I live with a bastard called doubt. I often viewed him with contempt. He offended me to the core. But I cannot ignore him. Neither dismiss nor disown him. He is part of me. He is who I am. He is a creature created from the womb of my reasoning. He is the love-child of my intercourse with reality. He is my flesh and blood. My bone and my marrow. He is the reason why I reason. I am beholden to him as much as a mother is beholden to her child.
To deny this unwieldy offspring is to deny me as a thinking, reflective, and contemplative person. He is part of my identity and he grows with me. At times, he grows against me. Often his rebellious streak leaves me in a state of discontent. And he never fails to make me labor, or even struggle, for what I believe in and stand for. Although he is not the firstborn, he is nevertheless the illegitimate brother of the firstborn called faith. But the one cannot live without the other. They are joined together against a common foe and that common foe is ignorance.
I guess the mischief that gave birth to them is my indiscriminate and promiscuous quest for truth and for knowledge. This insatiable lust to know why and how and when was the reason they came into my life. My romp with truth and my congress with knowledge had led me to an intimacy that I cannot escape from. This intimacy is a deep abiding ecstasy of feeling alive and I cannot imagine living without it.
So, I gave in to the existential temptation and from this epistemological union came the unlikely and incongruous siblings, faith and doubt. I could have stopped at the firstborn and go no further. I could have left it at faith, the favorite child, and walked away from doubt, the despised one. But I realized that to do without the other, the one that came later, is to condemn faith into a solitude that is inconsolable.
I can’t imagine faith playing alone, learning alone and sleeping alone. I can’t imagine faith living without his wayward brother. To separate them, faith and doubt, I would be guilty of committing the grievous sin of parentage against truth, against knowledgehood. I cannot make one an orphan without jeopardizing the life-giving consummation that led to the birth of the beloved in the first place. Like holding on to the favored end of the stick, you inevitably lift the other prodigal end.
So, faith and doubt will grow together in my life. It is my responsibility to see to their mutual nurturance. Occasionally they will fight. It is expected. One will come crying with superficial wounds inflicted by the other. And I guess the one with tears will often be faith because I would expect doubt to be more stubborn. Naturally the older one has to give way to the younger one. The big brother has to take care of the younger brother.
And at such time, I have this sacred duty to comfort and console and to punish with love, moderation and understanding. But whatever I do in this personal quest for truth and knowledge, I must always remind myself that each of them are born the way they are born. They are born this way. They are different. And this differences will inescapably collide. And yet, what holds them together for as long as they live is their unmitigated love for truth and for knowledge. And this common bond is beyond reproach. It is unbreakable. It is unbreachable.
In fact, each of them, when they come of age, will stake their life to protect, care and provide for truth and for knowledge the same way that the latter had once protected, cared and provided for them. In the end, faith may be the first born but what makes him complete and fulfilled is his younger brother doubt. They are primarily inseparable. Underneath all that sibling rivalry, they truly love each other.
So, I have to learn to be fair. I have to stop treating one with favor and the other with contempt. I have to give them space, especially doubt. I have to receive and embrace this bastard child of mine in my heart and apologize for the years of evasion, even neglect. I have to learn to love him all over again and this time to do it right. For if not for doubt, if not for the burning soul of curiosity, if not for a disapproving spirit of all things suspicious, superficial and spurious, how then will I ever experience joyful certainty in the things that truly matter? Cheerz.
* image from www.thenakedmonk. com