Friday, July 15, 2005

Grim Reality

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the real world is not the glorious, fun, and fantastic time that most kids think it is. I was reading the current post by Admin Worm, and something he said struck me:
"I want to believe—and at times have to believe—that some sort of ultimate judgment is coming."
In the best of all possible worlds, we hope that the universe will reward the good and punish the wicked. You want to believe, as Mr. Worm does, that
Josef Mengele was somehow punished for his heinous crimes, but what if he wasn't? What if he got away and lived out his life in luxury? Does mean that the wicked truly aren't punished?
What about the people killed or hurt in the California mudslides? If one of them turned out to be a child molester, would we be ok with his (or her) death?
Now, I am not really a religious person. I've said that many times. Organized religion, to me, has become twisted and evil. Imagine: you can be a Chrisitan, but now you have choose the right way to be a Christian. What if Jesus were still here and heard of this:
"Wait, wait, wait. The Mormons are telling me that only a few people get into Heaven, but the Catholics are telling me that Mary is more important than you, JC. And then there are those Snake Handlers who tell me that if you really like me, and I truly believe in you, then the snake won't kill me."
Look, if you believe in Chrisitanity, then you must understand that evil people and good people really won't be judged now. I have a friend who likes to tell me that because he prays and lives a good life, that God will help him through things and make sure his life is more comfortable than, say, a murderer. However, what if, for example, a few current politicians were involved with shady dealings? Imagine that Ted Kennedy was part of a conspiracy to kill his own brothers. Now, other than the fact that many members of his family are dead, has he really been punished very much? What about someone lesser known like Thad Cochran (R) from Mississippi? What if it were him? He's done quite well. The point is that his punishment wouldn't come now, but rather after he died. That's why it's so strange to me when people say things like, "why would God let that happen?" First of all, don't we have free will? Aren't we allowed to choose (much like Eve with the apple)? Secondly, if "the meek shall inherit the Earth," then why would me question God's motives. Again, I am not a religious person. I'm more of a Taoist at this point than anything. My theories about the universe deal with time and perception, not a man that looks like Sir Laurence Olivier and tells me he has a grand plan.
That same friend of mine always asks me why I don't care about Heaven and Hell. Well, first of all, have you ever been trapped in a non-air conditioned elevator on the 16th floor of a Manhattan building in the middle of a heat wave and all you can hear is someone murdering a tune on what sounds like a clarinet? That's Hell to me (and that happened). My beliefs about Death are not like my friends. I don't believe that God is testing us like they do. They believe you have to live life "right," or God won't let you into Heaven. I choose to believe that if there is an engineer to this train, that he or she or it wouldn't make all of this just a test. With so many things to experience and feel and learn, how can certain things just be plain wrong? That's why organized religion is so strange to me. If you live THIS way, it's ok, but stray and you're damned. What? You like Rock and/ or Roll? To Hell you go!
Now, back to my point. I believe the universe balances everything out. My mother is the smartest person I have ever known. She has an amazing insight into life, people, and more. Her IQ hovers over 180 (which makes me feel very stupid), and she has the ability to make someone feel better with just a few words. And yet, the universe has balanced out those abilities. She has a hard time with meeting new people. She's had to use her ability to make people feel better to deal with two dying sisters and the death of her own mother. She's had to take care of three children as well as nurse my father back from near death and a triple-bypass. She doesn't go to the doctor, so we have no way of knowing what her health is. I love my mother, make no mistake, but I wish she would take better care of herself.
The ultimate show of balance, however, is
Mr. Stephen Hawking. He could easily be the world's smartest person. He understands things that most people can't even pronounce, and yet his body has betrayed him. He has ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig's Disease. His brain is like a Corvette, but his body is easily a Yugo. Again, balance.
Sometimes, however, we see things we don't understand. That's why we want that "ultimate judgement," to occur. "How can that man/woman/country/etc. get away with that?" we ask. "It's not fair." That's the key. What is fair? This will probably get me flamed, but I don't care. I'm trying to make a point. There were so many people killed in the Twin Towers when they fell. We mourned them, as we should. Even convicted rapists have families that mourn their deaths. No one is ever truly a "loner." What if I told you that half of the people who died were part of a group that was trying to screw you out of your money? Do you still feel sorry for them? What if 1/3 of the people who died beat their children? Are you still as angry? Am I saying that that's what those people were? No. Relax. But why is it that when something bad happens to a good person, we get so angry, but when something good happens to an already good person, we get jealous? Admit it. You see someone like the guy in West Virginia who won the Powerball. He was already a millionaire, and he won millions more. Were you angry? Were you secretly happy when his granddaughter died, or his car was stolen, or he was arrested? (See, balance.)
Death is inevitable. Pain is inevitable. Seeing things we don't understand is inevitable. We will always see trial outcomes, deaths, events, and wonder, "Come on God/Fate/Time/ Space/ Murray the man who lives in the Sun. What the hell?" Has anyone ever not thought, "Gee, why me?" We are curious beings. We want to put a face to God, and Heaven, and such, because we fear the unknown. We are afraid of what we don't know. That's why Ghost stories work so well, and that's why we try to understand right and wrong, good and bad. If Mengele got away and lived a good life, then all the people he killed were never avenged. Mengele murdered and never was punished (unless there really is a Heaven and Hell, and then he's burning). We don't want to wait for justice, we want it right now. After 9/11, when they said that it was Osama Bin Laden, a radical Muslim extremist, how many people went out to mosques and attempted to hurt Muslims?
When we talk about wanting justice, we're talking about the Old Testament. We want an eye for an eye. Look at Israel and Palestine. You bomb me, I shoot up a bus, and on and on the retaliations go. It's so unfortunate.
Sorry, I went off on multiple tangents, but the point is still, in my view, solid. Reality, true reality, not television or movies, doesn't always have a happy ending. The bad guy wins, the good guy dies, the towns folk lose their money, and on and on. We don't want it to be that way. We want, we NEED the good people to prosper, and the bad people to be destroyed. It just doesn't work that way all the time. Reality bites, folks, because the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, the world keeps spinning, and we keep getting older.
Still, don't ever stop living, because reality isn't what you thought it would be. And if you're a parent, don't lie to your kids. Tell them the truth about the world. If you shelter them, you're doing them and yourself a disservice. Don't hide the world from them. Instead show them the world so that they are prepared and maybe, just maybe, they can change things (and this from the world's gold medal winning cynic).


