Faith, hope, and love
Sometimes kids want their parents to tell them something like: “I love you, and everything is going to be alright.”
What do you say when a kid wants you to say that?
We’re all kids inside. What do you say when a seeming adult wants you to say that?
To be perfectly rational you’d have to say something like this:
“Well, I mostly love you. Or at least I believe I love you. But research has shown that people can mislead themselves about their own beliefs, not to mention misleading other people. So I might not.
But assuming that I firmly believe that love you. Psychological research provides evidence that our feelings are always ambivalent and influenced by past events. So I think it’s likely that I am still a little upset about your behavior the last few days, not to mention prior days. I want to be over it, but I know that I can’t get over things as fast as I would like.
“As to how things will go? I think that most things will go mostly right. But everything? No way I can say that. We live in an uncertain and chaotic universe. No one can ever know with perfect certainty what’s going to happen.
However we don’t need perfect knowledge to live in the world. Based on my Bayesian priors about how the things that you are worried about are likely to go, I think that they will turn out in a way that is acceptable to you, and likely better than that.”
“But everything? There is a high likelihood that somewhere in the vastness of universe a sun is going nova right now and if there are any conscious beings within hundreds of light years, things are about to go very badly for them.
“Sorry, but that’s the best I can do.
Once when things had gotten really, really tough, I asked Bobbi to tell me “I love you and things are going to be alright.” I had to tell her: “You don’t have to believe it; Or even mean it; I just need to hear you say it,” and she did. It happened again. And again.
Eventually, I didn’t need the qualifiers.
More than once and I’ve said it to her.
And I’ve said it to our kids.
If someone wants you to say “I love you and everything is going to be alright,” I think the right answer is to say it.
Daniel challenged me to say why. I'm glad he did. I learned that I knew something that I didn't know that I knew.
Here’s the why that I wrote:
You can answer such a request in the framework of facts, or the framework of faith, and love.
The factual answer is the horrible one at the start of this post. Or something like it.
The faith and love answer is: “I love you, and everything is going to be alright.”
If asked: “How can you be sure?” the factual answer is: “I can’t be sure. No one can be sure about anything. But I believe it is likely to be true.”
The faith and love answer is: “I am sure. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Sometimes the right framework is facts.
Sometimes it’s faith and love.
If someone asked me: “How do you know which one to use?”
My answer would be:
“I just know.”
I wrote the draft version of my answer to him from my head and my heart. It's been edited, but the gist is the same: faith and love as an alternative to facts.
It reminded me of something that seemed relevant.
A little Googling found the reference:
I Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
So closed with this:
I have long been guided by reason. I have tried to be.
But more and more I am guided by faith, hope, and love as well as reason. [Ed: I forgot about hope in the draft. But I’ve written about it before.]
Faith, hope, and love.
So what is love?
I Corinthians 13:4-7 does a poetic job of saying what love is:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
That’s something to aspire to.
I certainly do.
Nerd note: the King James Version uses “charity” instead of “love.” This is fortunate because otherwise the lyrics to the Don Cornell Song “The Bible tells me so” don’t work:
Have faith, hope and charity
That’s the way to live successfully
How do I know, the Bible tells me so.
But Nerds Never Rest(TM)
The word being translated from the Greek is
According to my understanding, bolstered by [this Wikipedia article] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agape), it’s better translated as love, Don Cornell to the contrary.
So faith, hope, and love.
And the greatest of these is love.