Of blind faith and deliberate deception

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” according to Hebrews 11:1, and this biblical declaration still stands as the most concise definition of faith.  Exercising faith means we believe in, or expect to receive, something that, as yet, we are unable to perceive with our senses.  In essence, it is a “blind” faith based on the word of God.

There is another kind of faith, a “human” faith, where we put our trust in the laws of nature – such as gravity, or, on the other hand, buoyancy – and in man-made inventions.  For instance, when we turn the key in the ignition, we trust that our car will start; when we flick the light switch, we expect the electricity will come one; and when we turn the faucet, we expect to get water.

We also put our human faith in people. This is a good faith to have, because it means that we have earned the trust of people with whom we interact, and, in turn, we expect them to be who they represent themselves to be and to act accordingly.  We expect love, acceptance and support from our family; we expect loyalty from our friends; we expect our teachers to educate us; and we expect our doctors to make us better.

But with human faith, we are always intellectually aware that there may be failings that could compromise trust, such as when the car battery dies, or when a loved one fails us. This is as it should be.  In the United Progressive Party camp, it is often said that the word “die-hard” does not apply to supporters.  To the chagrin of some, those who put their X for UPP candidates regularly and publicly take them to task for what they have done or not done, and demand that they shape up lest they be shipped out. They ask searching questions, and then question the answers.  And they will tell those who wonder where their loyalty lies that their support must be earned and not taken for granted.

But listening to Finance Minister Harold Lovell in OBSERVER Radio’s Snakepit on Saturday, as, once again, he detailed the alleged IHI fraud perpetrated by prominent members of the Antigua Labour Party against the people of Antigua & Barbuda, it became apparent that there is an entire segment of our population for whom blind faith has nothing whatsoever to do with biblical principles and everything to do with the politicians they choose to idolise.  It is what John Wesley once warned against; what he called the “the mental assault” or “faith of the head” that defies human logic or reason.

The allegations speak to millions of dollars diverted from the coffers of the taxpayers – that means us – and into the bank accounts of individuals who, at the time, were government officials who should have had the country’s interest at heart.  Lovell reiterated that since the alleged theft had been uncovered and since the present government has been attempting to resolve the matter through the courts, these ALP politicians have been expending an enormous amount of energy and finances on frustrating the process in order to conceal their possible misdeeds.

The accused have offered no emphatic denial of the allegations; shown no eagerness to prove their innocence; provided no records or proof to the contrary; nor given any permission to examine and investigate.  Instead, there have been more than 40 injunctions filed in the courts, on their behalf, to impede the investigations; which begs the question: If there is nothing to hide, why hide it?

But what is troubling in this saga is the apparent nonchalance of the ALP members and supporters and their seeming indifference to the accusations.  There seems to be no agitation in the camp; no burning desire to know the truth; no determination to ask the hard questions or demand straight answers.  Is it, one wonders, that their blind faith has rendered them incapable of understanding that these misdeeds were perpetrated against them, too; that it is their money that has been ripped off; that it is their country that has been plundered; and that, in the end, if these charges prove true, it is their trust and their faith that would have been irretrievably shattered?  Are they so anesthetised, so soul-dead, that they are incapable of even believing that their revered politicians are capable of such impropriety?

In the run-up to the 2004 election, Lester Bird  implied that all the bright and intelligent people are on the other side of the political divide.   Might this belief explain the impunity with which the party operates and the reason those accused feel no obligation to explain or to be accountable to the people who support them?  For it would appear that the perceived lack of intellect in their camp has given these politicians licence to indulge in deliberate deception.

For those who need to be reminded, Jonestown is a prime example of blind faith and also a poignant reminder that blind faith and implicit trust have no place in human relationships.  It is important to remember, too, that it was not the poison-laced Kool-Aid that killed Jim Jones.

But for the bullet of a deceived follower/worshipper that felled him, Jones could have picked a path through the 900-plus bodies of his loyal followers and walked to a new freedom.

Quite literally, a life lesson in die-hard support. …