[William] James’ central argument in “The Will to Believe” hinges on the idea that, for certain beliefs, truth or at least our access to the evidence of their truth, depends crucially upon our first adopting those beliefs without sufficient evidence. For example, sometimes it is only through first believing upon insufficient evidence that we will be able to carry out some hard task that we actually become capable of accomplishing that hard task.
In virtue of this dependency of truth on belief, James argues that it can be rational for us to have faith in our own ability to accomplish tasks that require confidence even if at the time we lack sufficient evidence for whether we truly possess that ability. This is true to life for me because although I was not able to pursue seminary studies after graduation from Holy Cross College or engage in youth counseling the call to do so and the belief that I would one day find a way to do so has always remained an important and driving force for me (Kasser and Shah, 2006). “1
William James said…
If you want a quality, act as if you already had it. 2
It is only recently in my life that I began to “systematically and earnestly, every day”, for the last three years, to increase my knowledge in related areas, to make time to develop my own spiritual practices, and to actively seek opportunities where I might become directly involved in helping others to further their personal development. When describing the “Methods of Training of The Will”, Roberto Assagioli, M.D. emphasizes the importance of “preparation”.
To ensure success, it is of paramount importance that a proper preparation be made to create the initial urge and impetus; this preparation should arose a lively, fervid and even passionate desire to develop the will, leading to the firm decision to do all that is necessary for attaining that end. 3
In the summer of 2009, as a volunteer with Immanuel Bible Church of Howell, New Jersey, I traveled to Camden, New Jersey where I would spend one week at KIDS ALLEY. Kids Alley is the main program of One Accord Inc., a nonprofit faith-based organization that reaches out to inner-city children and their families with weekly programs. Participating youth live in Camden, New Jersey, considered the most violent and impoverished cities in our country. Sixty-five (65%) percent of its population consists of at-risk children. Kids Alley has been boldly reaching out to the children in Camden since 1998 with a mission, a vision, and a promise to help others in building a brighter future.
Kids Alley started with a Saturday morning program, focusing on children ages 3-12 and their families. Their Saturday morning program in which I served as a volunteer is a FUN filled, highly energized atmosphere consisting of a unique and creative blend of games, music, drama, puppetry, Bible lessons, creative and technical arts, and contemplation and prayer. The program embraces the children with love and empowers them with practical teaching for victorious daily living. The Kids Alley program ensures that all its children actively participate and every child feels like a winner. At the end of the program, each child leaves daily with a nutritious bagged lunch.
The Kids Alley ministry focuses on key Biblical principles and is the emphasis in everything that takes place. Along with between twenty to thirty adolescent youth and a number of parents from three different churches, together we converged on Kids Alley to help successfully run the 2009 summer program for one of the two weeks that the program was provided. It was a life-changing experience for me.
The activities that I participated in ranged from indoor and outdoor arts, crafts, recreational games and sports, formal classroom instruction, and personally assisting kids who were experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties during program hours. I enjoyed all aspects of the program and received high praise from Pastor Vivian Tan, Founder and Director of Kids Alley for my overall contribution to the program, help in supporting the efforts of the young volunteers, and in helping to make sure the participating kids found enjoyment. This volunteer experience served as an affirmation for me that this is where I am best able to have a positive impact in the lives of others. Whatever good I have to offer I believe comes out of my ability to return to the unpleasant experience of having been an abused, angry, disadvantaged, self-conscious and single-parented child myself. A few of the kids participating in the program had history of being difficult to manage. I spent extra time with them and some went on to have a very good school year, becoming noticeably more well-mannered and self-confident throughout their continuing participation in the Kids Alley Saturday morning program.
- Kasser, J.,and Sha, N. The Metaethics of Belief: An Expressivist Reading of “The Will to Believe”. Social Epistemology Vol. 20, No. 1, January–March 2006, pp. 1–17. Taylor & Francis