’d have 70k shares on Facebook. All I’m saying is maybe the cliches from all of human history – about love, about spirituality, about nature and family and peace and mediation and even God- have some level of merit to them that our cynical generation has falsely bled dry.

We’re a culture that obsesses about maximizing nonsense. Maybe there are bigger things for us to think about.