The world has long known that the clockwise roll of the wobbly wheel on which the fates and fortunes of men are borne depends much on the sway of faith and reason, the golden power couple of our universe. Reason steers that wheel, but it is faith alone that moves it.
For some mysterious reason, it is the curse of nature that most of us will not possess both faith and reason in potent proportions. People of great faith are almost always lacking in reason, while people possessed of great reason often suffer from a pitiful lack of faith. So it always happens that people of great faith can move the world but cannot steer it, while people possessed of great reason excel at steering the world but are hopeless at moving it.
An eloquent historical demonstration of this fact played out before the world’s eyes at the dawn of global exploration in the sixteenth century. For a thousand years before that, men had applied their powers of reason to figure out what plights and sights awaited the sailor who set off on a straight-line sail right through the horizon. All great minds who applied themselves to this question were agreed that such a sailor would surely fall off the edge of the earth right into a bed of frightful monsters. And so for a thousand years, terror-stricken sailors hugged their shores, afraid to wander off far into the oceans where the mirage of the sea edge stood. No new lands were therefore discovered through all this time, and the cultures of the six continents continued to exist in near-isolation as they had done all through the preceding ages. This paralysis was the effect of excessive reliance on reason, and littered the face of the earth with stunted civilizations. Then came along the great explorers Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus, and Ferdinand Magellan, all men of great faith.
Driven by winds and faith, Magellan sailed westwards from Spain in 1519 right into the stale dark myth of a cliff-like sea that still hung stubbornly over the oceans, and was to stick doggedly to his odyssey for three long years at the end of which his ship, which had departed Europe laden with fruit and fresh water, returned laden with fresh truth and proof that far from being flat, the world was indeed round and there were no waterfalls nested in its oceans. So by one stroke of indomitable faith, Magellan had in three years moved the world from the age of isolation to the age of exploration, a feat that had eluded men of reason for a thousand years.
Like the sages before Magellan, many of us spend our lives deterred from venturing forth and claiming our fortune by monsters that are the creation of our powers of reason. And for many of us, this paralysis lasts a lifetime. How sad! There is a simple reason why we suffer so: our education system only teaches us the ways of reason but not the ways of faith because its architects little understood that while reason steers a man, it is faith alone that moves him. So they all failed to appreciate that the purpose of an education must be to engender reason in our minds and faith in our hearts. Consequently, the only men of faith and reason in our midst are those who were born with the gift of faith or went out of their way to cultivate it in themselves. It is such people who drive and steer the world. (To learn how to build yourself into a person of faith, see my new book The Success Genome Unravelled)
(Author-poet Agona Apell is the author of The Success Genome Unravelled: Turning men from rot to rock)