The Power Of Belief  

Many impressive things have been done in the name of religion, but I stumbled upon one of the most striking the other day. For 40 years, one Russian family of five had voluntarily cut off all human contact and lived in isolation in the frigidly cold taiga. Karp Lykov, the patriarch of the family, had been an Old Believer and when the Old Believers were persecuted in the 1930s, he decided that rather than renounce his religion he would escape into the taiga along with his wife and two children.

They eked out a bleak existence for over 40 years before being rediscovered by a team of Russian scientists. Karp’s wife died of starvation just years into their exile, and by the time they had been found again they were primarily subsisting off potatoes, rye, and hemp seeds as they had long lost the ability to cook food after their metal pots had rusted beyond use.

Shortly after contact all but one member of the entire family was extinguished by a combination of kidney failure and infection. Three of the four remaining children died in 1981. Karp died in 1988. The remaining daughter, Agafia, chose to remain alone on the taiga, and has been there ever since.

She’s now in her 70s. She was born on the taiga and she’ll almost certainly die there, having virtually had no outside human contact.

Without belief, without purpose, we flounder. Yet with it, we’re able to flourish in the bleakest of conditions – or, at least, voluntarily choose to weather those conditions as best we can.

I’m not a believer, but I greatly admire what lengths believers are able to go to in the name of their belief. And that brings us to my question for today:

It’s all well and good for those of us who have found our purpose, but what of those who yet have none? Are we condemned to flounder at the bottom of the ocean? Or is there some way yet for us to draw on the same strength as those who lead with a purpose?

Sorry, were you expecting an answer? I just ask the questions.


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