Risk Without Faith is Not Risk
Risk is synonymous with uncertainty and so any risk involves a ‘leap of faith’. The word ‘faith’ is one of the many silences of safety, in fear that the word conveys some religious interpretation. The nervousness and anxiety around the word ‘faith’ says much about an industry that is so naïve about faith, it endorses its own religiosity and soteriology through such ignorance. I even read writers in safety who apologise for using the word (eg. Dekker in his book on Suffering)
The word ‘faith’ is not some word exclusive to religion, we use it all the time and not in religious context. It simply means ‘trust and confidence in someone or something without evidence or proof’.
Every time I get in my car I have faith I will get to my destination. There is no evidence I will get safety to my desired destination other than a precedent that I have done so before. But all risk involves unknowns, uncertainties and no guarantees; such is every ‘leap of faith’. Our daily lives put trust in many things every hour, in things we don’t ‘know’ nor have any guarantee about.
Living by faith as we do, as fallible beings, is not a rational thing. Indeed, many of the decisions we make are emotional and unconscious which involve very little rational activity at all. Most of our decisions are heuristical, automatic, unconscious and faith-based.
When we trust someone we love, we don’t ‘know’ for sure the outcome, we only have some evidence in the past that sustains our faith, but there is no guarantee. There is no fool-proof predictability. This is why people get so injured and hurt when faith and trust in someone or something lets them down. We have heard so much this week in Australia about the abuse of people in power who were trusted (https://safetyrisk.net/silence-power-and-an-ethic-of-risk/). Most abuse comes from people we have faith in.
Faith is so foundational to most decisions that we make each day that we enact ‘leaps of faith’ constantly on a daily basis. Faith and fallibility go hand in glove. As much as people love the idea of predicting the future and data prediction mythology, there is no certainty. I have defined risk as:
‘the faith and trust required to suspend uncertainty to take an action’
You can download the poster here: https://spor.com.au/downloads/posters/
This is why all of my books involve a ‘leap of faith’ over a chasm (https://www.humandymensions.com/shop/ ). Life is like this. Learning to live in risk makes sense (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/risk-makes-sense/). Risk is not the enemy of fallibility, it is the joy of life. If there was no risk, there would be no faith or learning.
I have written about this before:
One of the best places to start with an easy read on the nature of faith is here: https://www.kent.ac.uk/scarr/events/Mollering.pdf
The important thing is not to be afraid of the word ‘faith’. It’s not a word we should fear in safety, it is inseparable from risk, trust and helping. People in safety need to know that we have faith and trust in them and that such faith is about the best we have in ‘feeling safe’.