As some of you may know, this morning I brought Bonnie to Mass General Hospital for surgery. She’s had a cystocele repair done – major abdominal surgery. Suffice it to say that she’s in very good hands and that I’m very confident in the outcome.
A conversation I overheard in the waiting room starkly illustrated the difference between my worldview and the worldview of countless others.
This other gentleman wore his faith on his sleeve, quite literally – a t-shirt boldly proclaiming his Christian faith, and when pressed by a man sitting next to him, he explained how his faith came to him (after a serious work accident) and how it’s helped him through medical problems both he and his wife have faced. He was there to wait for his wife, who was having an outpatient procedure performed.
I appreciate the man’s conviction, and for him, that’s great. But where we utterly parted ways was another stated conviction of his – that faith was an absolutely necessary component for anyone who had any hope of healing or recovering from crisis.
“There are no atheists in foxholes,” he boldly proclaimed.
No. In fact, there are.
Look, I’m not opposed to people professing their belief in whatever faith they have, and I respect them all a great deal. This fellow was perhaps a little more extroverted and pushier about it than I would have liked, but whatever.
I understand intellectually what a great comfort it must be to put your belief in a higher power and trust that that higher power is watching out for your best interests. But it simply doesn’t factor into my worldview. Obviously I didn’t want to challenge the guy or contradict him, so I didn’t engage. But it got me thinking.
For me, Bonnie’s procedure today was a simple matter of education, reason, rational thought and stacking the odds in our favor. She knew she had to get this done, she asked her trusted Ob/Gyn for a referral, we looked at the doctor’s credentials, discovered that she’s one of the best in her field operating at one of the best hospitals in the world, and decided to go for it.
Faith – in the conventional sense of believing our actions were guided or blessed by a higher power – didn’t factor into it, at least on my part. Instead, I had a solid understanding that we were dealing with the top professionals in their field, researched their backgrounds, and made sure we minimized risk as much as possible.
Where I absolutely separated from this guy, however, was the sheer chauvinism (in the sense of an exaggerated support for his belief) in his conviction that everyone had to have faith.
No, not everyone has to have faith, pal. Some of us get along quite well without it.