As I read and listen to international reports of countries beginning to reopen businesses despite their being no vaccine or indisputably effective antidote for the disease and amidst the ongoing necessity of face masks, contact tracing, widespread testing, physical distancing, etc., I have come to a blunt conclusion.
All of this reopening experiment is irrefutable evidence of governments exercising, albeit tacitly, the virtues of faith and hope that such governmental bigwigs would normally regard as “non-scientific” religious concepts.
In light of this I share below a brief talk I was invited to share at UTECH’s pre-planned 2019 Staff Awards Ceremony after news broke of the passing of two UTECH giants, Martin Henry and Edward Seaga. At the time I was an Academic Advisory Board member pro tem.
I said: “It may be rebutted but it cannot be refuted that no one can live and no academic discipline can operate without faith and hope, properly defined!
So, I boldly declare that in the context of this Staff Awards ceremony against the sad backdrop of the death of 2 UTECH giants. a brief reflection on the twin-sister virtues, faith and hope, is timely for contemplation and for coping.
Let me specially define these virtues then assign one virtue to our late Chancellor the Rt. Honourable Edward Phillip George Seaga and the other to our Academic Manager, Martin Henry.
Faith is belief, based on, but slightly in excess of evidence. Hope, if you must know, is confident assurance about the ‘not yet’. I repeat for your remembrance.
Now an attempt at proving ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ the accuracy of my definitions. In case you are unaware of it nothing in the Academy or in life can attract a higher level of proof than the legal ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ (except in mathematics, which, for me, is a kind of language-game science and not untinged by faith).
Faith is involved somewhat in mathematics, follow me closely now as I bare my jugular, suicidally, to the Mathematicians in the house by confessing that when I sat the subject at GCE O’Levels in 1967, I managed only a credit not a distinction.
But take the series 1 + ½ + ¼ + 1/8 + 1/16, what is the sum of the series up to infinity?
That sum is 2 at infinity, but infinity is a faith construct! When, what is infinity and why can’t the series with the addition of smaller fractions go on ad infinitum?
So, if my reasoning is correct even the purest of the sciences employs faith, ok logical faith, belief based on but slightly in excess of the evidence. Are you with me?
This virtue ‘faith’ I assign to Martin Henry because he like the mathematicians employed logical faith albeit for Martin. faith in the evidence for the life, ministry, death and bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as God in flesh. I think Martin would join me in raising questions on the subjectivist popular Christian song ‘He Lives” which offers non-evidentially “you ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart”.
What do you and I do which does not involve faith? Crossing a road with cars flying low, marrying until death part us, eating out or trusting that your helper won’t poison your food. Keeping fit, eating right to stay alive and an aneurism/embolism bumps you off. We believe all will be well but only to a high degree of probability or ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ never absolutely. Faith, an indispensable virtue.
If faith is a crutch then everybody uses that crutch. What is the calibre of your crutch?
It helps in coping with Mr. Henry’s death to recall that he reposed faith in a future resurrection from the dead to a qualitatively better existence than he enjoyed here, with God as guarantee/guarantor of that.
Faith in the Infinite-Personal God of the Bible, good for life and in death and beyond.
Now hope I said is confident assurance of the ‘not yet’, and we all indulge that. Confidence in every ‘not yet’ involves hope. Even your wish that I’ll shut up very soon is hope.
I assign this virtue to Mr. Seaga, because of that memorable political event of 1980 in my hometown Montego Bay. You no doubt remember it. Hope might have been very challenged in Mr. Seaga’s life then, what with the PNP’s media mantra ringing in his ears “150,000 strong can’t be wrong”. Now at the time I said in my circle “su much smaddy cyaan hole inna Sam Sharpe Square” [the square cannot hold so many people]. But since the estimated number was attested by the Police and others, who was I to question that allegation.
But as it turned out if they were really there and strong they were very wrong. Landslide defeat for the PNP.
Hope I say is fundamental in life but oh so fragile. The difference among humans is not that some hope but others never indulge that nonsense. No, we are all creatures of hope. Confident assurance about the ‘not yet’ is hope whether that ‘not yet’ is later today, tomorrow or when your nest egg matures or whatever.
We all hope, and it is the guarantee or guarantor beneath our hope that determines whether it is confident realism as opposed to blind optimism. You know the old village tradition, when in a dark area and afraid “whistle and keep your company”. But dat a eediat business [not smart] because no matter how loudly you whistle a yu wan di deh still [ you are still alone].
The close family of our Chancellor and all of us within this University family can cope with his death by genuine hope grounded in God.
A friend asked me if Mr. Seaga was saved. My response: “I don’t know, I am not the 4th member of the trinity.”
Friends, staff members, maintain faith and hope that you will be duly awarded today but even if not, life goes on. We all miss Mr. Henry and Mr. Seaga but still keep faith and hope alive as we try to cope without their physical presence and ongoing contribution to the life of our beloved University and do remember their families in your prayers if you pray. Lord bless.
Rev. Clinton Chisholm is the author of the recently published book A Controversial Clergyman. His online course on critical thinking based on the book will soon be available.