We all are believers


I was never really drawn to Arnol Kox, Eindhoven’s city preacher who died recently. I tolerated him like many; he was just there. But recently, shortly before his death, he said something that touched me: “We all are believers.” Now I can see the atheists jumping up… But he was right as he added: “Some believe in God and cannot prove his existence. Others believe he does not exist and cannot prove that either. So in the end we all are believers.”

That made me think: faith and believing are much broader than religion. It is something fundamental that keeps us going. Every day, all your life. Without faith in the future you will no longer progress. And it is a blessing not to know what is still to come, because if we did we would no longer live our lives, but just try to change fate. So we resign ourselves to not knowing and believe it will all be okay. Due to ourselves, a greater power or a little bit of both. This crisis is a good example of this. If we knew now that these restrictions last for years, we would be very uncomfortable. So we live day by day. And albeit a bit rougher, our life continues with or without corona, luckily. The shopping continues, the aging continues, the search for a house continues (and the exorbitantly high prices for those houses also keep up, sigh) and work continues (fortunately). And if our life ends unexpectedly, wouldn’t you like to say you made the most of it? So you work hard for what you want. And take time to reflect on what you are doing. This is the only way to make progress. By sometimes taking a step back. And patting yourself on the back every now and then, especially when no one else does, for what you have achieved.

To go back to religion: the combination of fate and hard work I saw beautifully visualized in Islam some years ago. ‘Mektub and Sebab’. The first word refers to what is written for you, your destiny. The second is about your own actions, your efforts. Of course there are things out there for you, but you will not get everything handed to you on a silver platter; you have to work for it. I think you should see life and fate in the same way. At least, I choose to see them that way. The Hadith cites an example of a man and a camel. The prophet asked the man, “Why didn’t you tie your camel? To which the man said, “I have entrusted him to Allah.” To which the Prophet replied, “Tie your camel and then trust in Allah.” That summarizes all of this: believe in the good, but do not be reckless with what you have been given.


A graffiti tribute to Arnol Kox made in the Berenkuil in Eindhoven. Picture by me.

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