Recently I’ve been talking to many people and we talk about many different things. Naturally they want to talk about where I come from, what brings me here to their small country etc, and I want to know about them, their country and culture.
Conversations sometimes also turn to faith and I’ve been amazed at the regularity with what comes the reply that they believe in “nothing”. I’m not one for organized religion and church and that is never really the question I ask. I find that Slovenian’s even more so then their Slavic brothers lack spiritual aptitude.
I am well aware of the events of the last 50-plus years and that the socialist teachings play a big part in this but it has been 15 years since, Isn’t that enough time to start thinking? I know many middle-aged people who one way or another have drifted back or whole-heartily embraced the faith of their forefathers and the Catholic Church in either word or deed, and find a measure of peace and that is great, but what about the youth?
I know many of my generation here who are disillusioned with the Catholic church for one reason or another, be it hypocrisy, scandal, political involvement, or what have you. Knowing what you don’t like is only half of the thought process.
Slovenia is a new country (as far as being free and independent) and has the unique opportunity to start anew and give their citizens the best political, social, and moral based society possible.
When it comes to faith I see that many young people ( aged 15-35) need to ask more questions, one thing I think they inherited from socialism is the inability to rationalize and they just take things at face value and lack the ability to really ask themselves and their society the hard questions like why am I here, what will I do with my life, where am I going.
The youth are the future of this country, if they do not find these answers personally and then address them on a national level this country will be like a rudderless ship drifting in the ocean and in the next few decades will run aground of it’s own doing and will end up like much of the western world with a moralise society that took hundreds of years for them to accomplish.
I remember back in 2001, I was in Croatia and I was hanging out with a friend of mine and it got cold walking in the park so we went to a small bar to get something warm to drink.
When we ordered hot tea, the waitress asked “fruit tea, or mint”? As this was a small bar so they only kept two types of tea in stock to choose from.
I thought it was a bit odd and told my friend Jasmina that if this was the case in my country people would simply walk out if they did not have the flavored tea they wanted, even I had more tea choices then that in my kitchen. She said that this is how it has always been here and you simply learn to like fruit or mint tea, get warm, and be happy.
While I admire that kind of contentment and keeping life simple it did start making me think. I looked around more and saw this for myself in other areas too, especially reflected in the consumer market in this region that until the last few years and globalization hitting the supermarket shelves, there were little more then two choices of a product to chose from of anything. Usually a state-run industry product and an import and then it were usually just a matter of simple economics.
We’ve radically altered the shopping experience, but are we still as limited in our faith?
In this case the “fruit or mint” is Catholic or atheist. I think people have been kind of unfairly divided into two camps, those that feel any need for the spiritual have to be Catholic and those that don’t are atheist. The two choices system has turned many “would-be customers” away simply because it is a little harder to acquire a “taste” for these ideologies then tea.
I am not a religious scholar or have any formal education on the matter but I know that faith (not religion and tradition) plays a big part in my daily life. It is not hinged on the faith of my ancestors, my education, or what my parents expect of me, but from my heart.
I can say I have found inner peace, a purpose for living, and belief in an afterlife. Those are fundamental beliefs of many different religions.
I have looked at religions and philosophies, visited ancient religions of the east, read the Koran (in English), and the book of Mormon. I have rationalized them all, I even ruled out the possibility of a God for a time, but the important thing is He never did, and He’s made himself abundantly clear to me and has given me faith.
I talked with a guy the other day in his twenties here in Ljubljana and he said that he was born in socialism and was given no faith, so today he has no faith. I find that a pretty lame excuse. If his dad would say he can borrow the family car to take his girlfriend out if he can find the car keys he’d do everything in his power to find them.
The same goes for faith, we can find it if we are willing and desperate enough to look. The problem is so few people seem to be looking, be it for lack of time or interest.
I think one thing that has contributed to this in Slovenia is the fact that the transition to independence went relatively smoothly and that before religion was ‘discouraged’ rather then ‘outlawed’ making it less black and white then it was in other socialist states like the U.S.S.R and China. War and opposition bring out faith in people, Slovenia has not had that testing in recent times and faith has not been awakened either in many people.
Like the saying goes “if you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything”, their sure seems to be a falling for capitalism and momentary happiness in material things here at the moment. What if all that is suddenly gone? All we’ll have left is our faith.
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