Last night I had an interesting thought. I was reading the introduction to a book of essays on euphemisms, and the author said something to the effect of something or other “reducing our shaky faith in humanity.” For some reason, this really struck me. Of course, it’s nothing I haven’t read, heard, or even said before. Because I have said things about so-and-so doing something to “restore my faith in humanity.” My thought was basically, What the crap?!
Where, oh where, did this supposed “faith in humanity” come from? Why do we have it or how did we lose it? If we are Christians, why are we admitting that we have put any faith in human-kind at all?
Coming from a non-Christian, I don’t suppose the phrase would bother me all that much. But, now that I have thought about it, I don’t believe it is something that a Christian should be saying.
Now, I do realize that the phrase refers to the fact that humanity as a whole is pretty screwed up, and continues to screw up, but every once in a while we hear something that this or that person does for good or the betterment of others. My problem comes from the “restore” part of the usual phrase. “Restore” indicates that before humanity got all screwy, at one point the one commenting had some faith that humanity was good and kind and wonderful, and then messed up. But the Bible tells us that “there is none righteous, no not one” and “all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rms 3:10, 23). This is not something that just happened – since the beginning of time, when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, man has been guilty of a sin nature. There has been nothing in which to put our faith since man is naturally a fallen, evil creature.
Also, from a Christian perspective, we are explicitly told not to put faith in the things of this world, but in Jesus Christ. He is the only one worthy of our faith, the only one that will not let us down or fail us. He came to this world in order to save humanity. Now, how can anyone put faith in a thing which needed to be saved by an external force?
I suppose that, what I am getting at is a need to be hyper-aware of our speech and what our speech indicates. I don’t really believe that a true Christian that says that something has “restored his/her faith in humanity” actually has put some sort of deep faith in it, but that is what can be taken from that phrase. I know that I have used this phrase before and never thought about it. But now that I have realized the connotations, I am somewhat embarrassed at myself for not taking care of my words and paying attention to them. Plus, regardless of the above points, it really is a bit of a cliche. Shame, shame on me.
So! Think about what you say! Mean what you say! Don’t use cliches just because they’re in your head and you don’t feel like taking the time to think of something that actually reflects what you mean/feel/believe. Yes!
(On a related note, I don’t know if this all made very much sense. I am tired, and my brain is tired, and I should be working on a paper about euphemisms. But writing this was more fun.)