Meridita said...

congratulations! it took a day or two, but you found something to say... : )

Leab said...

Ouch! That feels like a dig...(skulks back to his hole.)

Admin Worm said...


Leab, can I be honest? I've been so co-opted by talk radio that I figured since you're a teacher, you would be marching in lock-step with brown shirt wearing, atheistic types. This is the approximately 13,000th time in my life I stand corrected and humbled.

This is really a thoughtful post. Just wonderful. Beautiful work.

Regarding my religion, though you're aware that on odd-numbered days I'm a Christian, I have firmly decided that before I die, I intend to become an honoray member of Zoroastrianism. This way, I can be buried in a "Tower of Silence" when I die.

They take your naked body into a large, circular concrete structure, wherein birds of prey (who are aware of the ritual and gather hungrily when they see activity) pick your bones clean in a surprisingly short time. Your bones are allowed to bleach in the sun, at which point they're summarily dropped down a well.

And THAT'S what life is all about, Charlie Brown...

Leab said...

1. I know about Zoroastrianism. It's Persian, and it's also known as Mazdaism.
2. Remember what I said about generalizing? I know you aren't but the whole "brown shirt" comment is an example. Not every teacher is like that. Not every teacher is a Democrat.
3. 13000th? What an unlucky number....

Meridita said...

leab! come out of that hole this instant!!!

that wasn't a dig...

i kid because I love... : )

Leab said...

(In the hole with Punxatawney Phil). Nope, we're not coming out until Feb. 2.

Admin Worm said...

I know not every teacher is a brown shirt, leab...that was sorta my point. At age 37 I'm still learning to keep my stereotypes to myself.