Later on, when we grew into our teens and our twenties, our benign ignorance turned into many unanswered questions, and those questions mounted. Who is god? Why are we here? How come we don’t pray? I even asked my mother to weigh in when I was twelve years old, “what do we believe mom?”
I grew up part of an incredibly small Druze minority. While looking around at Druze gatherings, I would frequently muse to myself, “is that everyone?” Other kids outside of my community seemed like they had it all figured out. They knew who god was, how the world was created, and how we fit into it. “Incredible!”, I used to think followed by, “what the hell is wrong with us?”
Another twenty years passed by and the gray hair wrestled the youth off my head. Forty is not really the new thirty if you consider the obligatory back stretching and endless weight loss debates. It is, however, the time I finally realized what had happened. I had the privilege of deciding what my mind would believe, or whether I should believe anything at all.
For most of my adult life, I was free to adopt whatever tenets suited me, picking and choosing, and separating fiction from even wilder fiction. Others outside of my community probably never really changed their religious beliefs. Maybe they didn’t inspect their beliefs much anymore, but they were still there cured like hard concrete over time.
While millions of others have been raised on deeply religious prescriptions leaving little to the imagination, the Druze have been kept largely in the dark. When I was a teen in the United States, I used to think, “how can our spiritual leaders ignore our need to believe!” These beliefs, I thought, would provide good reason for my own obsessive suffering.
Seemingly, the rest of the world focused on what they knew thanks in part to their surplus of religious teachings. In contrast, as Druze we were made to focus on what we did not know. Our intense attention to our own ignorance has kept us in search of the truth, and with an unending thirst for life’s lessons.
What has emerged is a natural invitation towards enlightenment that is uncommon for a shared identity. Ultimately, our historic ignorance as Druze is a bet that has paid off with incredible odds.