Faith is a vital concept. It implies blindly trusting in something you cannot perceive and sometimes understand.
One of the most common forms of faith is framed around religion. Religion is a school of thought in which you have complete faith in a God and all His teachings and principles – the latter being often part of human interpretation.
At least, this is what we are taught to believe. But is faith something that we inherit, or is it imposed upon us? Is faith but another example of the nature versus nurture debate?
From the day we are born, many of us are exposed to our parent’s religion. In our cultura Latina, Catholicism is one of the most predominant religions in our community. We are baptized, go to catechism classes to prepare for our first communion, and receive the sacrament of confirmation.
Our parents instill their faith into us from the moment we are born, no questions asked. We hear “Que Dios te bendiga” day in and day out, both in personal settings and in professional settings.
In my motherland, Colombia, religion classes are a regular part of a school’s curriculum.
Seeing as I have spent a significant portion of my life living in the United States, I have always been perplexed about how there is no separation of church and state where I come from. Even as a young child, I wondered, “well, what if they aren’t Catholic? What happens then?”
It is human nature to have a wide range of feelings, such as hope, trust, and optimism. Whether through religion or something else, we feel this innate desire to cling to something when we are going through a difficult time.
This is when faith seems to be an intrinsic part of us. We immediately repeat those old prayers and hymns our parents and grandparents taught us, thus confirming the suspicion faith is indeed inherited. However, everything else, such as the church and religion, are things that are taught.
Growing up in the United States, my parents always tried to maintain my identity as a Latina. As a result, I was placed in a Catholic school for a few years. Amiga, I’m going to be honest with you, I never felt like I fit in there. I would see how many of my classmates truly felt moved by the scriptures, and I felt absolutely nothing.
Meanwhile, there I was, mixing my education with faith, and it could not have felt more insincere to me at the time. The fact that this is imposed on many of us shows that this was more a choice than a part of who we are.
As an adult, I have created my own version of my faith that aligns with my values and what I believe in. So, my “inherited” human nature is to be hopeful and cling to the desire for certain things to happen to me, but the things I believe in and my morality come from what I have chosen to follow.
What does faith mean to you?