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Faith

This page isn't about acquiring the patience of a saint. Or martyrdom. Simply put, the great religions have survived so long because each addresses an essential human quest--for a relationship with the divine--as well as the all-too-common failures, which teach us what being human means. Faith can help whistleblowers survive the craziness. Dysfunctional systems are definitely human--sometimes more like cults than long-organized religions. [And wouldn't a bullyboss be furious to hear that comparison!] So these spiritual systems have evolved both individual and community resources, some of which can help deal with the retaliation.

Spirituality is a lot more than speculation about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Varied spiritual resources exist to be discovered. Read the psalms and realize you are not alone. Argue with God--Job did it, Jonah did it, St. Theresa of Avila did it, and probably Jesus too.

What to do? Take a breath. Retreat from the world. Contemplate or meditate a bit. [Please, make it a temporary rather than a permanent escape. There may be a heckufalotta dark nights, yet this writer firmly believes both that "God don't create no junk" and that praying to reach land safely is no substitute for taking up an oar too.] Then, listen to the silence. Maybe the stress will lessen. Maybe too you will understand the reason Elijah heard the "still, small voice" or "the sound of sheer silence" after the tempest, earthquake and fire.

One problem, of course, is figuring out what that voice is really saying. Each of us has preconceived ideas, which can well seem a "still, small voice" (especially for those of us not accustomed to talk aloud to ourselves!). Also, the "still, small voice" may well seem crazy. Who wouldn't question God (or at least feel a little self-doubt) after getting pounded by a retaliating jerk? Assurances that God's voice quiets the soul often seem little comfort, because that could also be what therapists call "denial." Of course, the very concept of being "called" seems a kind of megalomania. Even worse, the major religions all talk about the harassment set upon the "servants of God." That sounds like an invitation to paranoia or simple grandiosity. Who wants to be a prophet? And it's crazy to become a martyr in the modern sense of the world (although the ancient word simply meant "witness" and early Christians honored those who received martyrdom after doing their best to avoid it, not suicidal crazies).

Spiritual community can help discern the still, small voice, or simply lessen the isolation. Go to a church or mosque or synagogue, or shop around (in a non-monetary sense, of course) a little to find your community. Personally, I wouldn't advise taking up any of the new Eastern-based religions (unless that is your background), since they often become cults in the West, without the safeguards established in their traditional homelands. Private consultations with a recognized spiritual counselor such as a priest or rabbi can also really help a whistleblower who realizes that angst has a spiritual dimension. Then as the doors to the spiritually unhealthy places and people close, new and better ones can open. OK, it sounds a cliche, like the one about there being no atheists in fox holes ....

Back to safer territory. Usually both religious counselors themselves and courts honor the "seal of the confessional." Remember, however, that legal confidentiality may also rest on the counselor's qualifications and the religion's practices. For example, Christian practice is that priests must honor the privacy of matters disclosed in the confessional, but monks and nuns may not have the same authority. Many non-clerical religious have degrees or certifications in pastoral counseling, which may so qualify for the same confidentiality privilege as any other mental health professional. On the other end of the spirituality spectrum, a trusted friend, such as a sponsor in a 12-Step program, is usually not an accredited mental health professional, no matter now much those programs stress the need for confidentiality.