In the book A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, there’s a moment when the tree monster is telling the main character, a boy called Conor, a story about the tree’s past.

The tree is using these stories to teach Conor about life, and how to deal with different situations.

In this particular story, the tree talks of a parson and how the tree punished this parson for something he’d let happen.

I won’t spoil the story or the book by describing the punishment (and the lead -up to it) as A Monster Calls is a wonderful book that should be read by everyone.

However, one of the things the tree said stuck in my head:

“Belief is half of all healing. Belief in the cure, belief in the future that awaits. And here was a man who lived on belief, but who sacrificed it at the first challenge, right when he needed it the most.”

In the context of the book, it’s a powerful enough commentary, since you know – as the reader – how much the loss of belief had cost the pastor.

But even on their own, the words “belief is half of all healing” are so true, so meaningful, that they’re relevant to any situation.

You Don’t Have to Believe to Believe

I’m an atheist. I stopped believing in God and religion when I was about nine or ten years old.

I respect the beliefs of others for whatever their God is, I just can’t buy into the “one God over all others” mindset and education.

Since becoming an atheist, and especially in my adult years, I’ve had some interesting discussions with friends and peers of all religious backgrounds, as well as folks who are agnostic.

One of the things that come up is the “but if you don’t believe in a God – any God – doesn’t that mean you don’t believe in things like spirituality and pre-ordained futures?”

To which I usually reply that they’re not mutually exclusive.

For example, I’m not a Christian, but I’ll celebrate Christmas. However, instead of celebrating it as the birth of Christ, I’ll celebrate it as a time for giving, for loving, for being with family and people that matter to you.

Spirituality is an interesting beast. For me, spirituality can be believed in more than God, because it’s about overall faith as opposed to servitude to a sole deity.

For example, I have faith that no matter what shit show is about to hit the U.S. as the Trump era begina, good people will rise and counter any hate or ignorance that comes as part of his Presidency.

But I don’t believe there’s a God that will keep Trump on the straight and narrow.

For me, that’s the crucial difference – true belief is hope, as opposed to believing in something that is, logically speaking, impossible to come to fruition.

To the point of the tree monster’s words, belief is half of all healing, I believe:

  • Love can overcome hate in the long run
  • We’re not born with hate in us, which means we can prevent hate from forming
  • There is room in the world for all religions or no religion
  • If there was no religious divide, humanity would win
  • People are inherently good – we just need to nurture that.

Of course, all of the above could be simple naivety on my part – but like the great John Lennon once said, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Belief is half of all healing. Get that half right, and we’re already halfway to a better world.

Which is something I can truly believe in.

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